Cloud-based software and services have made enterprise level services accessible to security alarm dealers of all sizes. In the past, companies had the choice of doing without, or setting up their own in-house cloud platform. Building an in-house cloud system was, and continues to be, too expensive for most small and mid-sized dealers. The costs include:
- Buying and configuring a web server
- Buying and configuring routers & firewalls to protect the system
- Buying and installing the desired CRM and other software
- Integrating the cloud system with other key systems (e.g. quotes, accounting)
- Developing redundancy and/or frequent data backups
- Adding system monitoring and real-time alerts
- Hiring an IT firm to support and enhance the cloud platform
- And so on….
Very expensive and time consuming! Deploying a cloud service is much faster, cheaper and can be scaled as your business needs change.
For security alarm dealers one of the major benefits of cloud services is anytime access to your data and programs. The efficiency of that access is multiplied if you choose a cloud service that integrates many key functions into a single ‘soup to nuts’ solution.
Why Security Dealers Should Choose Cloud Services
Bottom line, cloud services – carefully chosen – will both increase revenue AND save you money. In some cases, these services can help you offload certain tasks to specialists who can handle them better, and often cheaper. In other cases, these services can expand and enhance what you’re able to offer your customers – adding revenue, reducing attrition, or making your customer relationships ‘stickier.’
With cloud services, small security dealers can can offer a broad array of services that make them appear larger than they really are. In addition, they can use technology to automate and streamline operations. With reduced overhead, small companies are nimbler and can be profitable at lower volumes.
How to Choose a Cloud Provider
Below is a checklist of things to consider when choosing cloud-based software or services.
Data privacy and confidentiality. Any cloud software of service should have a strong privacy and confidentiality policy that protects you and your data. Who will have access to your data? Is information shared with third parties (this may be necessary in the case of integrations, but sharing terms should be clear)? Is key data encrypted?
Ease of use. Your chosen service(s) should be quick to set up and easy to use after you become a customer. Look for short-term service agreements that have an easy out if you are not happy with the service. You also want to choose a provider with a proven track record of providing good service. It should be easy to get human support if you have problems or questions.
Risk controls. Are there adequate firewalls and security policies? If payments are involved is the service PCI compliant and are there SSL Certificates?
Data security. Are there frequent backups or mirrored servers to protect against data loss? You want to choose a provider that has safeguards in place to protect your company’s data in the event of power outages, or natural disasters.
Customized user controls. The service you choose should allow you to control access to the service. You should be able to customize not only who can access the system but what they can do. You want to be able to set up and customize privileges for administrators, power users and other user groups.
Integrations. Before choosing a cloud service, confirm that they have integrations you desire to make account management easy. Look for a service that improves your efficiency by integrating tasks that are important to your business, such as quotes, billing, accounting and inventory management.
Access to data. In addition to anytime, anywhere access, you want to choose a provider that allows you to export your data so that you can have it locally if needed.
Like other industries, security dealers are adopting cloud-based services because of the huge efficiencies and capabilities they gain. But the decision requires thoughtful research. As you seek out providers take the time to understand exactly what you are getting and how – specifically – it will help your business. Do your due diligence, and if possible test the service. A test will help you to evaluate how it fits into your current workflow as well as ask the right questions before you sign a contract. If it works out, you’ll find that your business is simpler, and you’ll have more time to focus your staff resources on your core competencies…and that’s the best way to ensure your long-term success.
Cornerstone Billing Solutions offers a cloud based platform designed for security alarm dealers. Our solutions help you to work more efficiently in the office and in the field. Contact us if you are having challenges with billing, invoicing, managing inventory or just want to learn more about how we can help.