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One Secret You Shouldn’t Keep From Your Managing Partner

While the concept of transparency may seem like a good thing, there are definitely some times when you want to keep secrets from your managing partner. You know what they are: texting personal messages from your cube on your cell phone, playing Words with Friends when you should be networking for referrals and, well, you get the point.

Here’s one you may not have thought of: If your organization does not want to be progressive, innovative, responsive and green, then you should keep the “cloud” carefully hidden in the darkest corner of the server closet. What firms fear most is the security, availability and reliability associated with the cloud. What they should be afraid of, instead, is being left in the dust by smart competitors who embrace the risks rather than fight them.
These are the firms who will survive. So, if your MP, shareholders and directors aren’t willing to be progressive, how can you change their minds? Clearly, you need more information and a few valid case examples.
Start with your software providers – Most of the major accounting providers offer cloud/SaaS and, while it’s often not 100% cloud-based, it is some kind of online, hosted-solution. Get their guidance on how you can position the cloud to ensure your voice is heard loud and clear.   Frequently, the conversation will start with the idea of introducing “cloud pieces” in logical functional areas that beg online, non-disruptive version updates – web portals and document management, workflow,  and my company’s specialty, sales and use tax automation.
Ask your clients for input – It’s reasonable to assume that many of your clients are already operating in the cloud or, at the very least, somewhat familiar with it. Getting your clients’ feedback on how the cloud is working for them, and then assimilating this information into something your firm can understand, should help. After all, if your clients are telling you about something they are doing to improve workflow and processes, why wouldn’t your own firm want to emulate these best practices?
Find a way to save money – Nothing speaks to upper management like the ring of spare change in their pockets. While you’re assessing best practices, remember to find the ways your firm can save money through cloud solution deployment. 
If all of this seems as if it’s too much work, it is. Enabling change within your firm takes energy and commitment – and cannot be accomplished overnight. Hint: look at WithumSmith+Brown’s  trailblazing Partner, Jim Bourke, who has led his firm’s charge to successfully adopt cloud/SaaS solutions to enable firm growth and better serve clients.
So…still want to keep the cloud a secret? Probably not. 
Brian Austin is the Director, Accountant & Industry Relations at Avalara.