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3 things you need to do before moving to the cloud

Businesses are rapidly adopting cloud solutions. But what are the security decisions involved?

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Two employees standing in server room using a laptop, with the office in backgroundWhen considering moving to the cloud, it’s important to include technology experts in the decision-making process (Shutterstock/antoniodiaz)

According to the 2018 Benchmarking the Accounting and Finance Functions report by Robert Half and the Financial Executives Research Foundation, 73 per cent of Canadian financial executives are using or plan to use cloud-based solutions.

In fact, using a cloud-service provider can increase the security of data, says Malik Datardina, CPA, CA, and a governance, risk and compliance strategist at Auvenir, a Deloitte venture that offers a software-as-a-service platform for audit. 

That’s because cloud-service providers specialize in creating a secure environment, while smaller businesses can’t usually afford the same level of security, he explains. 

Still, firms using cloud-based solutions must still do their due diligence. But what, exactly, does that entail? 


Business leaders should be leading the negotiation to ensure that the choice to move to the cloud is in line with business goals, says Michael Wong, principal, research, guidance and support at CPA Canada.

Still, it’s important to include technology experts—whether staff or external consultants—in the decision-making process. 

“There might be things they [business leaders] don’t understand, such as the complexity of the underlying architecture and how it’s configured,” says Datardina. That complexity can be a major factor when integrating cloud services with on-premise systems, he notes. 


Choosing an infrastructure-as-a-service provider or a software-as-a-service provider requires research, and each vendor should be able to clearly lay out their security protocols.

Other factors to consider include reliability and cost, says Wong, noting that the CPA Canada publication, Ten Things to Consider Before Moving to the Cloud, which was authored by Datardina, is a helpful source of information on these topics.

It’s also important to consider the provider’s service level agreement (SLA) to you, and determine if they meet your business needs, adds Wong. “The goal is to minimize disruption to your company’s business activities as a result of downtime,” he says.

And while a startup might look attractive in some cases, it’s important to consider the company’s viability, says Datardina. “If they go bankrupt, the investment you’ve made will be lost,” he explains.


Before signing an agreement with a cloud-services provider, businesses should consult a lawyer, advises Datardina. It’s important to understand the legal language and what the details might mean for your business.

Legal guidance can help businesses interpret terminology around important issues such as privacy and protection of data and who has access and control, says Wong. “Is it you, them, or joint?” he asks. “Data security is a key issue.”

Though a lawyer may not be able to change a contract for you, at least you’ll understand the legal language and be aware of the liabilities you’re taking on. 

Once the move to the cloud is complete, training staff and clients is another key step.

Tammatha Denyes, owner of TD Accounting Services, a cloud-based accounting practice in Stirling, Ont., shows her clients how to send financial documentation on a secure portal called SmartVault. She also asks them to use two-factor identity authentication, a sound security practice for any organization that collects customer data. 

Staff must also be frequently updated on how to use technology. “Your employees are your first line of defence when it comes to security,” says Datardina.


CPA Canada’s Introduction to cybersecurity for CPAs, which is part of the new cybersecurity frameworks certificate program, explores the top challenges and risks associated with cybersecurity. The Success Podcast Series: IT and Innovation explores how new innovations can make your practice more efficient.