Cloud-based software and services provide big benefits for small businesses. You have access to resources and programs that benefit your business without having to buy and maintain equipment or software. However, every cloud provider is not the same. Use this checklist to ask the right questions of your cloud provider.
Questions to Ask Cloud Providers
Here are a few questions you should ask when considering cloud-based software or services. Does the provider:
- Have a strong privacy/confidentiality policy that protects us & our data?
- Have redundancy through frequent backups or mirrored servers?
- Have adequate firewalls, security policies, and SSL Certificates if payments are involved (e.g. encryption such as at https://www.AlarmPayments.com)?
- Have a track record of many years providing their service?
- Allow for data exports, so you can have your data locally if you need it?
- Provide you some control over ‘who can do what’ with the service, with customizable privileges among administrators, power users, and other user groups?
- Have a short-term service agreement, and an easy ‘out’ if you’re not happy with the service?
The Benefits of the Cloud
Bottom line, cloud services – carefully chosen – should save you money, or add to your top line. 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.’
In the internet era, no company is an island—nor can they afford to be. The internet has created niche services that allow small companies to be very competitive against some of the big dogs. They can offer a broad array of services that makes them appear larger than they really are. And they can streamline their operation and reduce their overhead – which means they can make money at lower volumes.
As you seek out and develop the relationships that help you do this…GO SLOW, but go nonetheless. An alliance is a big decision, so take your time, and make sure you know what you’re getting, and how – specifically – it will help your business. Do your homework, and test the service if you can. 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.
What services does your business have in the cloud?