Small businesses are incorporating cloud-based applications into their business model at a faster and faster pace. A survey completed by Edge Strategies and Microsoft learned that over 30 percent of small businesses are using some form of cloud computing to run various aspects of their business.
Cloud based services such as; storage, backup and email are most frequently used. But, more and more businesses are adopting cloud business applications to run their business. Cloud business apps substantially lower the cost of IT, costs less to get started. Plus, there are innovative solutions that many businesses need that can’t be had otherwise, due to the high cost of entry formerly associated with enterprise level software.
Apps that your business needs vary by business, but can be separated by the different business functions. Such as:
Business Functional Area Examples of Business Applications
Tackle one area at a time to find the right applications to use in each area. Sometimes, you’ll find one app that covers several business functions. This is a good thing, because the fewer applications you need to use to accomplish business goals the better. You’ll spend less time and money in the process.
As you are looking for business apps to review consider the following:
- Ask Your Friends — You probably know other business owners who you can talk to about business apps. If you notice your colleagues seem to be super organized, or seem to have enterprise level software ask them about their solutions. Knowing someone who uses a solution can give you great insight into the possibilities of any particular program.
- Check the Numbers — Sometimes it will cost less to start using a particular app but over time the cost will increase. So add up all the costs associated with implementing a new business app such as cost of internal IT personnel, training costs, upgrading or downgrading costs. Consider all factors before you choose.
- Ensure Security — Don’t assume that vendors use good security measures, ask! You want to know who can see your information, whether they perform backups regularly, whether they have a plan if data is lost or corrupted, can you easily download your data in a usable format to switch solutions, and how they secure your data. Don’t assume that they do anything if they’ve not told you that they do.
- Evaluate Solutions — Get a free sample to try out the solution. There is no reason today to go into any type of software acquisition blind. Today, you can try before you buy and you should do that for every solution you plan to implement. Another terrific benefit of using cloud-based apps for your small business. If you don’t try it before you buy it, you’ll waste a lot of time and money on trying to make poor solutions work.
- Know Your Budget — It’s important to understand how much money you can afford to spend on any given solution. This is true whether you are picking a cloud-based application or not. The numbers may come after doing thorough research on what is available in various price points, but actually plug the numbers in to ensure that you can afford the transition.
- Know Your Business — If you don’t understand your business process it will be difficult to conduct any type of study into possible solutions and applications for managing your business. If you have departments talk to your department heads to find out what kind of solutions they need, and if you’re still not sure, find a consultant who can help you figure out what you need.
- Make A List — It helps to start with a list of features that you’d like a solution to encompass. Start with writing down each function in your business from back office, to front office and everything in between to get an idea of what happens in each area of the business. Then, locate solutions that fit those areas of business.
- Read Reviews — Find a trusted resource for software and business app reviews that you can go to in order to discover what is available that might be a good fit. Make sure that the reviews that you read can be trusted as honest opinions of the software. But, even after reading a review, the best person to trust is yourself.
- Research Vendor — Always do your due diligence and study the company behind the product. It’s easy enough to accomplish today, with Google Search to find out about any company. Follow them on social media for a while, set up a Google Alert to catch the buzz, and be very careful about giving your hard earned money to complete unknowns.
- Will it Integrate? — A final and important question to ask is, will the new software integrate with my current business process? If the software makes your business look different and act different, is it still your business? Finding applications that integrate seamlessly into your business model will be the ones that work best for you. It should enhance your business, not replace it.
By considering these ten tips to help you select cloud-based business apps for your small business, you’ll soon be seeing fabulous results from all the effort. It’ll be worth it in the end, if you take the time to find and then implement just the right business apps that you really need for your small business.