In this blog post, we look at some of the key considerations for small and medium sized businesses who may be considering a move to the cloud.
what is the best cloud solution for my business?
Cloud software seems to be a term that has been hanging around for quite some time now and it is certainly not going to go away anytime soon.
For small businesses that don’t have in-house IT resources, it can be quite confusing to fully comprehend all of the terminology and different offerings out there. Do we really understand what public clouds, private clouds and hybrid clouds are all about? Do we need to know or is this just industry jargon telling us what we need?
Cloud requires some careful consideration. Although the trend is undeniably moving towards cloud software solutions, it does not mean it is for everyone. Interestingly, Forrester research found that “only 18% of first wave adopters of cloud software and less than 9% of second wave adopters have used Saas as a full replacement”.
It is not that easy to switch your entire business over to the cloud in one big bang. Businesses must factor in their critical business applications such as accounting software or other important applications and figure out where they would fit in the cloud, then come up with a plan to phase it in over a period of time.
there are some key considerations
Before jumping over to cloud in one big bang, there are certainly some important factors to consider such as internal infrastructure investment, data security, integration with other applications, customisation capabilities, accessibility, financial considerations such as cash flow and return on investment.
Let’s take an example of a typical small business and the types of problems they may be experiencing:
Cloud accounting software
My business has grown and I need to change my accounts software. Should I move to cloud accounting software or just upgrade what I have?
I am not sure what to do. Should I buy a new server and PC’s/Laptops? Should I just buy tablets and put everything in the cloud?
I had 3 PC’s replaced on the network, but now I find that my CRM and Accounts package won’t work with the Microsoft Office version I just bought. Should I change over to Office 365 or should I just upgrade my accounting software and CRM package?
Maintenance and energy costs can be expensive and they do stack up. How can I reduce my energy and IT costs?
What’s the best way for me to get my data when myself or my team are out and about?
If I do move to the cloud for some services, such as Office 365, Online Back-up Services, what impact will this have on the rest of our systems?
Who to speak to?
My hardware provider thinks I should buy a new server. My software provider is saying I need to upgrade my software if I buy new hardware otherwise it won’t work. My hardware provider is also giving me some options for moving to the cloud, but my business software won’t work on the cloud. Can I put some of my business on the cloud and keep some of it in-house?
It seems to me that what used to be clearly defined lines between Hardware Providers, Software Providers and Mobile/Web Providers has now become a bit more foggy. It makes it more difficult for business owners and managers to know where to start, who to speak to and how to get all parties in tune with each other so that ultimately the owner is fully informed so that he can make the best decision for his/her business.
cloud can be foggy
The cloud will continue to be foggy for quite some time but in reality it is not black and white. Nor is it rocket science, it just needs careful consideration and some good advice.
For most businesses who have done their homework, they will come to the conclusion that cloud software makes complete and utter sense. Start-ups and young technology companies have embraced cloud solutions with open arms and why wouldn’t they? Who wants a big noisy server hanging around the office? Who wants a big drain on cash flow from day 1?.
Taking ERP or accounting software as an example, now businesses don’t need to consider huge upfront investments. Software can be deployed quickly and can be paid for on a pay-as-you-go model. Businesses can get up and running quickly using the power of advanced Enterprise Resource Planning solutions at an affordable price. In a recent study of Financial Directors conducted by Sage, 31% agreed that cloud computing would make ERP a more viable option for businesses, 30% agreed that cloud computing would make ERP more affordable, while a further 31% said cloud would make ERP more flexible. 27% believed that cloud woud improve their return on investment.