Cloud-Based Business Software: A Guide for Small Businesses

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Businesses can now track accounts and analyse their accounts on a real-time basis. (Image: Supplied)
Businesses can now track accounts and analyse their accounts on a real-time basis. (Image: Supplied)

The chances are that you are already making use of cloud-based software in your daily life, for personal and business, without knowing that various cloud-based tools can offer tremendous value to your business that you may not even be aware of yet.

What is cloud-based software?

Cloud-based software provides different users real-time access to a mobile device or laptop applications, all running on shared computing resources via the internet. In short, it allows us to remotely run the software and/or store data on other computers globally hosted by remote data centres.

We live in a society where instant gratification has become part of our daily life and for business owners being able to access your real-time business data from anywhere not only speaks to this human requirement psychologically but also to the tremendous business benefits of now being able to make informed decisions on a real-time basis. This can dramatically improve business operations, client management and overall employee and client satisfaction.

What is cloud-based business software used for?

I’m sure many of us will remember storing and processing data on local hard drives, CD’s or flash drives and then trying to manage the logistics of getting the information to the right people on time, all with a deadline looming in the background. Cloud-based software has changed this for us all, as data and information can now be stored and processed on a remote online location. If a device has access to the internet, it can gain access to the data as well as software programmes necessary to run it. This enables software to be updated live instead of uploading it from a CD or your local hard drive.

The benefits of cloud-based software:

Processes are automated, therefore, it's faster, cost-effective and more efficient. Another benefit is that it’s environmentally beneficial, as all inventory is done on the cloud - not on paper.

In addition, cloud-based software streamlines business operations as data is centralised and all processes are monitored in real-time. ERP and other operating systems ultimately have a benefit on the company's financial situation as it limits labour intensive tasks by automating these processes for the business on a day to day basis.

How can we ensure data stays safe in the cloud?

Servers are kept secure by restricting access to them and are usually only open to specific staff with access privileges.

Encryption is a standard method to keep files safe because it makes it difficult for cybercriminals to access information. It is important to note that consistent security updates are essential as these updates are designed to keep viruses off devices and cloud-based software. Software companies must regularly run security upgrades on their servers to ensure the information they host stays safe.

These companies also hire independent security parties to test the servers and software as well as utilise artificial intelligence to analyse the security system and look for possible vulnerable areas. A good example is a business with an AI Algorithm that sends out phishing emails to their employees asking for encryption keys while analysing the need for further training.

Companies also use firewalls to filter unwanted traffic and keep hackers and viruses out of the system and off the cloud.

BaseCloud

How can cloud-based services improve business operations?

Cloud-based software offers small to medium sized businesses from different sectors various benefits, including access to software and emails from all devices, either via a phone app or a browser. This significantly reduces costs and increases productivity, speed, efficiency, performance and security.

Business owners can also make use of remote (Cloud-Based) data storage services like Dropbox, Google Drive or OneDrive, allowing employees to save files on the go, with the rest of the team having immediate access.

Businesses no longer need to invest in expensive information technology but merely require a good internet connection to ensure employees have access to powerful cloud-based applications to complete their daily tasks. There are various cloud-based software applications that can help you manage and analyse the financial as well as the operational functions of your business.

Examples of effective remote software solutions:

Xero

Xero is a great example of a cloud-based application for not only accounting firms but also an ideal accounting software, together with its application marketplace platform of over 900 cloud-based applications for small to medium-sized businesses.

Xero also assists businesses by automating the majority of the accounting processing, leaving you only to focus on the more intuitive processing requirements, as well as the fact that you can work from anywhere, anytime. Connect Xero to your bank for automatic bank feeds and experience how easily bank and financial information can be synced.

You can also capture bills and receipts via email or scan documents from your mobile device. All your information is in one place and your documents are stored online for quick and simple access; this allows for one powerful version of the truth and streamlined tasks. Xero’s open API allows for easy integration into other software solutions or plug and play into over 900 existing business operational software solutions resulting in a scalable business solution for your business.

Business Operational software solutions would, as an example but not limited to, be your ERP, Inventory Management, Project Management and Point of Sale Solutions.

Dear Inventory

Dear Inventory is a Xero Approved cloud-based ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software that assists you in managing your business efficiently and effectively by allowing instant insight into sales and purchase order statuses, as well as your real-time stock levels.

Your final accounting-related data is then seamlessly synced into Xero, allowing for a realtime financial view as well for your management and accounting team. Old traditional systems cannot compete in terms of the speed and cost-effectiveness of cloud ERP software.

When it comes to streamlining your business, there are different ways that businesses can use cloud-based software services, which are not only limited to small to medium-sized entities.

Additional software to include could be Google Cloud (a suite of cloud computing services that runs on the same infrastructure that Google uses internally for its end-user products, such as Google Search, Gmail, Google Drive, GoogleMeet and YouTube). This could be used for your emailing, document storage as well as an integration into a ticketing system software such as Freshdesk or HubSpot.

BaseCloud

Optimise your business operations

Your business is valuable, and we all know time is money; therefore, making the right decision regarding cloud-based services may seem daunting. Ensure you invest in thorough consultations and the research necessary to make sure that you make the right decision that will not only cater for your business needs now but will also, very importantly, be scalable for the future growth and dynamic of your business.

As a business owner, one cannot underestimate the value of a thorough GAP Analysis to determine what software solutions your company may benefit from, like those mentioned above.

Invest in a consultation with the experts from Nimacc Business Lounge, who are management consultants, specialising in digital strategy, ensuring smooth setup, implementation and training of these software solutions for your business.

Benefits and limits of cloud accounting software

Accounting software assists in general accounting processes, invoice and bills management, salaries, as well as profit and loss trend analysis. These software packages used to be installed on desktops where you could work on data in only one location from one computer.

Technology has thankfully evolved, and cloud-based accounting software has been the new trend for quite some time now, enabling you to work on cloud-based software in the office, close the laptop and log in to your accounting profile online on a different device and continue working on the same document. Small to medium sized businesses can usually use these cloud-based software packages without customisations and high setup costs.

However, as a company grows and the accounting needs become more complex, especially where stock and inventory management is involved, they may need more integrated operational systems.

This could include, but is not limited to, an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system in order to integrate and automate core business processes in relation to inventory records and relevant financial data. These ERP systems improve and support the efficiency of business operations by allowing for improved resource and stock planning.

BaseCloud

How to select the right software to ensure your business grows

When choosing the correct software, a couple of factors should be considered. Firstly avoid shiny objects syndrome and keep it as simple as possible. Additional factors to consider would be the number of users, the industry, access to a good internet connection, the current challenges experienced as well as the future plans for the company in terms of scalability.

Our technical world is changing every day and our lives are managed by cloud-based solutions allowing us to be more efficient and productive in a shorter space of time. Cloudbased solutions have given us more efficient, effective and real-time business solutions, where teamwork is not only possible from different locations but also instant and efficient.

Businesses can now track accounts and analyse their accounts on a real-time basis. That being said, they are more in control of their inventory, customer service, management, and profitability.

The world of Cloud-based software is the foundation of tech innovation and offers various value-added benefits to our everyday lives when used to its full benefit. Cloud-based services offer small to medium-sized businesses the opportunity to become more competitive in today’s market at an affordable price with minimum effort.

This post and content is sponsored, written and provided by BaseCloud.

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