So you’ve been learning all about operating your business in the cloud, and you’ve decided you’re going to make a move. You’re looking forward to all the benefits of cloud computing for Vancouver accounting firms, like increased productivity, better communications, enhanced efficiency and flexibility, automated services, data protection, lowered expenses, and more. So now you’re searching for the right company to provide you with cloud services, and you’re wondering what features and characteristics to look for to narrow the field of potential partners.
Of course, you want to choose a company with a good reputation in the industry, one that is established and has a good track record, and preferably one that has experience providing cloud services to accounting firms. But what specific technical questions should you be asking? It’s vital that you have a good understanding of a cloud company’s operations to determine if they’ll be a good fit for your particular needs.
As a guide to get you started down the right path, here are six of the most critical questions you should be asking when looking for a company to provide cloud services for Vancouver accounting firms.
6 Questions To Ask A Potential Cloud Computing Provider
- Data Center Locations – A cloud services company could be located, or have it’s data centers located, anywhere in the world. Knowing where they are is essential for a few reasons. You might prefer that they are located in British Columbia or at least in Canada and thus will comply with any pertinent laws and policies. You also need to ensure that their servers are in more than one location for what is known as geo-redundancy. In other words, you want to know that they have a data centre to fall back on in case of a natural disaster or cyber attack, so your services won’t be interrupted. Some companies also use more than one Internet provider to ensure the same service continuity in case one goes down.
- Data and Applications Monitoring – Make sure the company you decide to work with can monitor what’s happening with your data and any applications you may use. They should not only keep tabs on performance and security breaches but also have a system in place that alerts them when maintenance is required. It should check your hardware, software, anti-virus and firewall, and your available disk space. It should also monitor when applications need to be updated or patched.
- Adding and Removing Users – You need to have the ability to add or remove users from the system easily and quickly. With some providers, you have to submit a request and then wait for hours to have it done. There may also be a certain amount of downtime to your system involved, and of course fees. Whatever process a provider uses, make sure it aligns with your requirements.
- Backup Standards and Procedures – Like most accounting firms and other businesses, you probably have your own set of procedures and times for conducting system backups. However, providers can have widely varying procedures of their own, perhaps once a day, or several times a day, at different times. Look for one who is willing to meet your specific needs. Also, check to make sure that they use a method to encrypt your data during the transfer from your servers to theirs to guard against a hacker stealing your information and then being able to read it.
- Dual-Authentication Security – For an accounting service working with and storing large volumes of confidential client information, data security has to be a top priority. A breach not only endangers customers but damages the credibility and reputation of the company. Anti-virus protection, a firewall, and data encryption are a must, but even better security can be had with dual-authentication. One example would be that when an employee tries to log into the system from their smartphone, the system texts a one-time numeric code to their phone that has to be entered before access is granted. It’s slightly more inconvenient but it’s worth it. Not all providers offer this, so remember to ask about it.
- Service Cancellation – If for whatever reason, you decide after a trial period that a cloud services provider isn’t a good fit for your needs, you’ll want to make sure you can cancel the agreement without too many problems. Most don’t require you to sign an annual contract and will work with you on a monthly basis. Also, inquire as to what assistance they might offer with transferring your data to another provider.
Not all cloud service providers are the same, and it pays to do your homework and shop around for the right one. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, the integrity and security of your data are too important.
Compunet InfoTech is a locally-based company offering complete cloud services for Vancouver accounting firms. Contact them today for more information.