This is a popular question I have gotten over the years. I used to try to answer the question with a token answer that at the end of the day didn’t really help the person who asked. Now that I am a wily veteran in the IT space with accounting firms, I pivot the question. Here is my brief answer to the question:
It’s not about size, it’s about position.
Is your firm able to retain and attract top IT talent needed to build and maintain a network with 2017 best practices?
How about doing that on an honest budget that the partners can feel good about?
Does a partner have a vision for IT and the ability to manage/retain/recruit the staff?
Then the last question – what can be gained by keeping the capital equipment (i.e.: servers) in a closet/server room owned by the CPA firm?
If the answers around these questions are clear, then the firm can proceed to/from the cloud with certainty. If they are in a position to grow a healthy IT organization while also wanting to maintain the philosophy/model of capital purchases and maintenance, then you should stay in-house. For all other responses, the cloud is a better alternative. An eighty-person firm in the Bay area may be in a better position to stay in-house than a 300-person firm in a smaller market due to the access of talent and various other resources. Then again, have you seen the prices of an engineer in the Bay area? It’s rare for a firm to have a strong answer/position in all of these areas.