For small and medium sized enterprises, moving business applications to the Cloud is
nothing short of a massive game changer. If, as a business, you have great connectivity in
place (and preferably fibre connectivity), harnessing Cloud applications quickly translates
into better business outcomes.
For one, Cloud applications bring ease of use and instantaneous access to critical
information. Businesses are also able to save on crippling hardware and software costs; they
can enjoy flexibility in terms of scalable services only paying for what they use; and they
can leverage greater mobility accessing applications and key data from anywhere, at any
However, deciding on the right Cloud applications and suitable vendors or developers can
prove to be tricky. For one thing, the needs of your business are undoubtedly very different
to that of other businesses.
Here are some practical tips to help you make the right choices:
● Evaluate the software applications currently being used in your business and decide
how similar Cloudbased tools or new services will add value and improve efficiency.
● Determine your requirements. Do you need to monitor workflows,for example? Will a
Cloudbased video conferencing facility cut down on your travelling time?
● Google the type of application you are looking for and try out a couple of the top hits.
● Look at reviews of the application. Has it been rated? Are other companies in the
same field or industry using it already, and are they endorsing it? Look at their
customer list any serious brand has serious customers on their list.
● Speak to them. Great Cloud suppliers will offer demos, will be happy to speak to you
and will be happy to answer any questions.
● Ask for a free trial for 30 days, and if you’re not quite satisfied ask for an extension.
● Play with it and try it out, put aside a few hours to test the features and see if it feels
like the right application for your chosen workflow.
● Accept that the decision making phase will take you, or someone you trust, 10 50
hours. To customise the application for your needs will take a further 50 100 hours.
● If you have an application you like, look at who it integrates with. Good applications
will integrate with other leading applications. If the app you are looking at doesn’t
have any integrations with major brands then it could be left behind… so avoid it.
● Negotiate with the vendor on volume and duration.
● Once you’ve decided on an application, opt for a monthtomonth contract so that you
can easily reverse out of it if the application is not delivering. Once you’ve worked
with it for six months look very seriously at the annualised payment option, which
should save you 16% because the vendor typically bills you for 10 months and gives
● Find out if the vendor or developer has a local presence and if it’s able to offer 24/7
support, demos and implementation. If not, you may not have recourse if the
application is experiencing downtime and you may be putting your business at risk if
you can’t access your data timeously.
● It’s not easy to phone someone and shout at them if you’re dealing with a faceless
organisation. On the other hand you may receive service via Skype and this may be
a bit out of your comfort zone, but on the plus side you may deal with highly qualified
individuals providing you with the support you require.
● An inherent risk to SMMEs are that they have little recourse against a business that
could be based in any legal jurisdiction.