Rayhan Aleem is the founder of Alpha Pro Partners, an accounting firm based in the United Arab Emirates focused on the technology sector.
Cloud-based solutions are one of the most important innovations for modern businesses. Its use has increased significantly thanks to a number of benefits that include improved efficiency and increased revenue, not to mention its role in enabling companies to operate effectively during periods of remote work. That said, having too many technology-based productivity tools can create the opposite effect, costing you money and complicating systems and processes.
If you or your staff are wasting time constantly changing tools, here are three steps to streamline your cloud infrastructure and prevent application fatigue.
Step 1: Take the time to choose the right software
It’s worth investing in the right apps for your business from the beginning, rather than trying to fix a problem by adding a different solution later. There are free trial periods available with most software and it doesn’t take too long to see if it has the capabilities you need, so give it a try before you buy. Alas, try to think ahead, as you are likely to stay with the product for at least a few years. While it’s easy to trust the most established players, the big one isn’t always the best. Many software unicorns only started a few years ago and quickly became the best in the class. One of them is the sales CRM Pipedrive, which was founded in 2010 and achieved unicorn status a decade later. When researching new software, evaluate customer service, user interface (UI), and user experience (UX). If they are excellent in these areas and are easy to navigate, they are likely to be a good choice. You can also use third-party review sites for cloud applications, such as Capterra.com, to find standalone reviews; the higher the score and number of reviews, the more likely you are to succeed.
Step 2: Strategy and understanding of capabilities
Cloud computing resources should be based on an IT roadmap that everyone in the company follows. Ask staff for feedback on any issues or frustrations they face and decide who is responsible for research and purchasing decisions, as well as who will monitor and evaluate their efficiency. Most companies don’t even know the extent of what their software can do, meaning you probably have more than one doing the same. Start with an audit of the applications that are currently in use, and check for overlays, and then take steps to streamline them. For example, you may have a job management system that is also a customer relationship management (CRM) tool. It’s ideal to have an internal “cloud champion” as your primary point of contact who understands the process and can take applications to the cloud fairly quickly. If that’s not possible, it’s worth finding the right external cloud partners who can help you maximize the value of your tools.
Step 3: Choose open APIs
Most modern cloud applications now have open application programming interfaces (APIs) to hundreds of other programs, allowing you to integrate and connect different platforms together without having to move them manually. For example, Xero Small Business Accounting Software has over 800 different types of software that connect to and expand its enterprise resource planning capabilities without being a real enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. As such, it is a much more cost-effective alternative. If you have software that cannot communicate directly, you can also use connectors in the cloud such as Zapier to connect processes. If you want to add a new query from your website to your CRM, a plugin like Zapier can get it.
Step 4: Re-evaluate the stack of applications
Companies change over time and what was appropriate two years ago may need an upgrade. With the creation of new technology companies every day, there may be a cheaper solution or application that can do the job of two existing ones. Changing cloud systems can be a daunting task, but if in the long run you improve productivity and revenue from the top line, it’s worth making that investment. Also note that the process of migrating data from one system to another begins to be easier with the help of APIs. The right migration partner can help you with this headache and the change may not be as painful as you think.