As controllers, many of you face the daily challenges of making the right decisions for your company.  Hire him or hire her?  Use the small vendor or the big one? Support migrating to the cloud or oppose it?

Hire the wrong person and they don’t work out?  Sadly,  you have to terminate them and move on.  Choose the wrong vendor?  It might be a little painful, but search for a new one.  But make the wrong decision for your company about it’s ‘information future’ and the consequences could be far reaching, long lasting and permanently damaging.  What are the risks if you decide to move it all to the cloud….. or you decide not to.

Hand in hand with that decision is whether or not you should just outsource almost your entire I.T. operation.

Let’s take a look back to 2000, the year we survived Y2K.  In those good old days, you could hire one guy to look after your AS400 and even manage your terminals or desktop p.c.’s.  He could pretty much fix anything and here is where you could find a lot of ex-military people working.  You didn’t need a desktop p.c. support person, a network engineer and someone who could go out and run cable, setup and load out all the needed software.  But now you do.  Many small to midsize companies may have one very able tech support person (and why aren’t there any women doing this?).  But we need to examine the upside and downside of that as well.

PRO’s and CON’s of a single support person:

P R O ‘s:

  • Generally less cost than outsourcing to an outside technology company until you have to hire the second I.T. person.
  • Very knowledgeable about your company and its equipment & operations
  • Educated about your software
  • Can potentially be much quicker in responding to problems, especially at the Corporate office
  • They generally are not specialists in a world of technology that is so vast specialization is almost essential.  (would you let your local family physician remove a brain tumor?)

C O N’s

  • Someone must manage their work
  • Rapid changes in technology require continued investment in educating him/her.
  • Less ability to negotiate fair compensation with just one person on board
  • Inability for them to work on more than one problem at a time.
  • Potential for sudden loss of employee and therefore all the information about your systems. (we call this ‘all your eggs in one basket’)

Before you make the migration decision, here are some questions you need to ask yourself:

  • Can I find a Technology company that will help me make the right decisions and provide me with a comfort level needed to cut the cord with my servers and go totally to the Cloud?
  • Am I facing the decision to buy new servers and upgrade my infrastructure versus just taking it all online?
  • Can I be sure the company we choose will be around for the long run and protect our data (this is where your Technology company consultants come in)
  • Will this eliminate all my concerns about back ups and restores? Fire walls, anti-virus software, and maintenance of my equipment?
  • Is there a solutions that can involve some cloud and some data local?
  • How comfortable can I be knowing my financials are in the cloud?

In case you are thinking of doing this yourself, let me remind you what my attorney father always used to say, ‘the man who represents himself in court has a fool for a lawyer’.

Migrating to the cloud has many benefits including automatic upgrades, lower investments in hardware and some software.  There is the potential for shielding you from malware and cyberattacks such as we have seen at Target.  Remember, what took Target down was that a vendor sending them electronic information was infected and passed on that infection through their electronic invoices.  All I can say is you do not want to do business with a big company like Target unless your system is as tight as it can be.  You may have danced the day you inked that deal, but you may be dancing on your own grave.

So, use a good, trustworthy Technology company to walk by your side as you ascend to the cloud.  You will not regret the investment.




It started yesterday morning, my busiest day of the week (Monday).  When I walked into my office my pc screen had a message that my computer had been restarted and was sitting in ‘Safe Mode’.  The screen was frozen.  I had no choice but to perform a Shut Down.  My computer came back up (very slowly) but to my dismay would not connect to the internet.  After 3 1/2 hours on the phone with my Premium Microsoft Account support people there was only one thing left to do.  Wipe it clean and start over.

After a recent scare a few weeks ago related to the same p.c. I got out my External Hard Drive and backed up my p.c.  Once a week I refreshed my backup so that the drive was very up-to-date.  Of course Monday was shot when I hung up with Microsoft at 3:40 p.m.

This morning (Tuesday) I sat down to my computer and proceeded to restore my data and, thank heavens, it worked!  But then there was refreshing my Office 365 account and several others.  But that was a small price to pay compared to what it would have been had I lost all my data.  So, my dear Controller friends, whether you work exclusively from the same laptop for work and personal, or you have a different p.c. in your home office let me advise you why you need a reliable backup, whether it’s in the cloud or an external hard drive:

  1. Tons of travel and family photos
  2. All my spreadsheets I keep on my home P.C. related to some complex tax returns I prepare for my husband and I as well as other family members.
  3. A CPE Log I have kept for years of all the CPE classes and credits I have obtained to comply with the requiremens of my CPA license.
  4. My Client Files with their financials (I would have hated to have to ask for them again)
  5. Writings and drafts of articles and papers I have and am submitting to various websites I provide writings for.
  6. Cost basis tracking for my husband’s stocks he buys and sells.  Finally this year brokerages are required to provide cost basis but if we were audited, I would desperately need these files.
  7. Three years of Turbo Tax programs and files
  8. Downloads of various documents related to my consulting practice

As I restored from my external hard drive my stomach was in a knot.  I was terrified that even though the drive had assured me it had completed backing up, one never knows.  The absolute relief I felt as everything restored beautifully was indescribable.

Can you imagine losing all your data at work because even though you are connected to the network, there are no authorizations installed to backup your desktop’s hard drive.  Don’t think this can’t happen because it has and it does.  Your I.T. people are concerned about backing up the servers but not necesarrily any of the desktops or laptops that might be periodically hooked up to the network in a docking station.  Do not assume you are safe.  Check in with your I.T. folks.  And as far as at home, perhaps in a home office setting, please be sure you have a way to backup by making a full backup first and then updating at least weekly.  I use an external hard drive which you can buy for probably under $100 depending on how much data you have to back up.  But it is easy to use.

While I can’t prove it, my fatal issues began after a nighttime Microsoft update.  After that installed, my computer was not able to function correctly.  Since the wipe and restore, it’s working great.  Really, I’m kind of glad I restored because it was a great opportunity for some clean up and speed up on my p.c.  But it could have been a sickening disaster!




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