Why Companies Are Switching to Cloud Business Solutions

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what is cloud computing

Cloud Business Solutions allow business owners to maximize their time and energy in 4 crucial ways.

It is no secret that business owners are turning to the internet for the majority of their administrative needs. Nearly all businesses these days use online services for their POS reporting, scheduling, data analysis, hiring, and file storage. Why? Switching to cloud business solutions allows business owners to maximize their time and energy by offering real time information, increased security, more proficient communication/collaboration, and access to the latest apps made specifically to increase productivity and their bottom line. Below we will discuss some of the advantages of cloud based business solutions in each of these areas.

Real Time Information

The pace of business in the world today requires instant access to real time information. Whether you are signing up for a new product or service, transferring documents, scheduling employees, or monitoring finances, you need to have access to real time information in order to effectively complete these and many other tasks. In order to keep up with your competition, you must have access to real time data when opportunities arise. If you have to go to your office in order to access information while your competitor can simply bring up everything on his/her phone, you have lost out on the opportunity. Find out how we can help you utilize cloud business solutions to access all of your business data and information in real time, instantly, so that you are not left behind while others capitalize immediately.

Increased Security

Antiquated file storage systems are a ticking time bomb in terms of security. What happens if an employee accidentally loads a virus onto your operating system that houses all of your important documents and files? What if you have a break in or fire at your office and everything gets destroyed? What if a disgruntled employee decides to delete critical documents from your office computer or share other employees personal information?

While you as a business owner don’t want to think about these, “what if” scenarios, they happen, often, and you need to protect yourself. Housing your critical and sensitive information in a cloud based system mitigates all of these “what if” scenarios. You can throw away the single computer that houses EVERYTHING you need to run your business, burn those file cabinets full of years of back payroll data, and give your staff members access only to specific information pertinent to their position.

More Proficient Communication/Collaboration

Are you still calling each member of your staff to update them on the latest promotion you have decided to run? Are you sending out memos to multiple staff emails, only to have to wait for a reply to make sure they received the information? Are you having to call multiple employees when schedule changes happen on the fly because someone gets sick or has an emergency? If you are doing any of these things, we’re sorry. Try cloud business solutions to alleviate all of these communication issues. You will be able to engage in real time communication with your staff on memos, business documents, scheduling, financials, reporting, and pretty much anything else you would like to communicate about. You can track changes, see views, set alerts for responses and much more. Stop waiting by your phone all afternoon for a callback. Use that time to find out more and make the switch today!

Access to the Latest Apps

Technology in business today is increasing faster than you as a business owner can learn about it. I am sure you have heard someone say, “there is an app for that” after you have proposed some lightbulb idea? Well, they are right. In order to access and capitalize on the people who have already developed your lightbulb idea for you, the rest of your operations must be up to date enough to integrate with them.

For example, you can’t utilize MailChimp to record and sort your customer demographics if your customers orders are all documented on paper invoices that are thrown in a box in your office. Check out this great article on cloud based app integration by MailChimp to see what we mean. You can’t utilize apps like HomeBase to manage your employees schedules if you don’t let the cloud manage their information. You can’t track and analyze your payroll automatically without utilizing cloud based apps like Gusto.

Cloud Business Solutions

In a nutshell, cloud based business solutions allow you to keep up with the accuracy, pace, and real time data needed in order to keep competitive in today’s business environment. Don’t get left behind. Get in touch with us and make the switch today!

Running a Small Business – What to DIY and What to Outsource

Running a Small Business

As the owner of a small business, you undoubtedly have an endless to-do list. No matter how hard you work or how little you sleep, you cannot possibly devote your best effort to all of the day to day tasks necessary to run your business. There comes a point when you have to decide what to DIY and what to outsource. While some things to outsource may be obvious, such as hiring a payroll company or an accounting firm, other aspects which could be made more efficient by outsourcing may not be so clear. Here are a few not so obvious segments of your running a small business that are worth outsourcing.

SEO and Social Media Marketing

The importance of maintaining a robust and up-to-date online presence for your business is a no-brainer these days. Simply having a website is not enough, yet understanding what types of accounts are right for your business and how to maintain them can be daunting. It seems as if a new app, plugin, social platform, or SEO tool becomes available nearly every day, and just learning about the latest technology can become a job in itself.

