The accounting industry brings a unique set of requirements that go beyond typical information technology business needs. Concerns around security and compliance, especially in this era of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, mean that internal IT staffs, as well as managed service providers hoping to serve clients in the accounting and tax sectors, need to take into account these issues when contemplating hardware, software, and service procurements.
Hardware Considerations for Accounting and Tax Processing
Like any normal business process, the level of technology hardware expenditures needed for accounting and tax processing really depends on the size of the company. What stands out with the technology procurement for financial processing is the level of security necessary considering the delicate nature of the data. Extra effort in designing, building, and testing the security of an accounting processing system is obviously a requirement.
Additionally, the document retention aspects of the Sarbanes-Oxley act require that financial records and statements are securely stored for years after the fact. An off-site optical disk storage system is something that is highly recommended for this purpose.
Before considering any Cloud-based services like PaaS and IaaS for accounting and tax systems, make sure the managed service provider offers Sarbanes-Oxley compliance. Obviously, their level of Cloud security needs to be top notch. Many businesses embracing the Cloud for some of their technology needs still keep their accounting processing within an on-premise data center.
A Wide Range of Software Applications to Support Accounting
There are a wide variety of software applications that support the accounting and tax functions for businesses of all sizes. Intuit, Sage, Peachtree, and Microsoft Dynamics remain some of the top names in accounting software. Be sure to take into account any requirements given for the software to make sure the license is sized right for the number of users performing accounting tasks.
Many vendors exist providing technical support for accounting software and can also serve in a pre-sales role to ensure the selected package meets the needs of the business — both from a processing and a security standpoint.
Managed Service Providers supporting the Accounting Role
Arguably the most important thing for a managed service provider looking to expand into supporting accounting and tax processing is full understanding of the Sarbanes-Oxley act. Many businesses looking to farm out their accounting to an MSP expect to see SOX compliance when deciding on a provider. In addition to the standard technology offerings from a service provider, an emphasis on strong security and penetration testing sets apart the best companies suitable for financial systems support.
Obviously, the accounting industry benefits from state of the art technology for its processing. Even more important are the high levels of security and data retention to meet the compliance issues around the Sarbanes-Oxley act. Security becomes even more important when considering a Cloud-based option for accounting; that’s why many enterprises still keep financial processing in house even when using the Cloud in other areas of the company.