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Designing and implementing a high-quality network that supports the needs of a CPA firm is not a simple task. Unfortunately, as technology progresses, what has always been a difficult task is only becoming more complex. On a positive note, the opportunities for CPA firms to take advantage of different and new technologies has grown drastically and those opportunities will only continue to increase. Looking forward, technology companies will continue to create new applications and services that will allow CPA firms to better serve their clients. This continuing growth and development of the relationship between IT providers and the accounting industry creates both opportunities and challenges for IT decision makers.

The analogies available are numerous, but many similarities exist between building a network and putting together a professional sports team. It does not really matter which sport we are talking about – the goal is always to put the best team on the field, and a team is always made up of individual players. Networks are designed to support CPA firms and make them successful, and networks are always made up of a variety of software and hardware pieces from different vendors.

Cost

Dollars are always going to be a factor, whether it’s a salary cap or the ownership’s budget, general managers have to spend their dollars wisely to ensure that they have all the positions on the field covered by capable athletes. You can’t just spend all your money on one, star player and expect great results with gaps at all the other positions. Additionally, it’s probably not possible to spend the max amount of dollars at every position and just buy all the best players.

In the same way, cost is always going to be a factor when it comes to designing and implementing a network. The degree to which cost affects decision-making is often directed by the size of the firm. Larger firms have larger budgets; larger budgets open the door to higher-end technology. Unfortunately, escalating costs often prevent smaller firms from taking advantage of technology that would do them a great good.

Even large firms have a limited amount of dollars they can spend on each technology item. Regardless of size, firms are forced to make decisions based on cost that prevent them from gaining access to technology that would improve performance in their network. For example, a large firm may need a hypervisor but may not have the budget to purchase software from VMware, even though that is the hypervisor vendor they would choose if cost was not a factor. This may lead them to choose the native Hyper-V hypervisor from Microsoft instead because it’s already included in their licensing, and it checks enough of the feature boxes to bring the firm closer to where it wants to be.

Additionally, the cost of each IT decision made will affect every following decision. If a firm decides to spend more money for a faster CPU in their host servers, that additional cost could prevent the firm from purchasing the full-featured backup device they would have preferred and forces them to use an outsourced backup provider with less reliability and a smaller feature set.

The Xcentric Cloud provides enterprise-level technology to CPA firms at a price point that makes sense for any size firm. An economy of scale makes it possible for small firms to gain access to technology and services that would normally be out of their price range. Additionally, large firms enjoy the benefits of the large scale of the Xcentric Cloud. This larger scale gives the firm access to new technology that normally would not provide enough marginal value if implemented only for the single firm.

Figure 1. Example of ‘vendor stack’ related to your IT. The cloud can drastically reduce the number of vendor you deal with.

Risk

In the world of sports, new and untested players are always being developed and made available to teams. In order to stay at the top of the league, well-managed teams are always evaluating new players, acquiring them, and then putting them in the right positions on the field to help the team win. Putting money forward to acquire new and untested players is a necessary risk that teams have to take. Sometimes players work out and become stars, and sometimes they don’t meet expectations.

Unfortunately, when it comes to adding new technology pieces to a network, risk is not something that CPA firms can afford. Downtime because a new server implementation failed or took longer than expected can be devastating. New applications that promise new benefits can either be helpful, or they can be a significant source of pain and frustration for a CPA firm. The decision to move forward with a new piece of software or a new piece of infrastructure from a different vendor is not often a decision that firms can easily take back.

The Xcentric cloud is built on trusted, infrastructure, and services from enterprise-level vendors. Years of experience in building networks have given Xcentric both broad and in-depth insight into the CPA technology industry. Xcentric is continually researching, vetting, and testing new technologies to determine if they will provide added value to Xcentric Cloud users. When new technologies prove to reliably bring value to CPA firms, the aforementioned economy of scale allows Xcentric to provide these technologies to customers. Additionally, internal teams of consultants allow Xcentric to build out new technologies and test them before they are rolled out to CPA firms. This greatly reduces the risk of a failed implementation of new technology or poor vendor selection.

Strategy

Finally, it’s important for managers to have a defined strategy for how they want their team to play based on how they want it perform on the field. Defined strategy will help the manager select the right players and put them in the right positions. You can have really good players that underperform together if those players are misaligned or put into the wrong positions on the field.

It would not be very difficult for a CPA IT decision-maker to do some internet research and find which vendors are sitting near the top of each respective market. If cost were not a factor, and the CPA firm then purchased the most expensive hardware and software from each of these vendors to build their network, they would still not be guaranteed to have a network that meets their needs or provides excellent performance. While enterprise technology is important, if it’s improperly implemented or if technologies are not grouped together to support each other appropriately, the network will fail to live up to its price tag or the expectations of the firm. In serving hundreds of CPA firms in the Cloud, Xcentric has learned how to utilize and integrate different vendors and technologies to build networks that meet the unique needs of CPA firms.

In summary, CPA networks are made up of different technologies from different vendors that often perform similar tasks with varying levels of success. Additionally, these tasks are dependent on each other. An economy of scale allows Xcentric to provide firms access to industry-leading and enterprise-level technologies that are properly configured and integrated together. Everyone wants to be part of a winning team. The Xcentric Cloud provides a complete cloud network designed specifically to help accounting firms win.

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Ian Bennett
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Technical Sales Specialist

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