If you have a clear outline of your business goals, the task of managing your online presence can easily be handed off to a specialist. A Website and Social Media Specialist will pick out and maintain the online platforms that are most impactful to your target market. He or she will do the research for you, make updates as necessary, and be able to come back with clear data analysis showing the impact on your bottom line.

Information Technology or IT Services

The majority of large business publications like Entrepreneur, Business Insider, and Forbes all have articles suggesting which aspects of your business you should outsource. Though the lists vary in some ways, the one thing they all suggest is to outsource your IT services! This article in Entrepreneur specifically sites IT services as falling under the “Specialized Knowledge” category, one of the three types of tasks best suited for outsourcing.

The reason? You’re a business owner, not a student learning a new specialization. Any task that requires learning a whole new position is a task that takes away from your role of running a small business. Having an in-depth knowledge of the latest ways to manage and process information is not your job. Outsource to an experienced and specialized IT Management Company like Cloud Colorado.

Administrative Tasks

The often tedious and mind numbing tasks of updating spreadsheets or returning phone calls can be exhausting for a business owner. These necessary tasks seem like chores and their simplicity allows them to pushed aside easily as more pressing responsibilities take their place. Any basic task that requires continuous action with the same formula for completion should be delegated to a lower level employee or an outside service. This ensures that these tasks are getting the proper attention necessary and will free you up to tackle more important issues.

Inc.’s article, “10 Tips to Master Your Time as a Business Owner” emphasizes the importance of this point when discussing how to, “Cut out distractions” in Section 4.

All said and done, when running a small business consider this key aspect when deciding what tasks to outsource: “Is it in the best interest of my time and knowledge to do this task myself, or could it be done more efficiently by someone else?”

StreetSmarts Construction Software

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Street Smarts

Are you one of the many companies still running StreetSmarts Construction Software? You’ve likely been humming along for years with StreetSmarts, only to have a problem arise with the software one day, and realize that Maxwell no longer offers tech support. Where do you turn? Sure, transitioning to a new platform is ideal, but when your day-to-day operations rely on StreetSmarts, something needs to get fixed now! If you are finding yourself in this situation we’ve got great news – Cloud Colorado is one of the only IT support companies that still offers support for StreetSmarts. We will even help you transition to a new platform when the time is right.

Who is StreetSmarts For?

StreetSmarts Construction Software is a comprehensive line of business accounting application software designed for construction contractors in the heavy and highway construction space. In its heyday, it was a very popular software used by many big name companies. It helped businesses to better manage materials, equipment, finances, and more with its powerful tools that include:

  • Contract Management
  • Human Resources
  • Document Imaging
  • Financial Management
  • Equipment Inventory
  • Equipment Management
  • Material Billing
  • Project Management
  • ScaleSmarts
  • SmartTraxx
  • Subcontract Management

Many Still Run StreetSmarts Construction Software

Even though Maxwell discontinued StreetSmarts, I don’t have to be the one to tell you that the construction industry can be slow to adapt to change. Many construction companies still run the old software and do their best to get by without updates and tech support from Maxwell. A lot of businesses spent years learning the new system and have been resistant to change over to something new. This strategy works until a major bug arises in the program and businesses have no where to turn for help. For such an important part of your daily operations, having no back-up when things go wrong is not a good feeling.

How to get StreetSmarts IT Support

If you are one of the unfortunate souls to find yourself in the situation described above, we’ve got great news. With ex-StreetSmarts developers on staff, Cloud Colorado is in a unique position to help. Not only can Cloud Colorado fix any issues you might be facing right now with the program, but we can also help you select and transition to a new construction management software when the time is right. Give us a call today to schedule a consultation.

How to Make an IT Disaster Recovery Plan

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How to Make an IT Disaster Recovery Plan

Today it is nearly impossible to do business without modern technology. It has become ingrained in every industry, from how work orders are created, to how projects are managed. With this reliance on technology though comes the danger of jeopardizing your business in the event of an IT disaster. How do you combat this danger? By creating an IT disaster recovery plan.

Create a List of Possible Threats

Before you can begin to plan how to get through an IT disaster, sit down and write out a list of possible threats. Start with very realistic threats and work your way out to less common scenarios. For your IT disaster recovery plan, focus on those scenarios that are a threat to your IT infrastructure. These sort of threats are everything from cyber attacks, to system failures, to even floods. You will likely see some overlap in the types of threats you imagine, but create a long list regardless. It pays to be thorough.

