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Friday, May 15, 2020

What Does the ‘New Normal’ Mean for Your Technology Stack?


In the past few months, most organizations have been forced to abruptly deploy their work and back office operations to a remote workforce as we all adapt to the shelter-in-place and social distancing requirements that are our new normal. This may have resulted in decisions that were the most expedient as organizations struggled to complete day-to-day operations that were designed for an on-premises workforce. However, as it is becoming apparent that social distancing will be around for a while, even once we can return to our workplaces, it becomes more critical to think about the long-term technology stack that can best meet the needs of a more remote workforce.

As we have all found ourselves suddenly in a remote working environment, even basic tasks like printing checks and getting them signed or obtaining receipts to support an expense report can be cumbersome and difficult. Immediate solutions like enabling ACH at your bank or implementing a bill pay solution may result in duplicative processes to enter the information into multiple systems (bank, expense report, financial, etc.) or could result in a change in your internal controls.

For example, you may have previously required two signatures on checks versus only one authorization on ACH transactions due to who had access in the past. It is important to consider the entire technology ecosystem and the impact it has on your processes and internal controls, especially during this time when you may also have a reduced headcount. Moving things to the cloud is a good first step, but systems also need to be integrated so data flows seamlessly from one system to the other without need for manual intervention by your users.

There are many benefits to moving your technology stack to the cloud, including:

  • Easier access for your remote workforce. Most cloud solutions offer SSO (single sign on) so that users can log into these applications using their network username and password. This allows your IT department to manage user access in a central location and enforce strong password creation and change requirements.
  • Lower cost of ownership. When shifting to a fully cloud-based technology stack, you no longer need to maintain on-premises servers and backups or do costly upgrades to software packages. Most cloud solutions are sold as SaaS (software as a service) solutions, meaning that you pay a monthly or annual subscription fee and always have the latest version as updates are pushed to all users automatically.
  • Remote access to documentation. With document storage solutions and the ability to attach documents to many transactions or workflows within cloud-based software, it is easier than ever to access this information and supporting documentation for transactions when staff are geographically dispersed. This can make pulling information for your audit or other compliance reporting much faster than in the past.
  • Single source of truth. Integration between various systems used for obtaining data needed for financial reporting is key to reducing manual input into systems and ensures that the same data is captured in multiple places. By integrating your cloud systems, you eliminate data silos and ensure that all users have access to the same information as everyone else. This can also improve the speed at which you can report on and react to changes the organization is facing. As we are in such volatile and uncertain times, having access to real-time reporting is even more critical.
  • Improved security. The biggest concern that most organizations have about moving to the cloud is security. The good news is that cloud-based organizations are very focused on security, since they know their customers rely on them to keep their data safe. When evaluating any cloud-based solution, you should always inquire about and obtain their SOC 2 report and backup policies and ensure that the policies they have in place are sufficient for your organization. Any organization with whom you are doing business in the cloud should be able to provide this report to you as you are considering their solution, and then annually once you have it in place.

What we are in the middle of right now is a paradigm shift. Organizations have been moving to the cloud for over a decade, but many have resisted for various reasons. This pandemic has made it more essential than ever to move critical business functions to the cloud to ensure there is no interruption to your key processes and workflows.

Need help determining the right strategy for your organization? Reach out to our experts, who can help with next steps. To find more information on how to keep your business running through disruption, visit our COVID-19 Resource Center.

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