Cloudy With A (Very Good) Chance Of Savings!
Posted on Jan 30, 2014
A decade ago the voluntary sector was in good shape, thanks to a cash rich financial climate. Today the accepted financial forecasts for the voluntary sector are ones of doom and gloom. Yet many charities working with Aqilla expect to increase the volume of services they offer this year.
So how does a sector that has the task of delivering yet more with even less, cope in the current challenging economic climate?
One thing that helps is to make the organisation become more efficient and fluid; staff benefiting from greater working flexibility and critically an associated bottom-line gain provided by cost savings which can be drastically reduced immediately and in the long term. One only needs to look at what the private sector has been doing, not from staring at the stars but instead by looking seriously at Cloud based solutions.
One tried and tested way to make savings - whilst benefiting from modern up to date software - is to move some, all or as many as possible of an organisation’s IT functions into the Cloud. The recent growth in Cloud computing has been led, in the main by the private sector, although we at Aqilla are seeing more and more Charities and Not-for-Profit organisations embrace this technology. There are of course obvious capital expenditure savings but these are often combined with increased work efficiency as a result of greater workplace flexibility.
Charities have been led for many years by their software provider or their ‘trusted’ accountant as to what finance software they can or ‘must’ use. At Aqilla we have helped many charities, not-for-profit organisations and NGOs move to an easy to use, affordable, highly functional accounting solution, that’s Cloud based and open to all staff!
Can you really reduce your costs immediately?
In a word - yes. With reductions in funding and increased pressure on budgets, it is very likely that you could benefit from moving some of your software to the cloud. You would no longer need half the IT infrastructure you have and along with it those expensive annual maintenance contracts can go and these savings filter all the way through to your balance sheet!
And long terms savings?
As we have now established you won’t have anywhere as much equipment or software to worry about. If you don’t own it, someone else does and they look after it, so no more software upgrades, which in turn require hardware upgrades. More savings.
Go and have a look now at how much you are paying for your annual maintenance contract for just a single piece of software like your current finance solution, and how many times this ‘fee’ has not covered the true costs of ownership and use!
Access from the office, home – anywhere
It’s highly likely that most or all of your staff has modern up to date laptops, netbooks or tablets at home? But there, in your office are old outdated PC’s that you can’t afford to replace (oh and if you do, nothing works with Windows 8 anyway)... what is the answer?
BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)
Enable your staff bring their own devices to work and use those. Because you are using a cloud platform, the software is secure and will work on anything that can run a web browser, and even better they can work from home or the office or in the field, as long as there’s is internet they can work – at Aqilla we have many users in sub Saharan Africa logging in every day!
What about extending access beyond the finance department?
Once you have your software in the Cloud, more people can actually get to use it. With Aqilla access to finance data is no longer just the domain of the finance department. With a modern document centric approach and an easy to use and understand interface, it is possible to move responsibility for collection of some source data outside of the Finance Office. Staff can enter their own expenses, timesheets, raise purchase orders and invoices, access their own reports, relieving pressure and enabling the finance team to get on with the serious of controlling, reporting and analysing activity. Let’s face it, the less work that is replicated the more efficient an organisation can be, and with efficiency comes cost saving!
Or even to volunteers and temporary staff
Aqilla, like many cloud based solutions have a rolling monthly contract for licenses, no more planning for a year, or three months notice to cancel, and then being tied into an annual contract! With Aqilla you have just what you need for the users you have at any time. If you have a big project and a load of volunteers that need access, fine – take on more licenses straight away. When it’s over cancel them – it really is as easy as that, and really easy to budget for! (Aqilla has a great budgeting tool built in as well by the way)
Ok, but what about security?
At Aqilla we know how seriously the security of important computer data is taken. That’s why we have all our data centres based in the UK. Equally important is the location of the head office of your cloud software provider as that location denotes the jurisdiction of the law protecting your data. Aqilla being a UK company with UK data centers is covered by the UK Data Protection Act. Anything less than this is not good enough as you may find yourself subject to prying enquiries from unknown international government agencies!
Before you move to a cloud provider DO make sure your data is in the UK and their head office is as well.
This all sounds like a huge headache to me; do I really want to be changing my finance
software right now?
We agree changing your finance software isn’t something you should do without careful consideration, and lets face it, no matter what or when you do it, it’s going to have it’s ups and downs, but staying with what you have isn’t a walk in the park either! Just wait for the next big update which needs a new version of your client-server software and watch the expensive consultancy bills come rolling in – then you’ll wish you had changed.
At Aqilla we have worked with many charities make the move from the likes of Sage, QuickBooks, SunSystems plus many more. We know what we’re doing and can work with you to make it as painless as possible.
So what now?
We are sure that Aqilla can save your money and provide long term savings with increased flexibility. Aqilla is a modern web based, easy to use solution that can be up and running in days rather than weeks, and with discounted pricing for charities (up front, not when asked for) we know that we can make a difference.
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