Will the cloud help to manage your operations more effectively?
Recently, accounting firm William Buck conducted a series of interviews with small business owners in a variety of industries. The goal was to identify their challenges, opportunities and threats.
Small business owners looking to the cloud
The interviews revealed that many small business owners are looking to the cloud to manage their operations more effectively.
Five top tips to small business owners thinking of moving to the cloud
Scott Harrington, director of business advice at William Buck, shared his five top tips to small business owners thinking of moving to a cloud environment:
- Decide which of your business processes or systems should be moved to the cloud, taking a broader approach than just your accounting systems.
- Plan how you can streamline and simplify your processes before you move. “Don’t expect broken processes or systems to be automatically fixed.”
- Understand your needs, from business reporting to information and workflow. “Begin with the problem, then work through to the solution. No one program fits all – starting with a solution in mind may not actually address your needs.”
- Research the options, and speak to people who have already moved to a new system. Make sure the provider has substance, and can deliver results. “Many cloud systems are set up for micro businesses, but are not suited for growing or complex businesses.”
- Plan how the cloud will work for you in the future. “If you have growth plans – is it a system that will grow with you, and be scalable?”
Four major benefits of cloud-based solutions
Of the small business owners who were interviewed and who subsequently had moved to a cloud-based solution, four major benefits were highlighted:
- Access to live data, with live cash flow information: Using this data to track business results and target the action required in a timely manner has led to substantive changes in those businesses.
- Automation of information flow: Removing the data input stage creates a more time effective process, allowing staff to concentrate on other areas of the business.
- Ease of access: The whole team, from the owner, to finance, sales, external advisers and so on can access the same data at the same time, and load new data (such as sales or orders) directly to the system.
- Streamlining of processes: Moving to the cloud is a chance to review, simplify, and streamline what the business does and how it does it. Making information input and extraction simpler creates knock-on benefits throughout the business.