The Benefits of Microsoft 365 for Accounting Firms
Organizations across industries continue to wrestle with cloud technology, specifically whether and how to adopt it. There is no shortage of accounting firms that are grappling with these questions right now. Perhaps your firm is right now. Maybe your CIO (or equivalent staffer), like many others, is resistant to moving to cloud computing technology because of the time and effort they’ve invested in on-premise operations. However, the majority of the time, these operations are less efficient than they could be. Often, accounting firms rely on multiple vendors, software applications, and other data operations resources. Further, by patching numerous systems together, firms create avoidable security vulnerabilities that put company and client information at risk.
Moreover, as firms continue to leverage hybrid or fully remote workforces, cloud technologies are more critical than ever before. Cloud video conferencing and document sharing, among other technologies, are ideal for remote collaboration and can help your teams be just as productive as they were when everyone was in the office. If you’re considering keeping some of your workforces working remotely post-pandemic, retiring your physical data center is necessary. You can save money by downsizing pricey leasing contracts, but only if you have the appropriate IT infrastructure to support your daily operations. Even simply downsizing your data center and moving a substantial portion of your operations to cloud-based solutions can save you time and money.
Enter Microsoft 365 — a cloud-based software platform that incorporates communications, ERP, CRM, and other tools that allow you to seamlessly transition your IT operations to the cloud and integrate its tools with other industry-leading platforms. Microsoft 365 provides accounting firms with a full suite of resources to improve communication, collaboration, productivity — and ultimately revenue.
Improved Collaboration and Enhanced Productivity
Microsoft 365 provides your firm with licenses to use industry-standard software like Word and Excel and a whole lot more. Its flexible pricing strategy allows you to order just the right amount of licenses and application access for your business. And strong access controls ensure that company and client data is only accessible to those who need it.
Moreover, using 365’s online document platform OneDrive for Business, employees can co-edit documents in real-time in a secure location. Through version control, employees can review all the edits made to a document. And OneDrive for Business allows firms to share documents with clients and other external stakeholders securely. Need to share a draft cash flow forecast with a client or their team for input before finalizing? OneDrive makes that possible while protecting the confidentiality of your client’s data.
But Microsoft 365 offers more collaborative tools. Your staff can also utilize shared calendars in SharePoint to note company and compliance deadlines, client events, and other important dates. Teams can create SharePoint Notebooks based on their department, role, or function to brainstorm collectively and collaborate on projects. The Planner application uses Kanban boards to help your teams and departments manage projects. Delve aggregates documents from across Microsoft 365’s applications and presents them to users based on predicted needs. Other applications help you automate routine tasks to free up your time to take care of your current and prospect for new clients.
Seamless Communications and Powerful Business Insights
Microsoft 365 also offers Microsoft Teams, a robust proprietary communication platform that includes videoconferencing, file sharing, and workplace chat capabilities. With Teams, you can securely communicate with your employees anywhere in the world, allowing your operations to continue seamlessly. Microsoft Teams also includes a Live Events feature allowing you to broadcast your meeting or other event live online. Rather than purchasing licenses to a new ad hoc videoconferencing platform, Microsoft Teams can be used to host your next live presser, conference, or another event.
Traditionally sold as a standalone on-premise solution, SharePoint is also available with Microsoft 365. SharePoint is an online collaborative platform with many similarities to OneDrive, including storing documents centrally and securely. However, it also allows you to publish documents and apps on the web. You can use SharePoint to build and manage your firm’s website and intranet easily using the documents you’ve uploaded there. Using SharePoint to design, redesign, or enhance your website, establish a credible and appealing digital presence to attract new clients.
Because your employees are CPAs and not data analysts, leverage Microsoft’s Power BI when you purchase 365, Power BI is a robust, cloud-hosted analytics platform that aggregates your company’s data and information. Then, it displays it on intuitive dashboards in a visually appealing way designed for easy analysis. Create treemaps, funnel charts, and other visualizations that help your teams become more operationally aware in real-time. Employees will also appreciate that Microsoft 365 affords users single sign-on across not only its platform but several other common platforms as well, such as Google Apps, Citrix, and Salesforce.
Robust Data Security
One of the most significant advantages of Microsoft 365 for accounting firms is its security measures and protocols. Clients trust you with their financial information and if it’s lost on your watch, the reputational damage and resulting revenue loss can be catastrophic to your firm.
Because Microsoft operates multiple data centers, access to your critical information is no longer contingent on your office Wi-Fi. Licensed users will be able to access their information wherever they are whenever they need to. With 99.99% uptime and backup continuity for less than it costs to maintain an on-premise operation with similar performance, rest assured that your data is safe. Spam and malware protection and other similar security measures are automatically deployed and regularly updated through 365, giving you one less thing to worry about.
Microsoft 365’s Cloud App Security provides your IT staff the granular tools they need to monitor and investigate any suspicious activity. The platform also includes a Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) option that, when enabled, requires an extra measure of identity verification for access to accounts and documents. Microsoft 365 uses multiple high-level encryption technologies, such as TSL/SSL, IPSec, and AES, to help protect sensitive data. And the Mobile Device Management features allow you to manage mobile devices your issue as well.
Microsoft 365’s flexible pricing structure can easily match or be less than your current on-premise data center costs. With substantial expertise in deploying Microsoft 365 for accounting firms, OnPar Technologies helps you leverage the cloud resources you need. We work with your team to help integrate the correct version, license type, and license volume of Microsoft 365 for your accounting firm. Contact us today to get started.