The value of applying an application hosting model for your clients
The concept of application hosting is not at all new. In fact, there are literally millions of business users accessing hosted applications and similar services every day, and adoption didn’t reach those numbers overnight. For several years now, Intuit (the makers of QuickBooks financial software, among other things) has even had an “Authorized Commercial Host for QuickBooks” program. If Intuit recognizes the value of a hosted application service model, then there must be something to it, because Intuit rarely does anything unless it’s big.
The value of application hosting services, such as QuickBooks hosting, may differ from business to business, but the underlying benefits are there for all to achieve. For some, the main value is in being able to access business information and data while traveling. Using mobile devices, business users are able to get information on customers, orders, payments, and other valuable data – from anywhere they choose to work. Being able to keep tabs on the business even when they aren’t there is very important to some business owners.
For others, the value of application hosting services is the collaboration that it enables. With public accounting in particular, the client business and the accounting professional do not work at the same place at the same time. Being able to work on the same software and data, and doing that work at the same or different times (it doesn’t matter when or where they work) allows business owners and their accounting and bookkeeping professionals to work seamlessly together in support of the business. This online model allows the business owner to benefit from better financial data in real-time, rather than waiting for the work to be done after the fact, at the end of the month or year.
The underlying benefit that all parties get from a hosted application and online working model is better information technology management and greater predictability in IT service costs and capabilities. Businesses need to be able to focus on their business and not on the IT which supports it, and outsource professionals such as accountants and bookkeepers need to be able to work with clients efficiently without having to invest in expensive tools and services to make it happen. A hosted application approach, when applied to the client business, delivers many benefits to the business owners while at the same time providing tangible benefits in efficiency through more effective time management and improved access to information for the professionals who support those businesses.
When developing a working model for outsourced bookkeeping, accounting, or virtual CFO services, it is essential to recognize that businesses need technology to support their operations, and there may be “line of business” solutions in use as well as accounting or financial software. Too often, outsource bookkeeping and accounting professionals focus only on the accounting or financial systems, and fail to consider the critical aspects of the operational level applications which support the various functions of the business. With a hosted application approach, the business solutions in use can be “enabled” – from operational solutions to accounting and finance supporting applications – so that accounting professionals may gain access to the complete realm of business data, putting them in a far better position to ensure that the information resulting in the accounting system is of high quality and may be trusted.