Successful Solution Selection

It can be overwhelming picking out a new, or even your first, business solution system. After all, this software can help you maintain your financials, customers and even your own internal resources. Picking out this solution is no easy task – and certainly not one to take lightly.

So where do you even begin?

It all begins when you realize your current system isn’t working (if you already have one), or when you realize some form of business software might help you better run your business (think better data, more efficiencies, etc) if you don’t already have one in place.

You then need to be a psychic and look to the future to see where your business will go and what software will get you there. Okay, not really, but you do need to think about your business needs looking forward. You will want to think about what growth you hope to see for your company, and what you will need from your software to get you there.

Once you understand what exactly you want from your solution, you can start evaluating different options. Of course, there are many options available, but have no fear – a consultant can help you find the right fit for your business (let us know if you need help).

To help you get started (because we’re nice like that), here are five tips for successful solution selection.

  1. Be sure to involve leaders from each division of your company in the process. These people are often the most impacted by the outcomes of your decision, so you want to make sure they have a say. By involving them, you can likely discover specific needs and desires that may have otherwise gone unnoticed. By including a broad range of leaders from your business, you can help ensure you’re choosing a solution that everyone can benefit from.
  2. Identify all the wants and needs for your new business tool, and then take the time to determine which are the most important to the success of your business. In a perfect world, there would be one solution that would cover absolutely everything on your list. However, reality disagrees. By creating a list, you know where you can compromise on some aspects and still get the best solution for your business.
  3. Ask around to find out what other business colleagues are using in their businesses. This can help you get valuable reviews on which products seem to be doing better than others, and can help you determine which ones will be a better fit in your industry. Learning from others can help you implement a trustworthy solution.
  4. After you’ve shopped around based on your wants and needs, consider contacting companies to set up product demonstrations. Seeing the tool in action gives you a real-time view of how this product would work within your business. When requesting demos, don’t be afraid to let the company know some specifics of what you want to see. After all, this is the success of your business we’re talking about, and you want the best solution possible.
  5. During these demos, make note of how the system performs on components that are important to your business’s success. After experiencing all the demos, you can go over your notes and see which systems performed well on these parameters, and which systems flopped.

Choosing a solution for your business can be a daunting task, especially with all the options available on the market. By following these five tips and reaching out to a consultant, you can comfortably make a decision on the best solution to fit your business.

A version of this blog first appeared on Eide Bailly’s technology consulting blog.

Cloud Based Accounting: Is it Right for Your Business?

You may have heard a buzzword that’s been floating around a lot lately: the cloud. We’re not talking about the big white things in the sky. No, the cloud refers to a big network of servers that work together virtually to store and compute data, run processes and house information that is easily accessible no matter where you are.

The cloud is becoming a buzzword because it’s changing up the tech world. For example, remember how you could buy the Adobe Suite in a box, than you would have to install it onto your computer using the disc provided? Well, if you’ve updated Adobe in recent years, you know you now have to purchase and download it online. This switching away from a physical product and moving to an online based system is all thanks to the cloud.

Adobe isn’t the only program adopting a new way of operating. In fact, your bookkeeping and accounting software is starting to become some of the most popular cloud based systems available. Don’t believe it? Intuit found that in 2016, 64% of small businesses in the US are adapted to the cloud. In fact, the cloud is becoming so popular that by 2020, it is anticipated that 78% of businesses will be fully operating on the cloud. This 64% has nearly doubled the 37% that were cloud adapted in 2015. Our point? Cloud based systems are becoming wildly popular for business use.

With cloud based accounting becoming so popular, have you thought about moving your business away from the OnPrem systems you’re currently using and moving to the cloud? Here are some considerations to keep in mind when making this decision.

Updates | With OnPrem systems, you have to wait until the new, updated version comes out, drive to the store and buy it and then install it on your computer (which is where it would stay). When it comes to cloud based systems, updates are ready to be downloaded as soon as they become available (and in many cases, you don’t need to download anything). While some cloud based updates you have to pay for, many software subscriptions include all updates (and support)! Not to mention the updates are typically pushed out to you without lifting a finger. The cloud makes it easier to stay up to date so you can ensure your business doesn’t fall behind on the latest technology has to offer.

Accessibility | OnPrem solutions can be great, but not if you have to travel for work, or aren’t near your computer at all times. If you need to use these programs out of the office, you will need to bring your computer, use your specific server or VPN, etc. In other words, it’s inconvenient. Cloud solutions, such as Quickbooks Online, are the opposite. Because they are stored in the cloud, they are accessible virtually anywhere. Whether you’re on a mobile device or your home desktop, all it takes is logging into your account via the internet and your information is all available for you. Gone are the days of dragging your computer with you everywhere you go.

