June 28, 2017

Top Questions to Ask Before Moving Your Business to the Cloud

The cloud certainly has people talking, and while many companies have moved or are in the process of moving to the cloud for applications, backups, and infrastructure, many are still unsure of what the cloud is exactly or how it could help their business.

The Anders Technology Services Team understands moving your technology to the cloud is a big decision. We help companies navigate the decision to move, the migration process, as well as provide on-going services to manage your technology in the cloud. If you are undecided, you are not alone.  Businesses ask us “why” every day.  Here are some of the answers to your biggest cloud questions.

What is the cloud?

Chances are you spend time in the cloud every day.  If you use any form of social media or online data drive such as DropBox, you are using the cloud. Think about the cloud as opposite of your current hardware, software and servers that take up space. It is not a physical thing. At its simplest, a move to the cloud means that instead of storing data and installing software applications on your firm’s own physical hard drive in your office, you store your data and access applications remotely via the internet. You can’t see or touch them, but they are there. The cloud is a network of servers that can be scaled for as much or as little as you need depending on your business.

Why should I move my business to the cloud?

The big appeal of moving to the cloud is that by storing files virtually rather than in a physical place, they can be accessed by anyone on your team, from anywhere – on the other side of the office or across the globe. Employees in different locations can collaborate on the same master document, which makes flexible working possible.

You don’t have to move everything over at once. Under the managed cloud services at Anders, we can migrate all of your technology to the cloud at one time or a little at a time, depending on what works for you.

Which cloud is right for my business?

There are actually three cloud options: public, private and hybrid.  Each have different levels of functionality and security. With the public cloud, all you need is an internet connection and a web browser – your facilities, equipment and software are all provided by the cloud. In a private cloud, you own all or a portion of the dedicated equipment, allowing you to build your cloud-like environment. The hybrid cloud is a combination, offering a customized integration of on-site, private and public cloud alternatives.

Is the cloud secure?

The cloud is a safe alternative; but no one can guarantee 100% safety in the cloud or in more traditional technology environments. Public cloud providers have to maintain security and compliance for their customers, so they are investing heavily in securing their environment.   With that said, security has to be a multiple layer approach, which involves good password policies and employee awareness.

What will it cost?

Using the cloud can be more economical than buying hardware, software and traditional infrastructure because you only pay for what you use. Instead of depreciating a capital investment over a number of years you pay for what you need now, and you can add or remove services as required. This typically saves companies money. Plus, you can save on facility, power, storage and training costs.

Do I need an IT department?

Your organization will still need IT resources, but it will change. IT departments no longer have to worry about optimizing the use of technology, maintaining IT infrastructure and all other day to day work that is part of the job.  They can add more value to an organization by focusing on the business and will have more time to be innovative in terms of how they use IT to help your organization grow.  You will still require technology and support to connect to the cloud, and work must be done to integrate different cloud structures. You may choose to keep this all in-house or outsource all or a portion of your cloud applications.

What type of applications do most companies move to the cloud?

Most companies start with moving their email and office productivity to the cloud.  Email has been integrated with businesses for so many years, that it can be very costly to maintain in house.  Cloud providers can easily integrate other email add-ons such as spam-filtering, archiving, and e-discovery components at a fraction of the cost of implementing yourself.

There are also opportunities to host core business applications such as Human Resource Information Management System (HRIS) software or Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems available to you.  Many small to medium size business find that the hosted systems have tighter security practices and meet compliance standards.

To decide what to move to the cloud, the first step is to take a thorough inventory of your apps and information and their criticality to your business. Decide if the applications have heightened security or compliance requirements, then compare if it is best in the cloud or local. Our team of technology advisors can help through the process.

What are other reasons I should move?

Cloud computing increases efficiencies, helps improve cash flow, and is quickly becoming the new normal.  Here are our Top 5 reasons to move:

  1. Flexibility – you can easily scale applications up or down
  2. Disaster Recovery – cost effective solution to keep your business safe
  3. Automatic Software Updates – you always have the most up-to-date version
  4. Document Control – the more employees collaborate, the greater the need
  5. Competition – your competitors have already moved

How do I get started?

Pick the best cloud partner and get expert advice. To determine whether your business will be a good fit for the cloud, ask a trusted advisor who can perform a cloud readiness assessment to identify what makes the most sense for your technical needs. The assessment can help you benchmark cloud solutions being used in your line of business and set forth a plan to transition to the cloud. Anders Technology Services has resources and staff dedicated to moving businesses to the cloud. Contact Anders to find out how the cloud can benefit your company.

