More Online Software – The Trick is Knowing What to Pick

Yesterday I wrote about Microsoft’s new Office Live online software for building a website and online collaboration. Today I’d like to introduce you to another online set of tools from SMB Live which provides a suite of tools to help you manage your business. SMB Live provides an extranet (so you can build custom web sites just for your partners/customers), intranet (so you can collaborate with your staff), online applications for a range of tasks including customer relations management, sales, marketing and more.
SMB Live is similar to WebEx One (read my review) but in addition to only a collaborative environment (intranet) you get Salesforce.com, NetSuite type applications as well.
SMB Live costs $10 (for the collaboration part) or $20 (for the collaboration and applications) per month.
The challenge for YOU is really deciding what hosted application to build your business on. If you have a very small business, 5 people or so – your needs are a bit easier to define and you might have the flexibility to try out different solutions. The larger your small business is – 50 persons lets say you more seriously need to think about your ENTIRE business and what hosted solution, if you even use a hosted solution is best for your business.
Some things to keep in mind:
1. The company providing the hosted solution – will they be around for years; will they be up and running 99% of the time; is your data secure
2. The features – do they offer 80% of the features you need in your business; can they integrated with other online or offline applications if needed?
3. Ease of use – some online providers have engineers create their software. Full of great features but difficult as a tax forms to fill out. Others are simply easy and maybe even quite fun to use.
I hate to harp on this point, but I can’t stress how important it is to get the help of a competent local consultant to help you find a solution that’s best for you. Microsoft’s Small Business Specialists are a great place to start.
I would really appreciate your input and comments.

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Ramon Ray, Editor & Technology Evangelist, Smallbiztechnology.com . Editor and Founder, Smart Hustle Magazine Full bio at http://www.ramonray.com . Check him out on Google Plus, Twitter or Facebook