Business Technology

How to make the most of the cloud

5 min read

28 August 2013

Cloud computing has revolutionized how small businesses operate on a daily basis by providing innovative business tools that enable organisations to work more effectively.

Not only that, many of the Software as a Service (SaaS) applications out there are helping SMEs to lower overheads and expensive operating costs whilst giving them the ability to work more flexibly.

I believe cloud is the great leveler, a platform via which the nation’s small companies can compete with the so-called ‘big boys’ on a more balanced playing field. With all of the innovative advantages of cloud computing, I’m surprised that more SMEs aren’t utilising it. 

For those that are already embracing cloud technology, there are many simple steps you can take to optimize your organisation’s cloud experience.

Firstly, SMEs need to place great emphasis on training their staff in the art of cloud computing and its various programmes to unlock the immediate business benefits. With the correct training, employees and small businesses can optimise the benefits they get from using the technology. Training doesn’t need to cost the earth as many providers will offer it to their customers at a very reasonable rate, with some even offering free trials to companies who want to dip their toe in the water. 

In terms of cost savings, migrating to the cloud can have a massive positive impact on your company’s bottom line. With office space costing so much to rent these days, cloud technology offers businesses the opportunity to adopt a remote working culture, meaning employees can work from home, and there is a range of tools available to help them do this.

If you haven’t already started adopting some of the many cloud applications, I’d suggest introducing your employees to Google Docs and Skype, which have been game changers as they, along with a few other great cloud services, have allowed us to move out of a central office in order to work remotely from home. Through these systems we can share files with great ease and keep up to date with what everyone is working on, with minimum fuss and effort. In addition, there are programmes such as Office 360 and Yammer, which SMEs may want to consider as they delve further into the world of cloud. 

All of these programmes have not only transformed how web-expenses works day to day, but have been vital in creating a business that is flexible and has happier, more productive employees that can achieve a better work / life balance. As well as happier, more motivated staff who take fewer sick days, enjoy a healthy work/life balance and therefore stay at the company longer – there was also an immediate saving of 15 per cent on our company’s bottom line.

With a wide range of cloud-based programmes on the market, I would suggest that SMEs build their cloud platform from a variety of software rather than just sticking to a ‘one size fits all’ business system. For example, our own product, webexpenses, has been developed especially for financial controllers and company employees in order for them to control and process their expenses claims at anytime and from anywhere. By creating something bespoke to a business’ needs, we know that we are now saving them up to 25 per cent on processing costs of their expenses. In fact, this kind of business benefit is something that many providers are replicating in other sectors, from project management to customer relations. With this in mind, it pays to keep your options open on which programmes to use for the different parts of your organisation.

Recent research conducted by the Manchester Business School found that as many as 88 per cent of UK businesses who migrated to the cloud saw boosted profits – this proving that it makes sense to embrace cloud technology and to find ways to optimize your organisation’s experience of it. As cloud technology advances, so will the cost savings and business benefits for UK firms, especially for those at the smaller end of the scale.

Sanjay Parekh is the co-founder and MD of webexpenses.