From XU Magazine, 
Issue 24

How to remove complexity, increase performance and reduce IT costs

The cloud has changed accounting and how firms interact with their clients, now it’s time to take a fresh approach with modernised, cloud-centric IT platforms designed to speed up workflows and reduce costs.
This article originated from the Xero blog. The XU Hub is an independent news and media platform - for Xero users, by Xero users. Any content, imagery and associated links below are directly from Xero and not produced by the XU Hub.
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Here at Freshmethod, we get it, the cloud and cloud technology has been around for years now. There have been massive improvements in efficiencies, and nearly all firms are working on the cloud in one capacity or another. That’s old news.

BUT, the kicker is that most firms haven’t seen the full efficiency and cost savings this change promised. Whether it’s a provider, a server holding legacy data in the office, or an overly complex hosting solution, most firms have at least one item holding them back from realising the benefits that accounting technology promises.

This was the story when we met Steven Watson, Managing Director of National Audits Group, at Xerocon ANZ in 2019. National Audits Group is a firm that has 18 team members with offices in Wagga Wagga and Sydney.

The firm was 90% cloud-based, using a variety of cloud applications including Xero, XPM and other ‘new suite’ accounting apps, but they still had complexity in their firm, with their files and network managed in a terminal server environment.

The firm wanted a simple way to review their setup, and a pathway to speed up workflow. Bringing down costs was considered a bonus, the main objective was to ensure that they were fully optimised and to benchmark their infrastructure with other accounting firms.

When we reviewed their setup, it was clear that Steven and the team were progressive and well on their cloud optimisation journey, but they were stumbling at the final roadblock and switching off their legacy IT complexity for good.

After a review, we determined that their expensive “private cloud” terminal server environment was overkill for their requirements. As most of their applications had transitioned to the cloud over the last five years, less and less was left on their terminal server, but they were still paying the same fees as they did when it ran everything they needed.

The much cheaper and more efficient alternative was a 100% integrated end to end cloud solution, moving the firm away from the “foot in both camps” cloud/server scenario they were currently in. As part of their optimisation project we:

Migrated their client files from the terminal server environment and stored it in the cloud on a premium storage solution. We then setup secondary online backup to guarantee that their files could be recovered in the event of a disaster

Migrated the firms identity management off the terminal server and Windows Active Directory and onto a cloud identity manager instead. This was then integrated with all their cloud logins, meaning the firm had a single username and password to manage everything (this single identity was locked behind MFA, location restrictions with full activity logging and alerts).

We migrated their workflow and project management tool from the terminal server onto the cloud version and configured this to run on each of their team members local pcs.

Finally, the firm had legacy client data on a server based application which they needed to keep access to. This was a requirement, but the data was not large enough to require us to keep the terminal server running. Instead, we migrated this legacy data onto Microsoft Sharepoint, meaning that it could still be accessed by the firm without them needing to pay for additional hosting.

After we implemented these changes for Steven and the team, the cost savings to moving 100% cloud and efficiency gains were easy to see. Steven share’s his experiences:

“After speaking to Freshmethod we understood that what they were proposing was a lot simpler than what we had in place, but it would also do the job better. Now our IT is working better than ever, and it doesn’t hurt to save over $25,000 in hard costs every year that can be put back into other things, including profit!”

From our experience of working with over 900 accounting firms, we were able to put into practice the methods and processes that have worked for other firms, to then ensure that Steven and the team had the optimal setup for their current needs.

With the current climate, firms are actively reviewing forecasts and budgets, meaning 2020 is the perfect opportunity for firms to simplify, optimise and ultimately reduce IT costs.

Why leave it there?

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