When looking at a cloud-based accounting system, most finance professionals will go through the nitty gritty functionality with a fine tooth comb.
Does it tick all the required boxes when it comes to invoicing and the purchase ledger? Can you export to Excel? Will it integrate with your payroll system? All valid questions... of course you need to be sure it will fulfil the basics.
But when it comes to hosting and security, far too often finance users will shy away from asking the detailed questions. After all, the beauty of a cloud system is all that techy stuff is handled by the supplier, so why should you worry about it?
The problem comes when you're comparing 2 or more finance systems on functionality alone. Chances are they both handle the accounting stuff with ease, but how well your important financial data is backed up, looked after, and kept secure could differ hugely.
We can't speak for any other suppliers out there, but what we can do is give you a peek behind the curtain into how we monitor and maintain our own cloud system. Use this as a benchmark when speaking with other suppliers. Do they monitor theirs in a similar way and how will they keep you up and running when a system fails in the middle of the night?
Before we talk about monitoring and maintenance, you need to understand where your system, and more importantly your financial data, is going to be held.
With cloud, it's easy to think it's all up in the air somewhere, but what goes up must come down, and your data will be located on a physical server much like if it was on-premise. The difference is that these servers aren't in your office, but located in a central data centre elsewhere that you then access over a secure internet connection.
bluQube's cloud is held in the UK's most secure data centre, appropriately named The Bunker and managed by The Cyberfort Group. We choose The Bunker for its unrivalled levels of physical and network security, offering bomb-proof and flood-proof UK premises and 3-tiers of data back-ups alongside rigorous security testing. To match a comparable level of security for your in-house servers would simply be unaffordable for most businesses.
By choosing to partner with The Bunker to deliver bluQube's cloud service, we benefit from the thorough monitoring and security checks carried out by the Cyberfort Group themselves, that enable them to maintain their title as the UK's most secure data centre.
But this doesn't mean we simply leave them to it. We have a dedicated in-house IT Services team that monitor our cloud systems 24/7/365. They do this using a market-leading tool called PRTG Network Monitor, enabling us to monitor all the systems, devices and applications that make up the bluQube cloud infrastructure, from a single place.
When it comes to our own cloud system, we have 1100 sensors monitoring every imaginable element of the infrastructure. Items such as RAM, CPU and available disc-space, as well as how much memory and processing power is being used across the various servers. As well as monitoring these in real-time, we'll closely monitor how they change over time with requirements being directly impacted by our customers and their business needs.
Unlike an on-premise finance system, if our customers experience growth, they never need to worry about maxing out available server or table space. We monitor usage closely and spread loads across servers to maximise performance for all customers and extend tables as required.
Many of our customers experience elements of seasonality in their business, with the number of accountancy items they need to process through their finance system fluctuating throughout the year. By monitoring and subsequently spreading these processing loads we are able to ensure all our customers experience optimum system performance regardless of this seasonality.
In addition to monitoring the cloud network, the PRTG system can also restart services automatically should any connections fail. This means systems can be back up and running instantly before a customer would even notice, avoiding the time delays required if we were to rely on human intervention.
Of course, in the unlikely scenario a failure occurs that does require human intervention, we have a dedicated team available day or night, 365 days of the year. Working in front of PRTG's visual map screens, staff can easily see live data for all systems, firewalls and security protocols within the bluQube cloud network at once. Easy to follow traffic light colour-coding alerts them to issues at a glance, in addition to 24/7 email alerts, and out of hours text alerts. This enables our team to always react quickly to alerts in an amber stage, long before they turn red and cause any disruption to our customers.
When you sit down with a pen and paper and start jotting down requirements for a new finance system, you'd be well placed to keep the list of functionalities to a minimum. Focus on those that are really important to your business and add true value, but avoid the basic functionality that almost every supplier will be able to earn a tick in the box for.
Instead, make sure you dive deeper in to how your system will be delivered, monitored and kept secure. Don't be afraid to ask technical questions and demand plain and simple English if suppliers attempt to bamboozle you with endless acronyms and vague jargon.
bluQube's cloud solution began life way back in 2008 and now over 80% of customers choose to have their system delivered this way. If you want to find out more about why our cloud accounting system has been leading the way for over a decade, get in touch to arrange a demo.