The 31 fantastic flavors of cloud-accounting applications

The 31 fantastic flavors of cloud-accounting applications

During 2015, I have advised nine different companies on their application/back-office strategy. These companies included small not-for-profits to large multibillion-dollar organizations. The most common reasons they are looking for new solutions include:

Reason No. 1: A desire to simplify IT operations. Many of these companies are spending a large amount of time and money on supporting their back office applications. They have a strong desire to simplify their infrastructure to focus on more strategic initiatives.

Reason No. 2: Their current on-premise solution is at end of life/ support unless they upgrade. On-premise ERP solutions are only supported for so long. Companies that are being forced to do an expensive upgrade are asking “is there a better way?”

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Reason No. 3: Their current solutions no longer meet their needs. The irony is that most of my customers engage my team because of reason #1 or reason #2, but when we talk to them, we often find that they don’t even like what they have. They tolerate it and work around it to meet broader organizational goals. We work with them to show them the art of the “possible” with more modern solutions.

Once they have identified that they need to make a change, we often talk about three different classes of cloud solutions. Different vendors have different strategies on how they go to market with their products. This provides the market with a massive amount of choice to find a solution that meets their needs. The three broad categories include:

Solution set No. 1: The cobble. The vendors in this solution set tend to focus on one domain. They build out their solutions to meet a specific need – such as finance and accounting, spend management, or budgeting and planning. They tend to partner with other “cobble” vendors to build connectors between the applications to provide an integrated solution.

Some of the benefits of the cobble solution include picking the “best” solution to meet your need in each area, the ability to “phase” in solutions over time, and vendor focus on their domain area. Some of the downsides of this approach include having to rely on or build extensive integrations, having to learn and support multiple systems, and having different upgrade timelines and paths.

Solution set No. 2: One vendor, different products. The vendors in this solution set offer many different products for the back office including HR, Finance, Spend Management and FP&A. They offer prebuilt integrations between their products and sell each “separately.”
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