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How to ensure you get the best from financial software providers

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Reservations local authorities may have about running financial systems in the cloud are outdated.

Resilient connections and multi-layered assurances about data security and integrity, added to the long list of benefits of buying and running software-as-a-service (SaaS), now far outweigh any residual concerns about loss of control.

The numerous advantages of using cloud-based software have been widely proved for HR, payroll and customer relationship management. From a user’s perspective, they include flexible access to content. From the business’ perspective, that means greater productivity, not to mention the cost advantages of letting someone else manage the maintenance, upgrades, data back-up and business continuity provision, and the built-in scalability that comes with any system based in the cloud. SaaS adoption offers fast relief from legacy system headaches too.

Other likely drivers for transformation may be the need for more discrete and/or real-time business intelligence, closer monitoring of cashflow, new compliance requirements concerning transparency, or the need to more readily support shared services across multiple business operations.

Cloud-based services have become a first port of call for organisations keen to roll out new functionality quickly but not all SaaS propositions are equal.

With this variation in mind, we offer this advice on selecting a SaaS-based financial solution provider:

  1. Be clear about what you want to achieve. Even though many SaaS propositions may appear to tick the same boxes, some will score more highly than others because of the particular delivery, billing model, or other products and services offered
  2. Ask what you need in a SaaS partner and vet the software supplier to ensure they can fulfil a number of fundamental as well as peripheral needs. In particular ask how data is protected, and what agreements are in place for getting services running after a technical problem
  3. Be careful of supplier lock-in, especially if you’re asking for any modifications to the software functionality. If there’s a chance you may want to switch platform or provider in future, make sure you’ll be able to get your data out within a reasonable timeframe and without penalty
  4. Think about user adoption. SaaS solutions should be simple and intuitive to adopt. The very appeal of the SaaS route is that it provides a convenient and cost-efficient shortcut to the latest features, which users can pick up and run with immediately.

Dean Dickinson, managing director – public sector and enterprise divison, Advanced Business Solutions

Column sponsored and supplied by Advanced Business Solutions

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