Today, there is so much information available about the reasons why firms move to the cloud, but what’s lacking is the actual step-by-step process these firms took to make the move. My firm, James Management Group (JMG), began this transition in December 2015 – and we are still making the journey. Our firm continues to refine internal processes to make sure we are utilizing every capability the cloud offers.
Here’s how we moved to the cloud to handle tax preparation, offer bookkeeping services and maintain client files.
Tax Preparation Migration
Our firm targeted tax preparation for the first migration to the cloud. Prior to tax year 2015, JMG used Intuit® ProConnect™ ProSeries® for tax preparation, so the major impetus for moving was our belief that an online tax product would be the future for these applications. An added benefit was pricing. ProSeries charged a fixed rate for the software, while ProConnect Tax Online (then Intuit Tax Online) was a pay-per-return software as a service (SaaS) pricing model. As a firm determined to move to a value billing or fixed-fee billing model, we felt the SaaS pricing model gave us a better indicator of the appropriate price for client engagements.
The conversion process was performed behind the scenes by ProConnect staff, much like converting from QuickBooks® Desktop to QuickBooks Online. Our main utilization issue was training on the new tax application platform because it is based on Lacerte® rather than ProSeries. As a result, our firm leaned on ProConnect technical support team during that tax season for a better grasp of application functionality, and currently, ProConnect has a number of in-product resources to aid the tax practitioner, as well as a training page with courses and materials.
JMG selected our accounting platform as the second prong for migration. As of December 2015, we used QuickBooks Enterprise exclusively for clients. We were aware of QuickBooks Online but had not attempted to use the application over functionality fears. It was only after attending QuickBooks Connect in November 2015 that we felt comfortable migrating our clients to the QuickBooks Online cloud platform.
Unlike our mass migration for tax preparation, we took a more gradual approach in converting our bookkeeping clients. The process was very similar to converting to the tax application because Intuit converted every QuickBooks Enterprise file to QuickBooks Online behind the scenes. Since the conversion would not allow for sub-accounts, the most tedious part of the conversion process was resetting the chart of accounts. Our firm also needed to renew the bank rules in QuickBooks Online and recognize the differences in how each application downloaded the financial information. For training, the ProAdvisor® Certification programs provided the most efficient method, which can now be accessed in-product. Our firm also relied on training from many different sources, including YouTube and webinars.
Client File Migration
Finally, we moved client files to the cloud. Since JMG was very aggressive in our efforts to go paperless many years ago, this was a fairly simple procedure. We traded costly servers for a subscription to Microsoft Office 365. In a matter of hours, we moved our data from the servers to Office 365 with a simple click, drag and drop! This transition enabled more efficient internal client file access and transparency.
Rely on Technical Support for Answers
JMG’s move to the cloud was made possible by the care and support of our technology service providers. From the teams with ProConnect and QuickBooks, to Microsoft, having experts on hand to monitor and walk us through the migration process from start to finish helped us avoid a chaotic experience that a massive change can create. By leaning on their continued care and support, JMG is confident we are better prepared than ever to leverage tomorrow’s advances in technology to better serve our clients.
Editor’s note: Learn more about Chris James’ journey to the cloud in this video series.