The Purpose-built Cloud Strategy: Focused on Firms and Clients
For professional services firms, choosing a technology partner is a big choice. Your vendor should be an expert at creating innovative solutions that support both practice management and business operations. At AbacusNext, we rely on three foundational pillars that allow us to focus on firms and prioritize a strategic approach based squarely on industry trends, firms’ business objectives and the needs of their clients.
Pillar 1: Holistic Practice Management Technology
Research shows that 70% of the SMB market across sectors, including legal, accounting and financial services markets, require common capabilities to operate efficiently. These include, for example, calendar and email unification, task management, role and user management, dynamic workflow and document assembly; and are designed to support the processes your business relies on to be successful. These core capabilities function best when combined together into a single, unified platform.
Pillar 2: Automated Payment Processing
AP automation is undergoing rapid adoption. Moving away from paper checks allows firms to get business done while social distancing. Secure automated payments improve cash management while reducing fraud risk and transaction costs.
Pillar 3: The Purpose Built Cloud
Millions of accounting firms and law offices were forced to transition to virtual work during the pandemic, and the purpose-built cloud helped many of them make the transition.
What Is a Purpose-built Cloud?
The purpose-built cloud is true to its name: a cloud infrastructure designed to serve the unique needs of professional services firms. Our purpose-built approach takes into account the types of data, third-party integrations, volumes of data, security and compliance needs. Our practice management, case management and document automation applications include features specific to the activities and workflows that firms need.
Perry Steinberg, chief product officer at AbacusNext, recently spoke with Global Fintech Series about cloud technology and innovation in legal and accounting industries. He described the purpose-built cloud initiative in these words,
“Many firms that had not used cloud applications before are now appreciating the cost savings and ease of use of cloud technology. The AbacusNext purpose-built cloud is a dynamic foundation for the way firms work today. It was designed to accelerate business transformation with cloud-native solutions. It allows firms to innovate, collaborate and offer new services quickly, while minimizing technology and security risk.”
The purpose-built private cloud infrastructure puts customers’ business data and vital applications into a virtual workspace that is accessible anywhere, anytime and from any device, enabling law firms to grow an efficient, secure, client-focused practice.
Most importantly, it is scalable and extensible, giving us the flexibility to address a firm’s changing needs in the future.
Benefits of the Purpose-built Cloud
The marketplace for professional services is already changing at a pace faster than firms can match. In legal services, for example, the 2020 Altman Weil report on Law Firms in Transition noted that prospective clients have difficulty differentiating one firm from the next, and they do not necessarily communicate their needs to firms. So it behooves law and accounting firms to be innovative in adopting new ways to better serve clients.
Clients consider pricing, efficiency, communications and the use of modern technologies when selecting a firm. In the AbacusNext purpose-built cloud, firms can proactively harness the strengths of cloud technology and deliver those benefits that directly address client needs that produce client engagement and loyalty.
Less time spent searching for information or doing manual data entry means more time to focus on existing and new clients. An effective practice management system keeps all client files, related documents, communications and deadlines at your fingertips. Every document is digital and easily searchable, so you can respond to a client request in a single phone call.
The efficiency gains not only save time and reduce firm operating costs, they add significant value to the client experience of responsiveness they receive in working with your firm.
Clients expect to engage with your firm, get answers to their questions, and check their case or account status anytime, online. If they can’t do so immediately on your website, they may turn to your competitors. Make it easy for them to share information electronically with your firm. A secure portal site is an intuitive, easy-to-access space where clients can share or receive sensitive documents with you. Access-controlled and highly secure, this method reduces the risk of loss or breach common with email. A secure portal can also allow clients to sign documents online using e-signatures.
Secure Client Data
Law firms and accountants store sensitive business and financial data that is attractive to hackers. The AbacusNext purpose-built cloud reduces emerging security threats by managing and monitoring the anti-virus, anti-ransomware and anti-malware software that keeps your client information private and protected.
Because the cloud virtualizes your IT at the server level, anti-malware protections are applied universally to every computer, phone or tablet that accesses your business cloud, regardless of where your staff are working.
Depending on the focus of your practice, your firm is likely subject to one or more compliance regulations governing the collection, storage and protection of sensitive or personal data. The purpose-built cloud takes these needs into account. Common regulations include:
- CCPA – California Consumer Privacy Act
- Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
- Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA)
- Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS)
AbacusNext private cloud systems and programs host data in a single-tenant environment, with data segregation, encryption and resource allocation specific to the firm. The result is a great balance: a platform that offers all the benefits of a cloud with all the security of traditional on-site servers.
Mobile app usage has boomed during COVID, and our new habits aren’t likely to change. With AbacusNext, attorneys and staff have mobile app features that keep them productive while remote or on the go. The mobile app provides full access to all contacts, calendar appointments and deadlines and case or matter management features.
Today more than ever, firm leaders should know your customers, understand that leadership demands focus and a clear strategy, and be aware of how platforms and the cloud have the power to simplify and grow your business.
Learn more about Perry Steinberg in his interview with Global Fintech Series.
You’ll find law firm cloud hosting resources in AbacusLaw Practice Area Essentials.
Learn more about AbacusNext cloud solutions for accountants with OfficeTools.