The Cloud is a cliché, and we’re all moving our business processes there. But many small businesses use point solutions, solving one problem at a time, and would benefit from a more holistic approach.
There is a wall of sound coming from cloud vendors, which makes it difficult to figure out which processes to move to the cloud, and what criteria to use when picking cloud vendors.
Here are 5 primary business processes to consider moving to the cloud:
- Email. Managing your own email server is complex. Hosted email solutions are cheap enough that it makes little sense to do it yourself. This should be your top priority, if you haven’t already done so.
- Backup. Any data you store on your computers should be backed up. Cloud backup protects against a much broader set of risks than having a USB hard drive hooked to your PC or server.
- Accounting. Small businesses need to be nimble and cost efficient. Often using a bookkeeping service is cheaper than hiring a bookkeeper. Putting your accounting records in the cloud can make it much easier for such services to access and maintain your information.
- Sales/Customer Relationship Management automation. Salespeople are, by their very nature, highly mobile. If you want them to keep their records of prospects and customer interactions up to date, you need to make it easy for them to do it from anywhere.
- Industry vertical apps. Every business has them, whether it’s medical professionals managing appointments and medical records, financial services professionals managing client portfolios, or service companies managing technicians out at clients’ homes and businesses. Specialized service providers manage such applications in the cloud, so you always have access to the latest capabilities.
And 5 key factors to consider before trusting your business to a Cloud vendor:
- Cost. Everyone looks at the “bottom line” on a proposal first, so cost is a key consideration. Always look at Total Cost of Ownership, which includes upfront costs, recurring costs, termination/ cancellation costs, lost business costs from downtime, and add-on costs. Try to take up references, to make sure you understand all the costs involved in using a cloud solution.
- Reliability. If a Cloud application is down, so are you. That costs you money and customers. There are two aspects to this, the reliability of the application itself, and the financial stability of the vendor. If the vendor doesn’t make it, you could be high and dry without access to your data.
- Security. Cybersecurity is key, if your vendor allows a data breach, you are on the hook, outsourcing is no defense. Look for features such as multi-factor authentication, and the ability to restrict access to data for different users. Also check the vendor’s reputation, history of data breaches, and its response to them. Finally, make sure the vendor doesn’t claim ownership over your data, and that it remains your intellectual property.
- Support. Problems always occur, no matter how good the applications are. Whether they are due to a lack of knowledge on the part of your team members, or a badly implemented update, you need to know how effective, and responsive, the support team will be when problems occur. The best measures are how well the company meets or exceeds its service level agreements.
- Transferability. All good things come to an end eventually. When you’ve trusted your hard-earned data to a cloud vendor, you need to be sure you can get it back when you move on.
These issues are complex, and the above lists are just starting points. Cloud implementations can make or break your company, so make sure you have someone in your corner looking out for your interests. As always, BinaryNetworks is ready, willing and able to serve you in this capacity.