A decision to move to the cloud can be tough for a small business to make. It can take a lot of software to run a small business, so giving up the boxes and disks can be a difficult and sometimes hard to justify. The most important thing about a move to the cloud is to understand the benefits and the drawbacks.
In this short article we’ll touch on seven reasons your company should already be making the move to the cloud, and what you’ll gain from it. If you’ve enjoyed this article, check out our other article at http://cloudlinkerp.com/?page_id=2, and learn “How to use the Cloud to make it Rain Money.” The title is bold and obnoxious, but we believe that any small business, who hasn’t already started to move to the cloud, is missing out on money their company could be making.
Let’s get started with the first reason: Customers are everywhere, so you need to be able to sell everywhere. It seems like a simple enough premise, and many companies will look at this and say, “sure, I can do that.” What most don’t realize is that they are either wrong, or using a very disjointed process to accomplish this. That of course is a claim that needs some substantiation.
I’d like to look at the case of a company who I will leave unnamed. I met the owner of this company at an art festival in Tempe, Arizona. She had a busy booth, and while I was there sold at least six pieces. In a conversation with her, I learned that on that very day her husband, and her son were at two different art festivals in other parts of the country. She used the Square® reader, and so did her husband and son. It was great because she could share the data in square, and then easily download it in a CSV format.
She was pleased with her solution and while we were talking, she felt proud of what she had arrived at. Then, something surprising happened. She had a large piece in the middle of her display that she hadn’t brought enough stock for. A person walked into the booth, and asked for two of them. She knew what she needed to do was place an order – and her current solution wasn’t ready for that.
Within a few minutes she had an order written up on paper, and though she’d lost a few potential sales in people waiting for her to finish writing up the order, she’d collected the information she needed to get this order processed. Within another few minutes, another customer was asking about the painting. They wanted to know how quickly they’d get it, and suddenly she didn’t have any answers. She suddenly felt like her solution was inadequate.
The first part of the problem was that she wasn’t truly connected to her husband and son, so she had no idea what they had sold. There was no easy way to see that without some research, download and parsing through sales files. The second part was that she didn’t even know what she had back at her home base. Having a better, integrated cloud solution would have solved this problem for her, and probably resulted in more sales, with more immediate collection – at potentially the same cost.
This leads us into the second point. You need to know what you have, wherever and whenever you are selling. In the case of our example this was her biggest foe. When it came to her inventory she was lost. It was something her existing solution simply didn’t care about.
A robust cloud solution would either have been able to connect to something that would manage that factor of her business, or at least give her some easy to use metrics and information on that subject. Instead, she was left with questions, and loss of business because she simply didn’t know.
A later conversation with her revealed that both orders she had taken on paper had canceled when she tried to connect with them after she had arrived home. It had also turned out that her son and husband had the exact same issue on more than one occasion at their shows as well. The amount of money missed: $3,200. That’s a pretty big loss for something that a $30 per month investment could have fixed.
The next most important reason to move to the cloud is to always stay connected. Another client I met recently had an accounting package on her desktop in her office, and used a spreadsheet to manage her customers and customer appointments. She found herself out at lunch with me, and during the lunch struggled to make a phone call back to her office while trying to walk someone through how to retrieve the information she needed.
The end result was sad. She lost a customer because they always felt like she didn’t have the information she needed, and because of that, she was starting to feel glued to her desk, a feeling that no small business owner ever wants to have.
With a great cloud solution she’d have access to her customer files right from her smart phone, or tablet, and if she didn’t have one, an investment of $500 or less would be all that kept her from that information.
This leads nicely into my next point, you own a business – you should have a smartphone. This of course isn’t a reason you should move to the cloud. The real reason is connectivity. With a smartphone you can do business anywhere, and you can enable the ability to do everything I’ve already talked about. Imagine the difference between doing business tied to your desk, and being able to do business from wherever you want – how about the golf course, or the beach anyone?
On that note, the next important reason is you’ve got to keep a handle on your time. A recent meeting with a contractor gave me some interesting insights into these potential problems for small companies. How much time are you spending on things, and as a result of that do you know what these things cost you?
This contractor had several small crews he ran during the day to install cables in the ground for a national telecom company. His problem was simple, because they found it difficult to track time they paid everyone based on a specific installation task, and trusted their employees would always be able to report this correctly.
Of course the first problem is that the entire process was on paper. This meant that billing was sometimes off, and reporting was incorrect. The bigger problem was that it didn’t tell them how long a job actually took, meaning their scheduling of crews was often wrong. They either had large gaps of time in between appointments, or had appointments that ended up overlapping. Both of them cost money in different ways.
Having a cloud-based solution to handle this could have saved them money in two important places. The first is the time management itself. The second is the time it took to handle all that paperwork. All of the staff has smartphones, so having them put the data directly into the system as users was a much better approach, that reduced processing time for other employees, allowing them to focus on more important, and more profitable work.
The fact that the staff in this example had smartphones takes us into the next reason. Connecting your employees is as important as connecting your customers. A great cloud system can give you the power to empower your staff with better information and accessibility. Think about mobile text dispatch. This kind of solution lets you send a text message to your staff when they have an appointment with a link that will pull up the details of the task, and give them access to related customer records, project details, and potentially any equipment or parts they might need to take with them.
The last reason, and just as important as the rest is interconnectivity. There are thousands of cloud software options, but they don’t all come the same. The ones that can easily connect and interconnect give you the ability to erase the bane of a truly efficient business – double data entry. Double and even triple data entry can cost you hours and hours of your time and the time of your staff, adding up over the course of a year to very significant numbers. With the right cloud solutions you should NEVER have to enter data into systems twice.
As I’ve said before, all cloud solutions aren’t made the same. CloudLink ERP was designed with all of these truly important problems and solutions in mind. It was designed to give you an edge up on the competition by making you more agile, more efficient, and more profitable. To find out more about CloudLink ERP, and what it can do for your business, contact us at http://www.cloudlinkerp.com.