Starting a business is easy, but running it successfully is complex. The key to any successful business is how well it is organized. Micromanagement is a daunting task. It takes a lot of time, energy, and money, and the business still may not see the success it strives for.
However, with the advent of cloud computing, things are not as complex as before. Today, businesses have the option and opportunity to explore several cloud-based tools that simplify management and help them learn, work, and earn faster, better, and smarter.
Here are five cloud tools that every business must explore.
Cloud-accounting software is a wise investment if the objective is smart business management. Desktop-based traditional accounting software is tedious and takes too much time, effort, and doesn’t add any value. It allows access to only one user, even when other key people need access. Also, it works on only one computer, it’s expensive and time consuming to upgrade and it’s complicated to keep backups for.
QuickBooks is a popular tool that makes the job easy. It costs $12.95/month and includes a 30-day free trial. With QuickBooks, businesses can create invoices, monitor sales and expenses, access business data on any mobile device, download and review banking transactions and much more. The best part is, it also offers a few add-ons if a business needs more functionality.
This is one of the most important tools every business must have. Dropbox is a pioneer in this category. It is very useful if there are multiple teams located across different offices. Earlier, email was the only mode with which to share and exchange files, creating a lot of inbox clutter. But with Dropbox, all documents can be kept synchronized across multiple computers and accessed any time without the mundane task of searching through clutter.
It has a 14-day free trial and then costs $15/user/month– starting with five users. The default storage space is 5TB for five users with more as the number of users grows. It provides unlimited file recovery facilities, admin controls for secure collaboration and sharing, dedicated mobile app for iOS and Android, and many more useful features. There are more than 4 million businesses that use Dropbox, including prominent brands like National Geographic, Foursquare, Zendesk and Eventbrite.
CRM refers to the system through which businesses market, sell and deliver services to clients. Apps like Salesforce simplify this job nicely. In fact, it is the proverbial 800-pound gorilla among cloud-based CRM tools.
Salesforce offers all the crucial features any business needs such as task and event tracking, customizable reports and dashboards, case management, account and contact management, opportunity tracking, lead scoring, routing and assignment and many more. Also, it offers an interesting feature called “Chatter,” which is an enterprise social network and a unique way to make team members work efficiently across organizational boundaries.
Salesforce is affordable and comes at a price of $5/month with the contact-management feature. However, its group package, which costs $25/user/month, offers all the basic sales and marketing features that a business may require. It has a limit of five users, but for $250/user/month, you can access the unlimited version. Salesforce is a trusted CRM service provider for leading brands like Wells Fargo, Virgin, Philips, Coca-Cola and Vodafone.
Any business’s success largely depends on how well its employees communicate and collaborate with each other, and tools like Office 365 from Microsoft make communicating simple. The biggest advantage it offers is familiarity with the Office suite to businesses that use it already. Office 365 gives businesses a team site to manage and share business documents in real-time. It also offers project management facility, online-video conferencing, screen sharing, and instant messaging using the Lync web app.
It starts as low as $5/user/month with features like unlimited storage/users, 50GB mail inbox, unlimited online meetings, and a corporate social network with a threshold of 300 users at maximum. Some renowned brands that use Office 365 are British Airways, Carlsberg, and MetLife.
Gone are the days when ERP was considered an expensive technology and required a hefty capital investment to set up. With the rise of cloud ERP tools, today it has become pretty affordable for any sized business, even to bootstrapped start-ups. Some remarkable advantages it offers are easy interoperability, faster implementation, zero server maintenance cost, data back-up and greater accessibility in a dispersed environment.
NetSuite is an example of such a cloud ERP tool and a leading name in the industry. With partner providers like ERP Guru, it offers all the resource planning tools a business may need. It is also the industry’s first and only SaaS business software that offers all kinds of business management software solutions—from ERP to CRM, eCommerce, and professional services automation (PSA) —all under one roof. NetSuite has more than 16,000 customers using its service including brands like Siemens, Zendesk, Infusionsoft, DocuSign, and CommVault.
According to the Gartner report, by 2015, end-user spending on cloud services is expected to be more than $180 billion. Another report says 80% of cloud adopters witnessed a remarkable improvement within just six months of moving to the cloud. These statistics suggest that cloud computing is the future and if businesses don’t embrace it today, they will be left behind in a rapidly growing market.
So, which cloud tool do you plan to go for first? Are there any other tools you would like to recommend? Do leave your comments and thanks so much for reading!