The cloud is transforming business productivity, giving small companies the efficiency to compete on a more level playing field with larger businesses. Business practices that once had to be done manually can now be automated, enabling businesses with a small staff to more easily handle larger volumes of work.
Cloud based tools for marketing, video conferencing, financial management, data gathering and e-commerce are empowering small businesses to scale up their productivity and boost their profits.
Using SaaS to Boost Productivity
The cloud’s productivity stems from the efficiency of cloud-based services, which go by the name SaaS or Software as a Service. SaaS refers to software services you can access through your web browser.
These services allow you to perform business functions without having to download software to your desktop. Just create an account and tap into the software online, which is hosted in the cloud at a remote location.
One major advantage of these cloud-based tools is the ability to dial in efficiency. Whether you’re a startup or an established business, it’s simple to scale up as you grow or down during quieter periods.
Five ways you can use SaaS to boost your productivity
Use email marketing to connect with customers
Social networks are some of the most popular SaaS applications in the world, and are a powerful force for marketing products and keeping customers informed about the organization. Yet for all their hype, social networks are not nearly as effective as email in terms of marketing. MailChimp, for example, is one of the most powerful email marketing tools available for SMEs. It has beautiful templates, simple interfaces and world-class reporting that lets you understand where your customers are, who’s engaging with your content and what links are the most popular.
Conduct meetings remotely with video conferencing
With more and more employees working from home or from remote locations, a video conferencing tool for collaboration is a powerful asset to keep everyone connected and working toward the same goals. Zoom is an app that provides great video and sound quality, the ability to chat via text, share screens remotely and much more.
Manage your financials from anywhere
Stay on top of your financials with a user-friendly online accounting tool. From business reports to creating VAT returns and monitoring cash flow, QuickBooks Online allows you to work seamlessly with an accountant via simple file-sharing and collaboration tools.
Upload documents and data on the go
More and more business is being done out in the field in a mobile environment. For taking notes, scanning images, uploading photos and creating lists that automatically sync with your other devices, Evernote is a seamless and sophisticated tool that gets better with every update.
Expand your sales with cloud-based e-commerce
If you’re planning to sell products via your website or engaging in any form of e-commerce, consider using Shopify to build your online store. Shopify’s online shopping cart will integrate with your website, has powerful tools and templates and offers a 30-day free trial period. Bonus: It’s a great option for those who aren’t tech savvy.
Getting Comfortable with the Cloud
Making large changes to the way you’re accustomed to working can be challenging and the idea of moving to the cloud may take some adjustment. Many companies have concerns around issues like security and access to data, as well as learning new processes and techniques to run a business.
These concerns can be addressed through experience, training and the excellent customer support from cloud providers. The cloud represents a new set of possibilities and cost savings for your business. In terms of security, reputable cloud companies have the resources and means to provide robust and extensive security measures.
Consider how your workflow will interface with your new cloud tools. Follow up by training employees in your new procedures. When it comes to migrating to the cloud, just stay informed about your provider and educate yourself and your team as you implement changes.
Stepping up Productivity
Rather than trying to move all your business processes to the cloud at once, start by picking an area of focus where your company could benefit the most in terms of efficiency, whether it’s marketing, accounting or using online tools for collaboration.
Identify areas where cloud applications would maximize your productivity and prioritize these. Start small and keep it simple. One benefit of the cloud is that you can easily scale.
While you figure out your best strategy and what aspects of the cloud are best suited to your business, you might consider adopting a hybrid approach where you integrate your on-premises system with your new cloud-based system until you are comfortable with your cloud service providers and your cloud migration strategy. As you notice productivity gains and get comfortable with cloud-based apps, you’ll likely find yourself moving more and more tasks to the cloud.