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Essential guide to world of add-ons

Cloud-based resources are now the default (or only) option for many organisations and individuals, personally and professionally. Acceptance and adoption increased during lockdown, along with remote working. There is an extensive and expanding array of cloud technologies, products, services, software applications and providers to choose from.

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Some of these do not need to, or cannot, easily communicate with each other. They stand alone. However, more and more cloud-based resources are created to be or to operate with add-ons; they are destined to be part of interconnected ecosystems of complementary components that can talk to each other, to share data and extend functionality.

This world of add-ons offers limitless combinations that can exceed the sum of their parts. Accounting and bookkeeping functionality, debt tracking, invoicing, payments, practice management, private banking data and public data such as maps, are just a few of the myriad resources which can become more useful and powerful as they become more interconnected.

It is getting easier to glue them together using APIs (application programming interfaces) and connectors. This enables data to be collected, analysed, queried and exchanged between separate cloud (and desktop) software; connecting people and processes to enhance collaboration and enable them to work more efficiently, effectively and flexibly.

This offers potential for even the smallest firm to embrace and exploit digital transformation. Building a unique infrastructure, by connecting components to, for example, refresh and reshape the firm, optimise processes and workflows, enhance services, develop new revenue streams, focus on niche sectors, solve problems and deliver benefits.

The Essential guide to the world of add-ons offers glimpses of enormous possibilities. There are insights and practical tips from accountants and pointers on things to consider as you explore and plan. Then you can decide which applications and functionality matter most, and which add-ons will best extend them, to create an ecosystem (or IT infrastructure) to meet those needs.

Although every firm is different, they will share common considerations. Such as: software in use by your firm and clients, skill levels, sector-specifics, data ownership, how to build and manage your ecosystem, cost of ownership, strategies of key suppliers and how they facilitate and support connectivity and expansion in ecosystems they are part of.

This guidance will help to shape your thinking on what is possible with add-ons; formulate and clarify firm (and client) expectations; recognise limitations and set boundaries; identify potential benefits and hurdles. By making informed decisions, you can use the world of add-ons to achieve your aims – or even exceed them.