Is Cloud Software right for your business?
Having been involved in on premise Sage accounting software and CRM systems for many years, we are finding more and more of our clients are asking us about alternative models. Now, we have so many more options available to our clients that sometimes it can be quite confusing.
We thought we would write this blog article to help simplify things and to help you ask the right types of questions when it comes to choosing the right options for your business.
We interviewed Peter Bergin, our MD to find out his thoughts and to share some advice.
"If I were a small/medium business starting up today, there is no doubt that I would do things differently. Things have changed so much and so quickly, so I know now that I have lots of choices to do things much smarter and more efficiently, thanks to the cloud. In saying that, I also recognise that there are "horses for courses" and that what fits one business is not always right for another business. We advise our clients based on having a good understanding of what problem they are looking to solve and we come up with the option that suits them best".
Peter has highlighted some important questions that he recommends asking before you decide which direction to take with your business software...
Check to make sure that the software application you are looking at solves your business problems. This might sound obvious, but if the software comes in flavours A, B and C, then make sure that you have all the functionality in the option you go with. For example flavour B may not include integration with some other software application you are using, but maybe flavour A does. Maybe flavour C can be customised but flavour A cannot. Ask lots of questions and make sure you are satisfied that the software ticks all your boxes.
If you are thinking of changing from an existing software application to either the cloud or an on premise version, make sure that you ask about migrating your data. Can your data be migrated from your old system to the new system?
3) Payment Models
Consider your investment - is this a Capital Expenditure project or will you be paying out of your cash flow? Ask about payment plans for the software. Is it paid annually, monthly etc? Even if you choose a more traditional On Premise solution, sometimes there are still payment plans available so this will help with your cashflow.
4) Contract Terms
Check to see if it is more cost effective to sign up for a 3 year plan versus a 1 year plan.
5) Canceling Contract
If you choose to go with an online software solution, is it possible to canel the contract and what notice period needs to be provided? Will your data be available to you?
If going with a cloud option, you should get reassurances on the data security and standards that are in place. Some highly sensitive data may not be permitted to run on a cloud platform, so this will automatically dictate the path that certain organisations will take.
How are upgrades applied - ask this question for both on premise and online. Online solutions are usually much more seamless when it comes to upgrades and you should not have server operating system and specification conflicts. How often can you expect to get upgrades? If I have recently invested in an on premise solution, is there merit in migrating across to the Online/Cloud option now?
8) Up and Running
We are all busy, so it's important to understand the steps that need to happen to get up and running. How much of your team's time will be needed for this project? How much down-time can you expect? t's not always the case that the fastest implementation is necessarily the best.. what is important is to be assured that the job will be carried out efficiently, professionally and as promised.
Have you just purchased a new server? If so, then investing in cloud solutions may not necessarily be the right option for your business.
10) IT Overhead
What internal resources (equipment & personnel) are needed to run the application if you go with On Premise or Cloud? Generally, online solutions come with less I.T. baggage. Still, though we would always recommend checking that the online option ticks your boxes (as per point 1 above) as you don't want to have a simple solution with low I.T. overhead, but it doesn't do what you need it to do!
If you are considering your accounting software options, why not have a chat with us and we can hopefully point you in the right direction. We do a range of Sage software solutions including Sage 200 Standard Online, Sage 200 Extra, Sage 200 Extra Online, Sage 50, Sage CRM, all designed for small and medium sized businesses.
Click below to request a no-obligation chat with one of our team.