You’ve heard of cloud services, heard how much time and money you can save by moving key functions of your business to the cloud. You may even be using a cloud service already. But are cloud services safe and can they really help you to function better, be more flexible and save money?

Office space, size of workforce, budget or skill level no longer have to be a limiting factor, as the cloud connects you to a seemingly infinite network of resources, software and storage facilities. Whether you need to train employees, collaborate or check your cashflow, it’s no longer just useful to embrace the cloud – it’s essential.

So how can the cloud help?

1. Productivity software

Your business isn’t going to achieve much unless you have a productive workforce. Job management software can help manage a remote workforce, collaborate and communicate on important data and content from any location, simultaneously.

2. Online storage and backup

Creating a business can require reams of sensitive and important documentation and data. Storing it all on one device or piece of hardware can be problematic, if that device has finite capacity or worse, breaks down. The cloud allows for secure and almost unlimited storage of files and data at very little cost.

File hosting services such as Dropbox, Box, Google Drive and OneDrive offer online storage for little or no cost depending on your needs. Data can then be accessed from any internet enabled device, ensuring it’s always accessible and you’re never going to lose it. You are also able to control who is able to access and edit any shared files.

3. Finance and accounting software

The cloud is not only helpful for sharing and editing documents but also offers accounting software that mitigates the hassles of complicated and tedious financial admin.
Online accountancy software providers like Sage and Xero can help make accounting and payroll processing easier. The latest software is simple and easy to use, so even if accounting isn’t your strong point, you’ll be able to approach it with confidence and have more time to focus on running your business.

These programs are targeted and tailored to small businesses and start-ups and are designed with your needs in mind. You can keep track of your cashflow, the lifeblood of any fledgling business, check tax and expenses and send invoices.

4. Email and phone communications

With a myriad of communication methods now available, for many modern businesses traditional phone and communication systems are either no longer up to the task, or are simply not cost-effective.
There’s no denying the importance of email to any small business, but while in the past setting up an email system would involve the cost of a server and software licenses, the cloud can offer a low-cost alternative with no hardware or software required. Both Microsoft’s Office 365 (which offers Exchange Online) and Google’s Gmail offer far greater scalability and flexibility than server-based solutions. Employees can access email from anywhere on the go and work collaboratively. For business owners there’s the benefits of no server maintenance and lower costs as well as easier disaster recovery.

And it’s the same story when it comes to phone systems. Unlike static phone systems that are tied to your desk, VOIP services allow you to work from multiple locations with one local number and calls routed automatically. This helps you communicate with each other and with your customers.

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