Software as a Service (SaaS) is becoming more and more popular, and it’s allowing small businesses the opportunity to purchase licensing to software that they might not have had access to. Subscription cloud-based software is definitely a growing trend and with so many options for businesses, it’s practically a no-brainer to swap some of your services to the cloud. But the consideration comes with a list of questions: Which ones are the best for your business? How much do they cost? Are they truly better than the solutions you have now?
We get asked these questions all the time – and I’m happy to say that I’ve compiled a list of cloud services that I think all small businesses should consider:
- Google Apps
Google apps is a great way for small businesses to gain access to cloud-based file storage, professional e-mail, shared calendars and more – all accessible from a desktop, laptop, tablet, or other mobile device. You also have access to Google’s online tools for editing documents, including text files, spreadsheets and slides. This means that you can edit those documents from any device without having to purchase Microsoft licensing for that particular device. Pricing starts at $5/month per user for 30GB of online storage, but for just $5 more per month per user you gain access to unlimited storage, advanced admin controls for Google Drive, insights and statistics on your content and sharing, Google Vault and more. What could this potentially replace? E-mail service, an internal file server and calendars to start.
- Office 365
Office 365 is a great way to get Microsoft application licensing broken down into a monthly price per user. Office 365 includes e-mail hosting, product licenses, shared calendars, instant messaging and video conferencing. There is also an app, making all of the applications that your users need on a daily basis available on any device. Because most organizations use Microsoft Office, the question of whether to do Office 365 versus purchasing individual licensing every few years is usually what businesses need to ask themselves. Some businesses might prefer to pay a little more in the long term to have the reduced short-term cost and the continual feature updates. There’s also the consideration of whether your business requires the flexibility of being able to manipulate data on the go or access files from anywhere.
If you’re looking strictly for file storage options in the cloud, and have a lot of users or are looking for a really great interface with administrative access – Box is a great solution for larger teams. The service also allows you to securely share files with certain people within your organization. There are file size restrictions, so you’ll want to take that into account, though it’s rare that companies are creating files larger than 5GB (the limitation on Box). Where Box excels is for larger businesses or enterprise organizations that need a place to securely store documents with everyone.
- Quickbooks Online
Quickbooks desktop is a great solution for businesses, but QuickBooks online edition complements it well. For example, with Quickbooks Online you can have anytime, anywhere access to Quickbooks for up to 25 users, whereas Quickbooks Desktop only offers remote access via Webex for a single user. Upgrades are also free to Quickbooks Online users, includes support at no additional cost and there is an inventory tracking option. It’s worthwhile to note that some of the features in Quickbooks Desktop are not included in Quickbooks Online, like bill pay and point of sale integration. It’s important to gauge which features are most important to you and choose the one that’s right for your organization.
Cloud applications and services are one thing, but understanding exactly what a cloud move means for your business from a security and logistics standpoint is another. Make sure that you assess each service’s individual features before you choose one for your organization.