Why Your Small Business Should Move to the Cloud
It’s been my mantra for a few years now: get online, or get left behind. I think now, more than ever, this is not only a relevant discussion, but one that in which every business must engage.
Software as a service (SaaS) is not something that any small business needs to wait and see if it’s “going to stick around”. It’s sticking, if not already stuck. SaaS options have been around in one way or another for years (I’ve personally been using QuickBooks Online for a decade to run my practice) and they’re becoming the norm, rather than the exception. A great example of this is Adobe’s recent decision to discontinue the desktop version of Photoshop in favor of a subscription based, internet-only version of the software.
Distributed teams are another “trend” that frankly, isn’t really a trend. Many businesses of all sizes are running with remote employees rather than a local staff. Online tools like Skype and Google Hangouts make meetings easier and tools such as mural.ly are great for working on group projects.
Here are a few reasons I give my clients for why they should move not just their accounting system online, but most (if not all) of their back office as well:
Work with the best
Moving to the cloud affords you the opportunity to find the best, whether it’s team staffing or technology solutions. By moving your business online, you’re opening up your possibilities and will no longer be limited to local staff or even traditional locally installed software. I spent weeks looking for the perfect admin to fit our company; and I didn’t find her locally – we’re in Michigan and she’s in Ohio.
That’s right. I tell my clients this all the time. Your data is more secure online than on your laptop or even on your computer’s hard drive. Laptops get stolen, offices get flooded, servers crash. In the 10 years that I’ve been using QuickBooks Online to manage my own books, I’ve been through about 7 computers, and I’ve never had to worry about losing data, or finding a disc to reinstall software.
In the cloud, collaboration is amplified with sales teams, project managers, accounting professionals and customers/clients, as so many online solutions offer real time collaboration. No more waiting to hear back from a client about a project or to find out what leads your sales staff are working. For our clients, the thing they love the most is they can do the parts of the accounting they feel comfortable with and want to do, and we manage the rest.
Rather than have to budget and account for depreciation on a large capital purchase like a new server or phone system, moving online allows business to budget for the research and implementation of a new cloud based service and it’s ongoing monthly subscriptions. Making changes from one to another can be done faster and with less capital outlay once a business moves online. We just helped a client find a new project management tool; they were able to test out a number of new ones with free trials and decide which one worked best and the process took a fraction of the time and money than it would have if they weren’t looking at SaaS solutions.
Better bottom line
I’ve seen it happen first hand. One way is because my clients are able to make more informed decisions about their business after moving online because they have up to date information on hand exactly when they need it. They can respond much faster when there’s a problem or complaint – and satisfied customers are some of the best marketing out there. Another is because they have the tools at their fingertips to close the sale while they’re sitting with the client.
One thing to keep in mind as well – scalability. Working online can work for a small bookkeeping & consulting firm, like mine, with a remote team of 3 that relies on Google Drive/Docs, a few mobile apps and instant messaging to support our clients. It works for the plumbing company with 60+ employees, that recently let the lease go on their 4000 square foot office space because they made the move to the cloud for their timeclock, estimates project management, procurement and A/P processing. It even works for the global software developer with thousands of employees located around the world.
Just remember: get online, or get left behind.
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