Cloud computing is dramatically changing the way companies do business. The term originated in the ‘60s from the cloud symbol used in flow charts and diagrams to represent the internet. Today, “the cloud” is synonymous with web applications, web apps, online software and software as a service (SaaS). Cloud-based apps make data accessible online — anytime, anywhere and from any device. Rather than rely on hard drives or in-house servers to store and access data, you simply connect to the internet.
This ease of access, combined with numerous other practical advantages, makes cloud apps a strategic choice for small businesses. Let’s explore that further.
In any discussion about cloud apps vs. desktop apps, it’s important to understand that the cloud is just a new way of delivering software to small business owners. Instead of purchasing software at a store, inserting a CD-ROM into your computer and loading the software onto a hard drive, you access various features through a web service that utilizes remote servers. There’s no physical product to buy or installment hassles with cloud apps; you just log in through a web browser and start working.
Digging a bit deeper, you may question if there’s a difference between cloud apps and web apps. For most casual users, not really. Cloud-based apps are advanced forms of web apps, so they typically provide more robust features. There are behind-the-scenes technical variations between the two as well, such as multiple vs. single-location data center storage, server hosting and synchronicity.
When making the switch from traditional software to cloud-based apps, you can expect the following advantages:
Lower costs — Because cloud services work with your existing platform and eliminate the need for traditional software, you can do more with less. This can add up to significant savings in installation, maintenance, upgrades and IT support costs.
Quick implementation — When you work with the right provider, your setup time is minimal (and the positive impact for your business, nearly immediate). Reputable software providers recognize the demands on your time – and work hard to design applications that are fast, flexible and easy to adopt.
Easier sharing — Especially appealing for smaller businesses, collaboration is a breeze in the cloud. Multiple employees can work in shared documents and programs without having to be in the same location.
More flexibility — As the workplace becomes more mobile and open to remote working arrangements, the ability to access work-related information anytime, anywhere and from any device is a huge plus. Whether working from home or on a business trip, you can tap into the necessary files.
Greater integration — By integrating with various cloud-based providers for your day-to-day operations (from human resources to marketing to accounting), you can focus on other business priorities — all the while boosting your overall efficiency and productivity.
By selecting single apps that address a specific HR issue, you won’t pay for more than you need, which saves you money.
While this is good news, any shift in how you do business — especially when it involves critical files and data — requires a careful approach. Moving to the cloud can be storm-free if you weigh these five important factors:
This is number one with a bullet. Because you’re trusting your data to a third party, you can’t be too careful about choosing the most reliable and secure provider. To protect your data from unauthorized use and other risks, a cloud computing service should offer password protection, the latest data encryption and SSL enforcement for secure HTTPS access. Steer clear of any provider that can’t verify its security practices.
Understanding and getting comfortable with a cloud service shouldn’t be a frustrating and time-consuming experience. Seek out services that are practical and intuitive, where you can quickly transfer existing information to the app and easily navigate all the features. Watch the demos and sign up for any free trials to test the service first-hand before making a commitment.
When weighing cloud services, make sure you understand what is covered in the monthly service and what is extra. Verify the system requirements, too, as this could create additional costs for your business. Requirements may include high-speed internet connection, certain web browsers and operating systems, and Adobe Acrobat Reader to view reports.
Cloud-based services can eliminate a lot of your hardware maintenance issues and ongoing reliance on IT assistance. That being said, no system is perfect — and professional support should be readily available if you encounter snags. Ideally, you should have a few different ways to reach someone — whether email, instant chat or a telephone call — if you need help.
It’s easy to move your employee management responsibilities online with HRdirect Smart Apps. Each app is designed to solve a single, specific employee management task – from hiring, onboarding and recordkeeping to attendance tracking, performance management and posting and policy compliance. Working together or independently, HRdirect Smart Apps give small business owners the ability to customize their HR solutions while eliminating unnecessary HR burdens.
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At ComplyRight, our mission is to free employers from the burden of tracking and complying with the complex web of federal, state and local employment laws, so they can stay focused on managing and growing their businesses.
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