Minimising the cost of lost business due to bad weather, flu epidemic or travel problems has become a pressing issue in recent years.

Indeed, it is estimated that the bad weather in December 2010 cost the UK economy approximately £1 billion per day according to the Centre for Economics and Business Research, while the travel chaos caused by the Icelandic volcano eruption earlier that year also had a significant impact on business, and the annual flu epidemic is making itself felt keenly throughout the winter.

The impact of extended staff absence within the finance team can be significant. What organisation can risk damaging cash flow because key credit control processes have been missed; delay raising customer orders or invoices; or fail to complete the month end management accounts on time because 50% of the finance team is stuck at home looking after unwell spouses and/or children?

The growing shift away from on premise systems towards a hosted model and the adoption of Software as a Service (SaaS) fundamentally changes the equation. Organisations can significantly cut the IT overhead by simply getting the infrastructure hosted by a third party in a secure, well managed data centre. However, there is still an overhead associated with the initial system design which may deter some organisations.

An investment in SaaS, in contrast, removes all of these technical issues. Under the SaaS model, vendors are maintaining applications ‘in the cloud’, so there is no need for organisations to ever install systems internally. These applications can be securely accessed by users from any location with Internet access; there is no need to make any investment in complex remote access technology.