What should SMBs consider when adopting the cloud?
The decision to move to the cloud is a multifaceted decision for any size business. As a small/midsize business (SMB) you will need to evaluate your current processes and weigh them against the potential gain of moving those processes to the cloud. Just like any important business decision, a good business practice is to conduct research, seek expert advice, and have the willingness to take a risk that could pay off big. The great news is we are willing to share our expertise and have already done the research for you!
Business Goals and Needs
Review the current environment to assess wants vs. needs. Having unlimited storage can sound great, but in reality you may only need 250GB of storage. Your cloud solutions can be and need to be tailored to the industry, solution, and workload. As a business owner you know what your goals are for your company, make sure the software is meeting your needs.
Will the cloud app grow with you? Where you are today is not where you will be in six months, a year, or even two years. Will the software grow with you or will the cost to add users be beyond what is cost effective? Some software will allow you to add for an additional fee per user while others have you add in groups of 10, 15 or even 50. Ensure that you are asking the correct question up front in order to determine if the cloud app is right for you.
How will you react in the event of an outage? Statistically, backing up data has been a weakness for small businesses. They circumvent traditional methods in order to save expenses. We have seen Small Businesses use a regular computer as their server, which might sound like a good idea, but when that computer fails the business is left in a difficult situation.
Does this cloud app/service allow you to share data with other systems and people? The key is to determine who you share your data with and/or which vendors do you use, then check if your cloud solution is compatible. For instance, if your accountant uses Accounting Software ABC to calculate your taxes, but you keep everything in Cloud Accounting Software XYZ, then you could run into a potential problem. These two programs and all their data may not be compatible (speak to each other). You are then left with the need to convert all your data for your accountant, which would be an added expense.
Ask the important question to the Software as a Service SaaS provider: “How do you plan to protect my data?” If they cannot answer this quickly or say ‘I will have to get back to you on that,’ then your data may be at risk. Cloud vendors should have redundant systems in place in the event of an outage, a backup plan in place, along with security measures to protect your data. Also, you need to have a plan in place if you let an employee go or they leave the company as they have had access to your cloud. Today’s businesses run a higher risk than in the past with so many outlets for mobile computing (phones/tablets/laptops) and the growing trend to ‘Bring Your Own Device’ to work.
Knowing you have enough space, when you need it is essential to a growing business. Not only do you want to ensure you have enough capacity for today, but also for the future. Planning for the future or knowing what the turnaround time on expanding your capacity as well as the cost associated with it is essential.
Moving your business to the cloud is a big decision. Doing the research and knowing the answers to all the right questions will help ensure that your transition to the cloud is smooth. You may even discover that it is wiser to wait to make the transition, but making an informed decision based on research and expert advice will ensure that you are making a sound business decision and not just jumping on the band wagon of the latest trend.