Plan Reactions to These Threats

Now that you’ve got your list of threats to your IT infrastructure, go through each scenario and plan how you and your business would react. What steps would you need to take to stop the threat if possible? How would you recover any lost data? What role would certain employees need to play? How would you continue business as usual with customers, if possible?

As you plan these reactions you can begin to narrow threats down into similar categories with similar solutions. If a fire and a flood both have the same steps to recovery, combine the plans.

Take Necessary Steps to Prepare for These Threats

When running through your plan to react to these IT threats, you have probably noticed a few gaps in your own IT infrastructure. For example, if you have no data backup system in place, you’ve probably realized how out of luck you would be if you lost of your data due to a system failure. Make a plan to take the necessary steps now to make your IT disaster recovery as painless as possible. The more time you put into preparing for disaster, the less it will cost you when the time comes.

Brief Employees

Preparing your IT recovery strategy will involve the cooperation of many moving parts – employees included. You should not only work with key employees in developing your plan, but you also need to brief everyone on what steps to take in each given scenario. The sales team should know how to continue business, customer service should know how to work with affected customers, and of course, IT personnel should know what role they play in the recovery plan.

Run Drills

How will you know your recovery plan works? Run a few drills to look for missing pieces of the plan and to ensure every employee knows their part. Practicing getting through these “disasters” will be both team building and educational.

IT Disaster Recovery Plan

You don’t have to go this road alone! An IT partner can be a lifesaver in the event of a disaster. Work with an IT provider to create back-ups of your business data, set up an off-site server, and put a plan in place for data recovery. Not only are IT providers a great help with day to day functions, but they can set you up to survive anything on your list of possible disasters.

Big Data Can be Helpful for Small Businesses Too

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big data

Innovative ways to gather and analyze big data has been a driving force behind business technology in recent years. The phrase has gained some negative press when companies like Facebook collect and use data in an illegal or shady way, but when done right, knowing how to use big data can be a game changer for businesses. Not just big business either. You may not realize it, but your small business likely already has mountains of data waiting to be aggregated and analyzed.

What is “Big Data?”

The idea of “big data” is gathering a lot of information on your business and it’s target customers. Then, you can use this data to look for trends, find flaws, identify gaps in your services, and so much more to run your business better. For example, one popular way to use big data is with your CRM. If you collected all of the data on the path your leads take before they convert to customers, you could develop a stream-lined process that could greatly increase the likelihood of closing the sale. Maybe you find that customers that are reached out to within a week of an initial sales meeting convert at a much higher rate than those contacted two weeks after, or maybe you find that customers who see a sale person in-person spend 25% more than those contacted over the phone. Looking for and finding trends like this can be a game changer.

Where Do I Get this Data?

The good news is – you likely have already collected a lot of data you can begin to analyze. Your CRM, ordering platform (if that applies), Google Analytics account, email service, etc. already hold a lot of data waiting to be examined.

By diving deeper into the platforms your business already uses, you can pull reports and start identifying trends in no-time. Many of these services likely already have report features built in. If not, reaching out to the provider to request bulk exports of your data is another option. Once you decide on the KPIs you are looking for, use a program like Excel to help you analyze and display this data in a meaningful way.

Identify Problems

With the help of big data, finding flaws in your sales process or on your website just got a whole lot easier. Look for things like common stages where leads tend to drop off and focus on fixing that stage of the process. On your website or in other marketing efforts, look for landing pages or ads that have worse success rates than others and stop sending traffic there until you can improve them. In a perfect world, customers would tell you “oh I liked your ad but then I got to the landing page and format was just unreadable, that’s why I left your website and didn’t convert.” That doesn’t happen though, so use big data to find those problems you likely never even realized existed.

Optimize Work Flows

A stream-lined work flow is essential to lead nurturing. You may not realize it, but even if you don’t have a formal plan in place, you likely already use a work flow. Even just having a normal way you follow up with inquiries from potential customers is a work flow.

Use your CRM of email marketing tool (if you use one) to find those points where leads tend to fall off. Use the data to also find those extra touch points that seem to increase the likelihood of a conversion. Seek out these trends and incorporate them into a standard workflow you can use every time!

Big Data for Small Businesses

You don’t have to be a huge company to be able to gather and leverage data. Understanding the behavior of your potential customers and taking advantage of the trends you see will put you head and shoulders above your competition. Your small business may not always stay small, so paying attention big data now will help you scale and run your business in a much more efficient way.