The rapid expansion of the SaaS (Software as a Service) model (you may also hear it referred to as Online, Remote or Cloud Computing or as a Hosted Solution), whilst at present this terminology will be very new to some of us – it is set to quickly become everyday parlance for us all.
You are about to find (if you haven’t already) yourself receiving a great deal of encouragement to move to the SaaS model for the supply of software – particularly your traditional accounting and payroll software. Software suppliers are investing heavily in the technology (and marketing) of their respective solutions. It could also be a time when you assess if your current software provider is the appropriate one to move forward with in this new era. We are already seeing the emergence of new players in the accounting software market that are exclusively based on an “Online” software product, these vendors have also been forging relationships with the large Telco’s and “bundling” their software within the “Cloud Computing” services offered by the Telco’s.
So what does all of this mean for us as small business owners/operators? Are there real benefits for us in moving in this direction?, or is it just the next thing that is thrust upon us by software companies to secure their future income streams. Whilst the notion of “Buyer Beware” does exist with signing on for these applications, there are certainly a number of advantages that these services offer, such as:
- Your data always being accessible to you, no matter where you are in the world (great for people on the move) – if you have internet access you can access your business information.
- Shared data access (eg your Accountant /Bookkeeper can work on your books at the same time as you, meaning that your data is always current – no more emailing files to your Accountant)
- Always backed up
- No virus checking / updates (handled by the provider)
- Reduced Hardware requirements at your office (you just need internet access)
Some points to carefully consider are;
- Stick with a trusted / well known supplier, one with a good track record of providing the service
- Ensure that you can obtain adequate support for the product
- Check out where is your data stored (In Australia is essential – therefore governed by our privacy laws)
- Who has access to your data (under what arrangements / authorizations)
- What internet speed do you require to successfully operate the service
- What training is required (if any) on the operation of the product
- Can you convert your existing data to the Online version
- Talk to other business owners already using the service (there must be reference sites that you can freely talk to)
- Is the service compatible with other products that link with your accounting software (e.g. electronic banking, credit card payments, email, Point of Sale, Word, Excel etc)
Article Contributed by Clayton Oates from QA Business
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