When thinking about making your business digital, the first thing that comes to mind for most entrepreneurs and business owners would usually be digital marketing. However, with hundreds of cloud-based apps starting up around the world, small businesses will continue to benefit from the lower costs of cloud-based services through competition and technology being more accessible such as big data, analytics, GPS, OCR (optical character recognition) and machine learning to name a few.
Gone are the days when the large organizations with $1m plus IT budgets could afford these types of systems with the support of ERP systems such as Oracle and SAP. The reverse is occurring where large businesses see cloud-based apps as more cost-effective, dynamic, and cost-effective to implement. So why cloud computing and in particular cloud-based apps? Cloud computing allows you to access your business data and applications from anywhere at any time and from any mobile device. In addition to this, many traditional desktop applications are disappearing with many accounting software vendors no longer having desktop software offerings - they have moved their products to the cloud and offer inexpensive, online subscription-based services that are ideal for small businesses.
How Cloud Computing Saves You Money
- Installation and Software Updates - You no longer have to pay someone to install, update your software, manage email servers and/or file servers, run backups, and maintain security. Cloud computing companies do this for you.
- You no longer have to buy the software license – most cloud-based applications allow you to use multiple devices with multiple user access. No need to retain serial numbers and CD drives of the software.
- Most cloud providers allow you to consolidate your separate application needs into one multi-application cloud computing service. For example, Google Apps for business includes email, calendar scheduling, Google Docs (word/excel/PowerPoint alternative), and online file storage.
- Free-up hardware processes - file storage, data backup, and software programs all take up a lot of space on servers/computers. With cloud computing, you use the cloud service provider's servers to store all this data instead. This gives you the flexibility to free up hardware processes on your device, use multiple workstations/laptops and if you happen to lose your laptop, you can continue working on a fresh laptop within minutes.
- Most cloud service providers use APIs (Application Programming Interface) to make communication between different cloud applications easier. This saves you time and money from creating customized integrations.
- Cloud applications are regularly updated; therefore, you don't have to spend time and money doing it – and giving you the advantage of always having access to an application's latest features and functions.
Other Cloud Computing Advantages
Since cloud applications are browser-based they are accessible from mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones. For example, cloud-based accounting applications come with Android or Apple compatible mobile applications that allow you to access your accounting data from any mobile device and send invoices, track expenses, etc. on the run.
Specific Cloud-Based Apps, our CFO services can help you with
More specific scenarios where cloud-based apps can range from CRM to time tracking and Accounting systems. Examples are as follows:
Email marketing & CRM
A CRM system is vital for sales and customer relations, many CRM systems are available on the cloud and integrate with many different systems. Examples of CRM systems available include SalesForce, Pipedrive, and Zoho to name a few.
Job system/workflow management
Making sure you have a tool that helps you keep track of your business is essential. Using systems such as Xero Projects or WorkflowMax can make the task of tracking costs on projects very easy and efficient for service providers. These applications allow you to assign work, invoices and obtain payment on the go. They are also powerful tools to gain insight that can help you tweak your profit margin. Some businesses may not be able to increase prices but can keep an eye on costs to increase profit margins.
Having a tool that helps you track seasonal fluctuations, keep on top of your ordering, and make sure that shrinkage is under control is vital. It’s also important to have a strong understanding of the cost of warehousing as getting this wrong will reduce profit margins. The important thing here is to do the research and get advice on which system suits you in your current business phase. A basic inventory system will do for most start-ups but a more comprehensive inventory system will be essential for a more mature business which includes serial numbers, barcodes, and GPS tracking.
Being Xero advisors and having used much different accounting software from large companies to small we recommend Xero every time. One of the key benefits of Xero is that it allows you to automate processes. From repeating invoices to invoice reminders. Snap a picture of your petrol or parking receipt and email it to Xero expenses then you’re done. Forward your supplier invoices to Xero bills and it populates a draft invoice with the bill attached and ready for approval, or better still set up a forwarding rule in your email. Another benefit is that you can go paperless by saving all the paperwork to Xero storage – just snap a pic or scan and email directly to the storage facility, or drag and drop. This all results in more free time for staff and allows you to focus more on the business. If you would like to know more about Xero or would like to take up our discounted implementation offer, submit your contact details here and one of our consultants will be in touch.
This article contains extracts from the Xero website and is written in general terms and therefore cannot be relied on to cover specific situations; application of the principles set out will depend upon the particular circumstances involved and we recommend that you obtain professional advice before acting or refraining from acting on any of its contents.