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June 28, 2017

Created Sales Dashboard to Track and Set Sales Goals in Real-Time

June 28, 2017

Implemented Office 365 for Not-for-Profit to Collaborate and Standardize IT

June 27, 2017

IRS Drawing Attention to Building Placed In Service Dates

Purchasing a building or entering into a new lease space for your business may require renovations or some type of improvement before it’s ready to use. Depending on factors such as the size of your project, location and industry, the time of completion may vary. Even if construction is complete and an occupancy permit has been issued, does that mean the new asset is ready to be placed in service for tax purposes?

Bonus Depreciation Phase Out

The PATH Act of 2015 extended bonus depreciation for most assets acquired and placed in service before 2020. For tax purposes, placing your asset in service by 12/31/17 will generate the greatest depreciation deduction of 50% of the qualified property’s depreciable basis. The percentages allowed will decrease from 50% to 40% in 2018 and to 30% in 2019. Bonus depreciation is not available for most assets placed in service in 2020.

Determining Placed in Service Dates

The phase-out of accelerated depreciation may tempt many to take a position that the new asset is placed in service, when in reality, it isn’t. Be careful, as the most recent IRS Action on Decision 2017-02 describes one must be able to support the asset is placed in service when it is in a state of readiness and available to function as the intended use for which it was built or constructed. A certificate of occupancy does not always mean a building is ready and available for the specifically assigned function. In particular, buildings that are placed in service near year end in the next few years may be subject to IRS scrutiny and could possibly be disallowed accelerated deductions.

Contact an Anders Advisor to learn how your business can take advantage of these accelerated saving opportunities.

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June 27, 2017

Saved Wealth Management Firm Over $40,000 Annually with Managed IT Services

Anders Technology offered comprehensive IT support to wealth management firm resulting in an annual savings of over $40,000. By acting as the firm’s IT support staff, a personalized, secure technology environment was established to meet compliance needs.

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June 26, 2017

Built Database for Multiple Hotels to Access Business History Data

Automated a manual process of generating business history reports for an organization that owned several hotels. Hotel controllers and executives can now pull real-time reports with a full comparison of all locations and history.

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June 26, 2017

Designed a Cloud-Based IT Infrastructure without Capital Expenditures for a Global Private Equity Firm

Designed and implemented a migration plan to move a global private equity firm’s IT infrastructure into the cloud. Within six weeks, firm employees were safely collaborating in a cloud infrastructure with no capital expenditures.

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June 23, 2017

Anders Named Top Midsize Workplace by St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Anders CPAs + Advisors has been ranked #1 on the Midsize Employers category for the 2017 Top Workplaces list by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Anders has been on the Top Workplaces list several times, and in 2016, was ranked at the top of the Midsize Employer Category for the first time. The Top Workplaces lists are based on results of an employee feedback survey administered by WorkplaceDynamics, LLC. Several aspects of workplace culture were measured, including Alignment, Execution, and Connection, just to name a few. 1400 companies submitted entries for the 2017 Top Workplaces list.

“The Top Workplaces award is not a popularity contest. And oftentimes, people assume it’s all about fancy perks and benefits.” says Doug Claffey, CEO of WorkplaceDynamics. “But to be a Top Workplace, organizations must meet our strict standards for organizational health. And who better to ask about work life than the people who live the culture every day—the employees. Time and time again, our research has proven that what’s most important to them is a strong belief in where the organization is headed, how it’s going to get there, and the feeling that everyone is in it together. Claffey adds, “Without this sense of connection, an organization doesn’t have a shot at being named a Top Workplace.”

Among the attributes that make Anders a top workplace include the open, collaborative work space reflecting the culture of the firm, a generous PTO and benefits package, flexibility and extensive technical and professional training programs. Anders supports and encourages their employees to get involved in organizations they’re passionate about, and provides development dollars to help them do so.

The complete list of Top Workplaces can be found in the June 26 issue of the Post-Dispatch. Meet the top Midsize workplaces of 2017 and find out what Anders employees say sets Anders apart.

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June 22, 2017

Staying Ahead with Cloud Technology

Moving technology to the cloud can help businesses of all sizes utilize IT more effectively. Whether you want to access reports in real-time, allow your team to work remotely, or if you’re looking for a higher level of security, cloud technology aligns with your business goals. Minimizing capital expense, increasing security and productivity and simplifying IT management are a few of the ways your business can benefit from converting to the cloud.

Minimize: Capital Expense

Cloud technology is an approach which should be viewed as a predictable operational expense as opposed to one capital expense. When creating a business plan and meeting with the Cap Ex committee, this method will prove to be more cost-effective. As your business grows, you will see there is no longer a need for additional IT capital expenditures. This allows companies to keep more money in their pockets or spend in other areas of the business. The cloud provides the flexibility of adding or reducing services as your company grows, so you only pay for the capacity you use. The cloud gives you enterprise IT systems on a budget any business can afford.

