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Cloud-based Solutions:

Recently, I merged my Management Consulting Company with an IT software company called “Cashflow Manager”, which specializes in providing simple accounting software to small businesses.

In the past few months, we have learned a great deal about ‘the cloud’ and I am pleased to share some of those experiences with you.

The Cloud can be used for both simple data and email storage or it can be used to access Cloud based software.  This takes the place of traditional local hard drive or server storage but also takes the place of PC/Laptop based software.  There are some advantages and disadvantages of the cloud and here are a few for you to consider for both your own practice as well as that of your clients.

Security – this is one of the major issues surrounding ‘the cloud’, security of data.  Where is the data stored, what type of servers are they using to provide your cloud storage, what types of back-ups and physical security to they have to their building where these servers are located.

Legislation – there are laws about where financial or private data can be stored in most countries or being developed by big business. This can be tax/financial data or this can be personal health records etc.  You need to assess what type of data you are choosing to store in the cloud, or send via cloud services such as email, to ensure you comply with local laws.

Access – what happens if the cloud based provider goes into receivership or liquidation, or suffer a more catastrophic event such as a natural disaster – how do you then gain access to your data? Or, what if your regular payment does not go through on time, when and how does the service provider cut off your access to you own data?

Speed – what type of Internet speed are you going to have in your travels, or working with clients remotely, to access your cloud based data or your cloud based software. Also, will it run across platforms PC/Mac, or be compatible with tablets or smart phones? Many of us and our staff/clients are using multiple platforms in the course of their daily endeavours.

Ownership/copyright – who owns the data stored?  Some famous cloud based providers have in their terms and conditions that they own the copyright to anything you store or build suing their cloud based software or storage.  How will this affect your clients or your consulting practice? Be sure you consciously choose a cloud service that fits your business needs in this regard!

Exporting – can you readily download or export the data from the service provider and ensure you have your own local copy for use or transfer to another cloud provider should you want to change vendors.

Cost of Ownership – the big advantage to cloud is very little upfront cost to establish high-level servers, storage or software infrastructure; however, if you compare the cost of say, five years of access, then what is the true cost of ownership to you versus what it would be if you maintained a physical server or PC storage over the same lifetime?

I’m pleased that in this issue of CMC Today we are focusing on IT and the issues of both consulting in this sector, plus also the use and application of IT in our own Management Consulting Businesses.

I hope you find this issue of value personally, and encourage you to contribute to future issues in the CMC Toolkit; The IMC Share Zone; and/or the Business Exchange sections in particular. If you are in a leadership role at one of our member IMC’s, then please distribute this newsletter to your members; and also send us information about your Association’s activities or encourage CMC thought-leaders in your territory to write articles for future editions!

Tim Millar, CMC; Chairman ICMCI

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