There was a two-week period less than a month ago when a hurricane, wildfire, earthquake, and electrical blackout gave business owners and financial professionals something to think about – disaster recovery and cloud computing. How could they keep their business running, when events out of their control were happening around them?
Millions of people were without power during those seemly one-on-top-of-the-other events, which could have put business at a standstill for many small business owners, accountants, and CPA firms. Below are stories from several accounting professionals who leveraged cloud-based solutions to prevent rain from falling on their clients’ parade during these back-to-back events.
“More than 85% of our clients, which are CPA firms, could have been impacted by the power outage,” commented Robert Chandler, President and CEO of Cloud9 Real Time. “It could have brought them to their knees. But with the cloud, there wasn’t even a blip on their radar screen. None of our clients experienced downtime during the power outage in Southern California. The cloud did not collapse.”
Carol Michaels, Director at The Finance Department, said her office was closed for four days after the hurricane that hit the northeast. “On Monday, we used smartphones to communicate with our clients,” she said. “On Tuesday all employees were working from their home or our partner’s home, which is also designated as our disaster recovery site. We got back in on Thursday, only to be evacuated again on Friday morning due to a gas leak. But, we didn’t miss a beat thanks to the cloud!”
Accountant Susan Bland, from William B. May, Jr. CPA PC, said, “Our office did not have power on Monday August 29, and I had two payroll clients who had to have their payrolls processed. I simply took my laptop and went to their offices to process the payroll where I had access to electricity and the Internet. It really worked out well.”
Why Move to the Cloud?
According to Tom Codington, CPA, disaster planning and avoidance were great reasons to move to a cloud-based solution. “I have not had a disaster…fortunately…but can tell you that disaster planning / avoidance is one of the main reasons I chose to move all of our accounting and tax files to a virtual server. It is really great to be able to access all our office files and information from home or anywhere there is an Internet connection.”
“You are not held hostage by the elements,” claimed one accounting professional, “You can pick up and do the work someplace else.” Your clients will thank you for it in the end.
Nancy Smiegowski, Senior Manager at MeadWestvaco, commented that moving to the cloud helped to nearly eliminate paper files, increase efficiency, and reduce worry. “With select servers where only a few people could ‘touch’ the [electronic] files, the paper files have gotten much smaller. Our staff can access content during meetings, real time. If someone has a question, he/she can go to the server and get what they need without ever touching paper.”
When Lynnea Bylund, President of business consulting firm Catalyst House, launched their Quickbooks services division three years ago the focus was to build a California SMB client base. During the power outage, she was only slightly concerned about losing connectivity. She was more thankful that they had moved to the cloud and all their resources were no longer in one location. “We wanted more security and 24/7 support, which we got with our cloud provider. The security is just unprecedented.”
Lynnea also mentioned that when her company had in-house IT, they were learning and doing and spending more with IT than they ever planned on. When Catalyst House moved their processes to the cloud, they were able to better focus on their primary businesses.
Things to Consider
The Resources list below offers a list of books, webinars, and case studies to help you prepare for a disaster. As a trusted business advisor, there are also a few items on the list you may wish to share with your clients to help them prepare for unforeseen circumstances.
How did you fare during these recent events? Share your story with us on how cloud-based solutions and effective disaster recovery planning preventing it from raining on your client’s parade.
Cloud Computing Case Studies & White Papers