9 common business problems solved by integrated cloud solutions
As technology has evolved and become more sophisticated, businesses have been looking for ways to use it to their advantage. And there’s a lot you can benefit from such as:
- Getting an edge on your competitors
- Speeding up operations
- Reducing your overall costs
- And (most importantly!) increasing your profits
As businesses have become more reliant on technology, naturally the industry has opened up to developers creating off-the-shelf and bespoke systems that are designed to add value to a business.
However, these systems have come at a cost that can make them an unapproachable option for many small and medium businesses. Often, smaller companies have to “make-do” with manual processes and simple excel based systems, but cloud-based options remove the need for laborious and time-consuming data input methods.
There is a range of effective and user-friendly cloud options available for all types and aspects of business. They not only provide all the needed functions and options to integrate, but they come within a price range that often makes them a smart and affordable option for even a one-person business.
How can a modern cloud system benefit my business?
Plan and monitor projects
Once you input your time and price data such as, time costs, material costs, job times and other specifics of your business; you can quickly assess the time scale and cost of a job, speeding up your quoting procedure.
Quoting applications make it possible to satisfy customers with accurate, branded, and customised quotes that can be deployed quickly. The ability to create templates ensures each process is fast – and accurate. Utilise different mark-up percentages to give you control over your final price, and track quotes to see which can be closed and converted to invoices. For confirmed jobs, you can create your schedule, appointing specific team members to work on it, alongside your start and end dates and any key milestones. Track, in real-time, the overall progression of a project and sub-tasks, along with individual member performance to ensure everyone is fulfilling their duties and you’re on schedule for completion.
The cost of running a local system is not limited only to the purchase and set-up of the software.Servers and server maintenance come at an annual cost of thousands of pounds. Cloud systems are not just cheaper, but the cost is usually spread across set monthly payments, so your cash flow is protected. Yet another feature that makes them a great fit for all small and medium businesses.
Real time data flow and Integration (API)
Ease of integration is what’s driving cloud solutions to become so popular across the world. There’s a huge range of different programs and services that can link together, allowing for the seamless flow of real-time data, giving you the power to better analyse and manage your business. This development is important for small and medium businesses as until recently, integrated systems like this came at a cost that reserved them for bigger businesses. The API code that is featured in most cloud systems gives developers (like us!) a chance to provide custom integration with other online and offline systems, so your business can be aligned 100%.
Time and cost tracking
Most professional services charge based on time, so tracking time accurately is the only way to see if a job was profitable or not. There’s a range of cloud products that improve time tracking accuracy and reduce manual data input, freeing up resources. These can then be redistributed to other revenue generating activities!
Employees take control of their own timesheets, and your cloud system will do the rest. Time can be tracked either through entering time worked on a job or by setting up timers or widgets that automatically track time for you.
Time tracking software will show you who has been working on specific jobs and the duration. This allows you to see what a job has cost you in employee time. Integrate and export to your payroll software system and save time on data entry. Avoid undercharging for jobs, as the data gathered from timesheets can update your quotes, and invoices can be created directly from the timesheet data.Help your team stay on track; assign hours to each job and receive notifications when the time set for a task is nearly up. Job costing also allows you to track any expenses assigned to a job, so you don’t get hit by surprise bills. With a Xero integration you can keep accounts updated automatically through the invoice feature and by paying purchase orders for supplies directly through the Xero system.
One major benefit of the cloud that is featured across nearly all applications is remote access. Cloud systems can be accessed from any computer and usually with mobile devices. With an internet connection, you can access your systems anywhere in the world and keep on top of important tasks. Employees or contractors working on projects offsite can still access and update systems when needed.
Set individual access permissions, to work together with clients, staff, and contractors. Restrict access for each user allowing them only to see information pertinent to their role. If you have contractors on your team, they can also log hours against jobs remotely. Add fantastic value to your customer experience by providing them with a client login where they can see an overview of the progress of their job.
Emails between all parties connected to a job are stored and logged by each job, so there’s no more trawling through thousands of emails. The permissions feature allows you to control who sees what, making sure you never release information you don’t intend to.
Customer Relationship Management
Customer relationship management (CRM) systems are one of the key components of any business system – keep your contacts in order with up-to-date information related to them, such as recent communication, past interactions and contact details. CRMs are powerful tools for sales teams as you can track your leads and have insight into how your team is performing. They also provide you with detailed insight on areas such as status of leads, interaction with leads, monthly comparisons, and sales staff analysis to name a few.
Offline CRM systems are a great way to store and interact with clients but the responsibility of updating records is with the user, often leading to inadequately filled out client details. There are a range of cloud CRMs available on the market. Most sector specific cloud systems come with a built in CRM of some kind, usually specified to the industry the cloud system is built for, so that the information fields fit your clients. Cloud CRMs update automatically, reducing data entry and ensuring records are up to date.
The development of cloud business solutions is important for small and medium businesses (SMB). Until recently, integrated business systems came with a five to seven figure price tag, reserving them for big business. Through our experience in the market, we offer SMBs the automation, insight and control that we’ve been provided our bespoke software clients with for years – but at a price that fits comfortably into their own budget.
If your business reaches the point where you have outgrown your cloud services, you can transfer your data with ease. Most cloud programs feature robust data export systems, which allow for the safe removal and transfer of data to be hosted on a new system. There’s no worries about data format clashes or loss of historic data.
Is a cloud based option right for my business?
It’s no surprise that specially designed software, built to benefit the needs of businesses, helps an organisation plan and manage their business operations. This is obvious, and not the point of this blog.
The important take away is that until very recently, small and medium sized businesses had two choices; ineffective make-do systems or buying software that was way out of the budget. The development of cloud-based business solutions means there are now affordable systems that are fit for purpose and crammed full of useful features. These include powerful integration options that improve your data flow and save you time and money.
Want to learn more about how you can transform your business with a cloud-based solution? Get in touch with our team today to discuss your needs.