Overcoming the Cloud Computing Hurdle: More Accounting and Finance Functions Making the Leap

The Cloud Hurdle

“I’m not 100 percent comfortable with having my company’s information up in the cloud just yet.”

So says a financial executive interviewed for the Benchmarking the Accounting & Finance Function 2015 report from Robert Half and Financial Executives Research Foundation (FERF).

This executive is not alone in his or her sentiment about the cloud. Nearly half (49 percent) of U.S. businesses polled for the Benchmarking report said they have no plans to use cloud computing for their accounting and finance systems.

However, the report also identified two trends that may signal a shift is under way:

Trend #1: More than half (51 percent) of U.S. respondents said they are either using cloud technology or plan to do so in the future.

Trend #2: The majority of companies (53 percent) continue to use an on-premise enterprise resource planning (ERP) system as their primary financial system. That number has declined year-over-year, however, suggesting some firms may be transitioning to the cloud.

The latter trend likely can be attributed to the growing use of cloud technology, according to the Benchmarking report. Scalability and potential cost savings are just two reasons more organizations are getting serious about the cloud.

Security concerns linger

Security has long been a (if not the) major hurdle for many organizations to overcome in order to embrace the cloud. However, while moving to cloud computing will change your organization’s risk profile, it also presents an opportunity to improve data and systems security.

Still, many organizations remain cautious. As the Benchmarking report notes, some “have migrated certain types of business information or functions to the cloud, although there are lingering concerns about moving core financial data to the cloud.”

Service availability, cost, reputational risk and privacy concerns about customer information were other concerns cited by executives.

Making the transition

There is risk in moving to the cloud, just as there is whenever the business transitions to any type of new technology or undergoes another significant change. The transition therefore needs to be a well though-out and well-managed process.

CFOs contemplating the use of cloud solutions for accounting and finance processes should considering talking with audit leaders and the chief information officer to get their views on risks and opportunities involved with making such a move. Their perspectives on information security and compliance issues can be particularly useful in the decision-making process. Business analysts can provide valuable insight, as well, especially if they will be working with the system directly.

Consultants with cloud computing expertise also can help your business to evaluate specific solutions, guide the implementation process, and help to optimize the system once it is in place. Depending on the complexity and breadth of the cloud computing solution, your organization may also need to hire additional full-time staff and provide training for existing personnel.

Download the Benchmarking the Accounting & Finance Function 2015 report for more details on the primary financial systems, providers and planning tools many organizations are using today.

Has your accounting and finance department recently moved to the cloud? Tell us about your experience in the comments. And if your organization still isn’t ready to make the change, why?