Security | In the Share the Cloud Security Spotlight Report, 21% of respondents felt there was a higher risk of security breaches in the cloud than for OnPrem programs in 2016. This was down from 28% in 2015. Although there are still thoughts of the cloud being unsafe, this trend is quickly declining. Breaches, although a scary concern, aren’t the only security issue to keep in mind. With OnPrem solutions, all of the information is housed on your computer. If your computer is stolen or damaged, you lose all of that information. In the cloud, the information is available wherever you access the program. The cloud also uses encryption to keep data safe from attacks. As with all data storing methods, security issues are real. Taking steps and putting security measures in place can help prevent your data, no matter where you store it.

Cost | Cost is always a concern, especially if you’re trying to make and maintain a profit. It’s easy to look at the cloud and say “that’s too expensive.” However, there are hidden costs that come with OnPrem solutions that you may not be considering when doing a comparison of the two. When you purchase your OnPrem solution, it’s easy to look at it as a one and done cost. However, you should keep in mind all the updates you will have to buy (and the hassle of getting them installed manually). You also should keep in mind the infrastructure involved with OnPrem solutions. You will need a computer, a server, security systems and other various IT pieces to keep the program running smoothly. The cloud has this all built in, resulting in no extra costs.

When it comes to OnPrem solutions versus cloud based accounting systems, it’s good to know your options. Having a clear vision of what’s available and how it may impact your business can help you stay on top and ready to make changes to keep your business running smoothly.

 

3 Cyber Security Considerations to Keep in Mind

By Joe Tillman, Eide Bailly Technology Consulting

By the year 2020, there will be three times the amount of connected devices there currently are today. This means there will be that many more devices at risk for a cyber attack.

To prep yourself and your business for the future, here are three security considerations to keep in mind:

  1. Gone are the days of the five year plans. Focus your time and energy on developing a 5 year “big picture” goal, rather than a detailed five year plan. Then, create seven to 14 month plans to help get you to that goal. Why? New security threats, regulations, legal requirements, market changes and technology will come at a rapid rate and will disrupt your plans. It’s better to be agile and adaptable with short-term tactics that tie back to an overarching goal.
  2. Avoid rigid behaviors. Technology is not the same yesterday as it is today and it will change again tomorrow. So put plans in place, but make sure they allow for flexible solutions that can change as the technology changes. Be prepared to address new and changing security roadblocks. Also, learn to adapt in order to maintain operations in the unfortunate event of an attack (unless shutting down your business is part of your business plan).
  3. Prepare to pay the piper. A recent report found that 70% of commonly used devices contain vulnerabilities. So you’re more than likely going to have to pay someone, whether it be an employee, or an organization, to help protect your business. Information security jobs are rapidly on the rise. In fact the U.S. Bureau of Labor predicts a 37% growth in these types of jobs between 2012 and 2022. So it’s best to prep now.

A version of this blog first appeared on Eide Bailly’s Technology Consulting blog.

Cyber Security: Are you ready?

By Calvin Weeks & Brett Johnson, Eide Bailly Cyber Forensic Services

Data breaches are a constant threat to any business, regardless of size, industry or length of time in business. All you have to do is pick up the newspaper on an almost daily basis to see new articles about a hack.

Many businesses think it can’t happen to them (and we’re guessing you might be one of them). But the ugly truth is, it can and most businesses are not prepared to handle the costs associated with a data breach. Don’t believe us? Enterprisetech.com estimates the average cost of a data breach will exceed $150 million by 2020.

That’s a tough pill to swallow when you’ve just started, or are just getting going. So what can you do to help manage your cyber security risk? Below are a few recommendations:

Prevention

Let’s start with the true goal of cyber security … to prevent an incident or breach from occurring. Here are a few steps to make that happen:

  • Establish a budget in order to implement security measures. Many of these do not have to break the bank, but are necessary for prevention.
  • Create a culture where there is an awareness of cyber risk, as well as best practices to follow to help prevent it.
  • Have a third party assess your current risks. Sometimes you need to step away and let someone else take a look at your blind spots and ways you can improve. A third party assessment will allow you to prioritize tasks and implement a strategy for prevention.

Detection

You can’t just prevent all cyber security attacks from happening. So it’s important to have a detection plan in place in case there is an attempt on any of your systems. Most incidents begin with events that appear on systems and network logs. If your people learn to identify events from these sources, as well as the necessary steps to take (if need be), you’ll be one step closer to actively preventing a full security breach.

Response

  • Use a third party for incident response assessments, as well as regular compliance.
  • Use internal IT staff for continuity and recovery as the incident occurs.
  • Use a third party to manage the incident response and conduct the investigation.
  • Make sure you’re responding to a cyber security incident in real time.

By applying these steps, you can create a more holistic approach to dealing with cyber security threats. It’s not fun by any means, but it’s necessary to ensure the protection of the business you worked so hard to build.

A version of this article first appeared on Eide Bailly’s website.