The cloud has become the place to be, right?
We’ve all heard that for so long, that we believe it’s what we want; but there’s far more to this question than meets the eye…first of all, which cloud? Would you be surprised to know that ‘the cloud’ can be a public place or a private place? And that the software you’re considering might be the deciding factor? Why would that be?
Some software programs are written to be ‘browser based’. Simply put it means that your software was designed to be accessed in the cloud, or as it’s sometimes described: online.
The most common reasons for this are that the software needs to be accessed from your office, but also by team members that might work outside of the office or are traveling; CRM is a good example of this kind of software.
Some software programs have both an ‘on premise’ version and a ‘cloud based’ version, and often the cloud based version has lower startup costs; good to know if you need to limit initial costs. That’s especially important if you weren’t planning on buying a server or hiring an IT person to manage it; at least not at the start. But doesn’t your company’s size also a factor in these decisions?
Yes, size certainly does matter. And although there will always be some types of software that should be in the cloud, as your company grows, you may want to have your operational, accounting and finance software packages in house.
The recommendations we all hear to move to the cloud are because approximately 85% of all companies are fairly small, their needs are fairly uncomplicated, don’t have a full time IT person and they have relatively few people accessing their software outside of their offices.
But as companies grow, so do their needs and the number of people who need to access and work with all the software packages that your company needs.
And that brings us to the next challenge
As a young company’s needs evolve, they will add additional software packages to handle those needs. Having multiple, unintegrated software packages isn’t ideal no matter where they are located. Very often, all the software is in the cloud, but they are different, unconnected clouds, and the data is very difficult or impossible to integrate.
Nobody wants to have their team duplicating their work in multiple software programs, it’s a total waste of time and all too often leads to a ton of data entry errors. Typically, it doesn’t take too long for some to wonder what it will take to connect all the programs, getting them to ‘talk to’ one another….and sometimes that’s possible even if it’s not economically viable.
If your company is just starting up, the cloud is an ok place to be. Startup costs are minimal and most online programs will be just fine for your needs. The important things to consider are:
what tasks do we need the software to do? Just accounting tasks like sending out invoices to customers, paying vendors and reconciling banks? Do we want to run Payroll or does our company prefer an outside service for this? If we are running our payroll on premise, do we also need Human Resources (HR)? Do we need to create Purchase Orders so that we can be sure that vendors are billing our company at the agreed upon pricing? Do we need to track costs by Project? What does our sales process need? Do we want to send out estimates or quotes? Do we need to create orders before we invoice our clients or customers?
These questions and a few more are all worth considering before you select an accounting/ financial software package for your company. And you might also have other software needs, like operational software specific to your industry. You’ll want your software to be manageable by your current team, but also scalable to meet your short term foreseeable needs; about three to five years in your future.
When your company begins to grow rapidly, you have lots of team members (in the office and maybe some remote), you aren’t easily able to get the reports and information that you need, or too many people are entering the same information into multiple systems; it’s most likely time to look at financial/ operating systems that are more robust and may run on a local server in your office.
At that point, you’ll want to reassess what your current software packages aren’t doing for you, and where the tedious, repetitive tasks are taking up team members time, as your best return on investment will be with those tasks.
Not only can you save money by having your computer system do the heavy lifting, you will also be freeing up your key people to do more important tasks that only they can do.
Have more questions? Not sure where your company fits in all this? Email me through our contact page and lets set up a time to chat. It would be my honor to help you sort things out.