Most small businesses need access to enterprise level software, especially in terms of customer relationship management (CRM) software, but they don't have the budget. Therefore, business owners turn to cloud applications that offer useful technology for a budget friendly monthly rental fee. With the advent of cloud apps experts worried about security, and surely there have been a few instances where that fear proved correct. However, the truth is, a small business can enjoy using secure enterprise level software with cloud based business apps.
Cloud based "software as a service" (Saas) applications are a great way for any business to access software from anywhere, with any device , as long as they have an Internet connection. There are many reasons why businesses love SaaS. Most of us already know that start up costs are low when using SaaS applications, that the software can usually be scaled up or down as needed, and that administrative costs are next to nothing. It's downright exciting for small business owners to know that other than the normal monthly rental fee, there are no other costs. Additionally, SaaS cloud applications usually offer free tutorials or training.
If a small business owner has recognized the need for certain types of software, such as CRM software, he or she should always investigate cloud based apps. Buying physical software often costs more in the short-term and even the long-term today, when you factor in how fast software upgrades are developed, as well as the cost of having technical experts in-house. To ensure that a small businesses choose the best technology, it helps to know what questions to ask.
- Is the company financially fit? — It's very important to check out the company putting out the software. If the business isn't solid, and goes bust, you cannot access your data. Imagine the cost of that!
- Is the software secure? — Make them show you and explain how secure their system is, and why. Do they have systems in place to avoid hackers accessing the data?
- Will data be protected from loss? — How do they back up your data, and how often do they back up your data? Do they use redundant systems, or something else?
- What is the server up time? — How often do they have issues that cause their server to be down for any reason, including maintenance?
- Is the software user-friendly? — When you give the software a test drive, does it seem easy for you to use? Does it crash? Is it fast? Is it slow? Write down your thoughts as you use it.
- Does the software work as advertised? — Is there anything that seems off during your test run that is contrary to the copy on their website and in their marketing materials? When approached about these issues what is their response?
- How are customer relations handled? — How fast can you get assistance when you need it? Will you use a ticketing system, have telephone access, or something else?
- Does it serve my needs? — Does the software provide the tools you need? Do you really need it? Write down a complete wish list of your needs, then choose two or three CRM apps to try using the free trial option. Note how many of your requirements each cloud based app meets.
- Is the service expandable? — Will you outgrow the system? It's much better to pay for more than you need, than get stuck with a system you will quickly outgrow. If the service is expandable this is much better, but ensure that it's not limited.
- Is it within my budget? — Determine a budget that is reasonable and stick to it. Consider how cloud applications save money in terms of personnel, computing resources, and training.
By answering these questions a small business can choose appropriate cloud based applications and CRM software to take their business to the next level.