Real-life example of cloud software benefiting a business

Talk of the cloud and online collaboration is still not convincing some business owners, often because the buzz words muddy the waters. A situation happened the other day which brought home how much easier and faster it is to work with the cloud, particularly when you're working as a team.

Sharing a table

A 70 row table in a Word document was emailed over with changes to be made (it was a website in this case, but could easily have been anything - a brochure, press release, project plan, contract etc.). The columns described where change was required, what the situation was now and what it needed to be.

The person who received it added a column for their comments and was just about to email it on to the next person when she realised it would be far better to put it on Google or Dropbox.

Even though there were only three people involved she could see what would happen - within a few days different versions of the table would be doing the rounds, all with comments and updates out of sync. No-one would know who had the master document or which version was the most up-to-date.

Collaborating with Google Docs

Instead she uploaded it as a Google document and added the email addresses of the other two people using the share option. They received an email with a link to the online document. That was it.

Now there will only ever be one version of that document. Everyone can see what everyone's written, straight away. They can add comments to ask clarifying questions or suggest solutions and the comments can be replied to so that everyone sees the conversation.

Saving time and avoiding confusion

There is an immediate time saving benefit that comes with everyone being able to see changes at the same time, instead of waiting for the next version to be emailed. But the time savings go deeper than that.

It's easily possible that someone would have worked from an out-of-date version of the table using the old method. That would mean having discussions to work out what had gone wrong and then correcting it.

The cost of this confusion and resolving it is often not noticed or accounted for, but it is most definitely real. Not to mention the bad feeling and stress when mistakes are made in a team.

Taking it further

This is perhaps the simplest form of online collaboration. Everything that defines cloud computing is there - using a server's computing power, sharing the same information, instant updating, the ability to work from anywhere.

Although it's a simple example, the benefits are very clear. Applying the same principles to more complex applications brings the same benefits on a wider scale. Let's take a quick look at some of the applications that today's businesses are embracing:

Customer management systems (CRM)

Sales progress is always up-to-date with prompts for follow-up actions. Fewer embarrassing mistakes, like different people accidentally contacting the same prospect.

Accounting software 

Your finance team and accountant can update whenever they need to and you can always see your true financial picture.

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)

Systems that link your whole organisation together, driving improvements in the way you work and how you use your people.

Appointments and scheduling time management

Know where everyone is and what they are doing - never tell a prospect "I'm sorry, I'll have to get back to you to confirm that" ever again.

Project management

Complete team working jobs faster, more efficiently and with less stress.

Then there's the cost

This article has only touched on the benefits of being able to work together, saving time and removing confusion. But there's another massive benefit that the cloud delivers, especially for smaller businesses, and that's the low cost.

Most cloud-based software is available for a very low fee per month for each user and most are free to try out. This means small businesses can use big business software straight away, instead of having to wait until they can afford the hundreds, if not thousands of pounds for top-notch software with full capabilities.

That's a huge leg-up that only five years ago small businesses would have loved to have. To explore the cloud options that would help your business, Browse the Cloud today.