Choosing Software? The 8 Step Checklist To Finding Cloud-Based Software

Small businesses are constantly bombarded with information on Cloud-based software and services. For many cost-conscious business owners, Cloud providers can be an appealing option for increasing productivity while still staying on budget. It’s a plan that’s working, too. According to two recent studies from Microsoft, 75 percent of small businesses say Cloud-based software and services have allowed them to experience improved service availability. An even more impressive 94 percent cite increased security benefits by using Cloud services.

But moving operations to the Cloud is more involved than simply signing up with a service provider. To ensure effectiveness, before choosing  Cloud-based software or services provider, vice president of product management and marketing James Morehead provides the following checklist.

  • Cost-Effectiveness. Morehead points out that Cloud services can provide significant savings over deploying enterprise-class I.T. software and services locally. He recommends searching for a low monthly rate with reasonable or no up-front fees, from a company that charges pay-as-you-go billing.
  • Scalability. As your business grows, you’ll want a Cloud solution that grows with you. Morehead points out the importance of being able to add or delete seats and/or licenses as necessary.
  • Easy deployment. Most small businesses have limited I.T. resources, making it essential to find a Cloud service that allows for easy deployment.
  • Security. Turning services over to a trusted company doesn’t reduce a business of liability. Be sure you check a provider’s security features to ensure customer data is safe.
  • Maintenance. Both updates and backups should be handled by the Cloud provider, so it’s important to remain aware of the frequency of these updates and backups.
  • Mobile accessibility. One of the best benefits of Cloud services, according to Morehead, is accessibility from anywhere, using any device. To take full advantage of this, add smartphones and tablets to your network and encourage employees to remain connected.
  • Use technology. Morehead recommends AppDirect, an online marketplace that allows businesses to add software and license agreements as needed.
  • Remember tech support. Ideally, a business’s equipment will be fully functional at all times, but on the rare occasions a computer or mobile device malfunctions, businesses need a plan. Implement a tech support service that can help even if your computer crashes at 11 p.m. when a presentation is due the next morning.

Cloud services are ideal for small businesses, who often lack the I.T. resources enjoyed by their much larger competitors. By ensuring your Cloud provider provides a full suite of services, you can remain in control of your data while still enjoying the benefits of having your software and services managed by offsite experts.

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Stephanie Faris

Stephanie is a freelance writer and young adult/middle grade novelist, who worked in information systems for more than a decade. Her first book, 30 Days of No Gossip, will be released by Simon and Schuster in spring 2014. She lives in Nashville with her husband.

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