Saugatuck Technology’s Aug. 2013 Cloud for Finance Value and Performance: Consolidation, Analytics, and Planning industry research paper clearly outlined the cloud-based benefits that help finance leaders solve many of the efficiency and accuracy problems around planning, reporting and forecasting that legacy applications fail to meet.
So what sets certain cloud finance tools apart from others? Saugatuck didn’t leave that up for interpretation either, outlining the seven essentials of cloud finance tools that all corporate finance teams should look for.
1. Integrate easily with multiple processes and data types, within and outside of finance.
When cloud finance management systems integrate with systems outside of finance, organizations are seeing immediate cost reductions and improvements in consolidation, planning, analysis, and performance management. According to Saugatuck, companies using such systems are seeing time to consolidation and create reports cut from weeks to days.
2. Have robust reporting and analytic capabilities.
Offering uniform data sets and formats for all apps is not enough, according to Saugatuck. Today, reliable, adaptable, scalable, and repeatable analytics and reporting throughout all systems and processes are essential to integrating finance into enterprise business planning.
3. Balance significant cost improvement with high functionality.
Based on Saugatuck’s research and experience, cloud solutions account for 10-20 percent of the acquisition and license costs of comparable on-premise solutions. Furthermore, ongoing cloud investments cost up to 75 percent less than comparable on-premise finance software tools.
4. Provide functional benefits over current systems.
Look at more than cost when considering cloud finance software tools. If the cheaper solution does not offer the significant operational improvements required for your business, you’re not saving money. You’re wasting an entire investment. Before committing to a solution and solution provider, make sure that provider is committed to investing in research and development (R&D). That’s the best way to ensure that the solution will meet your current and future needs.
5. Facilitate easy upgrades.
Almost all cloud software providers perform software upgrades in their own cloud platform, on their own servers. The difference lies in how each one rolls out upgrades to customers. Before making a decision, make sure that the provider has processes in place to minimize disruptions to systems and daily operations.
6. Be a proven solution, efficient and stable.
This is all about customer references. Find out what those who are using the solution have to say about the product and the provider. Saugatuck recommends industry and professional associations, and solution/provider user groups, as some of the most trusted and objective sources for this type of information.
7. Be able to address security concerns.
Nothing new here. According to Saugatuck’s research, data security and privacy are the top concerns for finance teams. The best cloud solution providers have designed their tools with security in mind. They’ve already tightly integrated security features throughout all aspects of all connected systems. Require providers to answer all of your security concerns before signing on the dotted line.