Using the Cloud To Weatherproof your Financials
Good Clouds and Bad Clouds
Recent weather events including flooding along the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, tornados from Northern California to Oklahoma, thunderstorms from Illinois to New York, and heat alerts in the Southeast have demonstrated the impact of ‘bad clouds’ on business and data availability.
I’ve often heard the phrase “you have to fight fire with fire.” Today many businesses are fighting clouds with The Cloud. In the case of one Oklahoma manufacturing firm, the solution to business problems involved using the Cloud to centralize data in a secure location that is impervious to the impacts of local disasters. By using the Cloud, DDB Unlimited (www.ddbUnlimited.com) was able to automate financial processes, streamline operations, eliminate accounting costs, and process orders faster.
Building a Cloud Solution
AIM Solutions in Dallas, TX helped DDB Unlimited, a rugged enclosure manufacturer, take advantage of Cloud technology. The solution was designed to automate business processes while simplifying infrastructure requirements.Prior to moving to the Cloud, DDB Unlimited utilized QuickBooks for accounting and Profit 21 for CRM. Having disparate systems for different purposes created extra work including dual order entry, manual import and export processes, manual accounting, and offline reporting. In addition, the solution was susceptible to local power outages and other issues caused by ‘bad’ clouds. The accounting solution was scheduled to be replaced by a Sage MAS 90 solution, but during implementation, DDB Unlimited noticed that processes became slower and more confusing when using MAS 90.
After some investigation, DDB Unlimited determined that the Cloud could unify several operations in a single system. The Cloud eliminated manual accounting practices, providing an out-of-pocket savings of $80,000/year. In addition, the Cloud ERP solution did not require client software so installation was fast and maintenance does not require touching each computer or mobile device.
The Cloud solution came with import and export tools so existing data – including the chart of accounts, current account balances, customer, active orders, and much more could be easily imported. The solution was up and running in about one month.
By replacing papers and forms with electronic orders, businesses such as DDB Unlimited have become much more efficient. However, when installed locally, a computer driven solution is just as susceptible to natural disasters as papers stacked in a filing cabinet. In addition, a faulty hard drive can have the same impact as a tornado when not properly backed-up.
The Cloud enables businesses to store their critical data offsite in a fault-tolerant datacenter with multiple sources of power and bandwidth. Data is replicated in different fault zones so a single disaster does not hinder business operations. DDB Unlimited’s manufacturing plant can still be impacted by local weather conditions, but it’s financials and business operating data are secure in a weatherproof electronic vault.
Documents as well as transactions
In addition to company financials, the Cloud can store critical business documents. Intellectual property, business processes, sales list, and company records can be maintained in a safe location. These documents can be linked to transactions to provide an audit trail and simplify the auditing process.
Don’t wash away the technical experts
The Cloud does not eliminate the need for technical experts. Access to the Internet and application configuration are still required.
The cloud allows technical experts to spend less time managing servers and more time helping solve business problems and analyzing business data. This allows IT employees to shift from being an unwanted expense to become an integral part of company profitability.
Are financials useful if your plant is impacted by a natural disaster?
If a natural disaster destroys your plant, does it really matter if your financials survive? The answer of course is yes. Insurance frequently covers your plant and allows you to rebuild in the event of a disaster. Putting a value on your financials, sales lists, customer orders, and critical business data is difficult, so it is frequently not insured. Often this uninsured data is what adds value to your business (many companies are purchased for only their customer lists and intellectual property). By using the cloud, you can effectively “insure” this part of your business. In the event of a natural disaster, you can still access your information using a computer from any Internet connection.
Contact us if you want a copy of the 2-page DDB Unlimited case study.