Fortify: Security and Compliance

When implementing a Microsoft Cloud solution, a business can rest assured that the data stored within Microsoft environment is protected with Enterprise level security. Additional layers of security ensure organizations are secure and compliant within their own environment.  The Microsoft Cloud offers IT systems that can help with compliance and regulatory requirements.

Optimize: Productivity

When implementing a suite of cloud products, such as Office 365, the applications are meant to work together, which increases employee productivity. The cloud offers collaboration opportunities for employees to store, organize and share data. The applications are designed to help you achieve more. Connect all of your data from different systems through the cloud for one view of your business.

Decision makers now have access to immediate data at their fingertips to make educated business decisions.

Simplify: IT Management

In the cloud, running an IT environment becomes much more manageable and less of a risk. Almost immediately you will notice the solution begins to free up the resources on your team and allow them to focus on the core competencies of their occupation and less on secondary roles. This becomes possible as the risk of infrastructure malfunctions and disruptions are removed and any risks and responsibilities are transferred to Microsoft.

Cloud technology solutions can help an organization stay ahead of the competition by increasing performance and productivity while remaining secure and managing costs. Anders Technology Services can help transition your technology into the cloud seamlessly. Contact Anders for more information on reaping the benefits of cloud technology.

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June 21, 2017

Stress-Free Financial Statement Guide: Balance Sheets

First in a Series to help entrepreneurs, startups, and new business owners understand their financial reports              

For most startups, entrepreneurs and new business owners, there is often a mystique surrounding the company’s accounting and finances. While accounting can be complex, the fundamentals of bookkeeping and financial reports can be much less intimidating than most entrepreneurs and new business owners first imagine.

There are many reasons to understand these concepts.  If nothing else, understanding your financial statements is “sort of a big deal” when developing and running a business. Investors and banks will rely on your financials when deciding whether or not to loan you money or invest in your business. Business decisions should not be made without these documents, and of course tax agencies require them.

Let’s Start with the Balance Sheet

The Balance Sheet is essentially a snap shot of your business at a specific point in time in which it will provide the “Book Value” of your entity at that specific time; i.e. what your business is worth.  The Balance Sheet will not provide much information regarding your entity’s daily operations; however, that does not downplay its importance.  What most entrepreneurs do not realize is that the balance sheet is critical because investors, banks, and other financing sources rely heavily on it when making capital investment decisions. It also provides the owners with a summary of the overall financial health of the company.

An important and easy formula to remember when you are referring to the Balance Sheet is that Assets = Liabilities + Equity or Equity = Assets – Liabilities.  So your next question might be what is an asset or liability, and how do I determine how much equity I have in my business?

Here is some basic terminology of the three main parts of a Balance Sheet and the common accounts listed within these sections:

  1. Assets– are resources owned by an entity that have value and can be turned into cash.  Common assets will include bank accounts, accounts receivable, inventory, and fixed assets.  Assets can be further categorized as current assets or other assets.

-Current assets– are assets that is either cash, a cash equivalent, or a resource that can be converted to cash within one year.  Common current assets will include bank accounts and accounts receivable.

-Accounts Receivable – are amounts owed to your business by customers due to a product sold or a service provided; i.e. you have completed a transaction on your end and now waiting for receipt of payment.  Some common questions to consider when getting started is how much credit should your company extend to customers and how quickly will your company be able to collect debts owed?  You will quickly learn that the availability of cash to pay for products, R&D, and liabilities when they are due is an integral part in the progression of your business.

-Fixed Assets – these are resources owned by an entity with a useful life greater than one year.  Common assets will include land, property, and equipment.  Fixed assets are classed under other assets as their economic use is greater than one year.

2. Liabilities– are obligations of an entity based on past transactions or events.  In other words, money owed by the entity.  Common liabilities will include accounts payable, notes payable, credit card payable, and line of credit.

-Accounts Payable – are debts owed by the company to a supplier or vendor in exchange for a good or service provided. Common questions to consider when getting started related to your accounts payable account is tracking how much the company owes, when are these amounts due, and can I cut back or eliminate some items?

-Credit Cards, Loans, and Payroll Liabilities are other examples of liabilities many businesses incur.

3. Equity– is the residual interest in the assets of the entity after deducting the liabilities.  It is the value you, your family, venture capitalist, and other owners have accrued in the company.  Common equity accounts are capital stock, retained earnings, and dividends.  The larger the equity balance of your company, the more valuable the company will most likely be perceived by investors, banks, and other funding sources.

For more information or assistance with understanding your Balance Sheet, other financial reports, or to discuss your overall accounting needs, please contact an Anders Advisor today.  This three blog series will cover the three fundamental accounting reports.  Check out the next blog in the series covering the Profit and Loss Statement.

 

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