Cloud, Cloud, Cloud. The term is floating around in every article we read and being stated from every corner in our industry. At first, it was a whisper, but has now grown into fervent yelling. The industry of accounting has grown, and is morphing rapidly into a giant rain cloud. Simply moving to the cloud and making it rain money is not as easy as it sounds.
Several years ago, I started my transformation into the cloud ... with baby steps. Today, my firm is completely virtual and 100% cloud based. The transformation has been enlightening and well worth the effort.
Despite the information not being as abundant as it is today, I read as much as I could and made my decision. I laid out my plan to move my company and my clients to the cloud. At the time, every single client I had was on a desktop version of some kind, and I drove around from client to client. Here is the story of my journey; I hope it helps you find your path!
The first part of the plan was to set out the timeline of transition as a blueprint for the company and client files. Below is the way I outlined my timeline:
Set out your timeline
- Why are you selecting certain clients to move? Will all clients be moved?
- Who will be transitioned to the cloud now or down the road?
- Where will you transition them? Will it be hosted desktop or to the QuickBooks Online platform?
- What apps are you integrating?
- When will the transition start and end?
Change is difficult in life, and transforming your company is a major change. The path chosen to move involved my firm first, and then my clients. Stages of the cloud are the best, then hosting with desktop, and finally, the move to QBO.
- Talking to clients about the change in your firm
- Communicating about the benefits of the cloud
- Set up extra time to work with the clients that will be transitioning
- Prepare and use vendor app tutorials and material for a clear understanding
- Review the processes and procedures for each client with your client and staff
Along with each stage, I started a conversation with all of my clients, telling them about the internal change that was happening at my firm and how the changes benefited the work environment.
Using this communication with my clients, I evaluated the reactions. The feedback gave insight into how clients are open to the idea and would be more receptive to the move. The valuable information was then used to research potential software that would be utilized for each client’s ultimate path.
Transition and onboard understanding
- Stages of “cloud” work well. Example: Move from client computer to hosted to QuickBooks Online.
- Clients don’t want to disrupt their business.
- Implement new features as the clients feel comfortable.
- Stick to the timeline; don’t be distracted.
Once you have selected the clients to move, communication is vital in making them feel comfortable. The support level for the firm increased dramatically, as we implemented a policy to answer every call and return any client call within 15 minutes, using the theory that, if they were calling, they needed support right away. There will be a tendency for the client to quit it all, but hold to your timeline and reassure them that the transition takes time. The calls have dwindled tenfold, and now, the clients know that we are there whenever they need support.
Ultimately, this is a unique journey for you and your clients. The word “trusted” advisor has been used often. However, in the scenario of moving to the cloud, our clients “trust” us to be their beacon to the new accounting world. In the end, the positives outweigh the negatives. Faster support, work / life balance and more time to work with your clients ON their business, not IN the mass of data entry.
Have an incredible journey and make it worthwhile! The industry is at a very pivotal point in time, so make the best of the time.