If you’re not leveraging cloud-based apps in your business already, you should be. Using cloud apps gives you the ability to access enterprise-grade software to boost efficiency and productivity that large organisations used to have to pay a fortune for to implement on their own servers and on local computers.
These days cloud app companies, also known as SAAS companies (SAAS stands for Software as a Service) host everything for you on the cloud. For most small and medium businesses that means never again having to pay for expensive servers, software licences that only work on one computer, or large IT teams to maintain your hardware and keep the software running.
Today, all you need to pay for is a (usually affordable) software subscription and you can gain access to incredible tools that work from anywhere with an internet connection and on any smart device or computer. Businesses who use this tech usually get a leg up on the competition thanks to the productivity and efficiency gains the tech provides.
All that said, not all software is created equal and picking the wrong software to add to your app stack can have the opposite effect over what you intended, so doing your research or getting professional advice should be your first step before settling on and fully implementing an app into your business.
The good news is most SAAS companies offer free trials of some kind to allow you to demo their software. This is usually enough for you to be able to achieve a proof of concept with your use case for that app, but there are a few important things you should consider first:
Features included on the subscription tier of your choice
You should look carefully at the features the company includes in the app at the subscription tier you’re interested in. Clients of ours have had experiences in the past with apps that claimed to do something, only to discover later that the feature they wanted was only available on a higher, more expensive tier. This can sometimes be hidden in the fine print, so always check and never commit to a long-term subscription contract without making sure you’re getting what you think you are.
So, you have a great new app that you can build fancy forms with. It’s shiny and polished and comes with all the bells and whistles. You sign up eagerly and start to build out your new forms. You get to the end and are ready to send the completed form data into an online spreadsheet, only to find you can’t, because your spreadsheet software doesn’t support that integration. You throw your keyboard across the room and rage quit.
It can’t be understated how important comprehensive integration capability is for your cloud-based software. Luckily, more and more cloud apps these days are building integration capabilities that can connect your apps together and get them talking to each other. Before you pick an app, always make sure it handles the integrations you need it to and will be able to serve you as your business grows and you add more apps to your app stack. It goes without saying then that you should be thinking about what apps you will need in the future, what you will need them to do for you, and how they will integrate with each other before you commit time and money to a new app. If you’re keen on a particular app, as a starting point I would encourage you to search for “integrations” on their website to see what integrations are available.
These days integrator apps like Zapier and Automate.io are bridging the gap between more and more apps, allowing you to send data and automate processes from one cloud app to another. This is where the power of cloud apps really starts to show.
Integrators give you the power to complete different parts of a workflow process in multiple apps that all talk to each other seamlessly. For example, you could build automation that sends an email, creates a calendar invite, sends the client a text reminder, creates and assigns a task to a staff member, and adds a database record, all automatically and without any human input. All that is required is an automation trigger of your choice (such as when the client fills in a form!), and the ability of your apps to integrate together directly or through an app like Zapier.
It’s worth your time checking out reviews on any apps you’re thinking of adding to your app stack before you commit. Sites like Capterra and G2 are a great resource to get feedback from other users about how an app stacks up against its competitors. Spend some time reading the one and two-star reviews to get a good idea of common issues users are facing. If you’re worried about something specific, it would be worth Googling the app name followed by “issue” or “not working” to see if anyone else has experienced something similar before and posted it on a forum or elsewhere. Lastly, go to the app’s actual website and see what kind of support the company offers. Do they offer 24-hour chat support? Do they have a number you can call? Is an email address the only form of contact? You get the idea.
Spending a bit of time thinking about your future business needs and researching the right apps will pay dividends and save you lots of time and headaches. Getting the right app stack and automation in place will add tons of value to your business and help you save cost, save time and run a far more efficient and effective organisation. It’s important that before you choose an app you do your research so you don’t end up stuck with an app that limits your business and causes you major headaches down the road.
Float Accounting is a 100% cloud-enabled business. We have built our firm from the ground up on amazing apps like Xero, Airtable and Zapier (and quite a few more), and we help our clients do the same. If you would like to get your business onto the cloud, feel free to reach out to us.The information contained in this publication is for general information purposes only, and does not take into consideration your individual circumstances. You should obtain personalised professional advice before acting upon any information contained herein. To the maximum extent permitted by law, we accept no responsibility for any loss incurred by any person directly or indirectly due to any action taken or refrained from as a consequence of the contents of this publication.