If the thought of new software for running your field service business brings on pain, remorse, indigestion, or any other unpleasant malady, this blog post is for you. Software that is well designed and delivered to you as an Internet application (or cloud based application) should not bring on any of these symptoms of distress. Using a software application to help run your business should not require any real information technology expertise. If you have PCs, Macs, laptops, tablets and/or smartphones connected to the Internet, you have everything you need. Let me explain how cloud applications provide an enormous benefit for small service businesses.
Cheap. First, a cloud application that is delivered to you over the Internet should be the least expensive solution you consider. These applications do not require you to buy equipment called servers that run the application. If you don’t buy the servers, that means that you don’t pay to maintain them either. A true cloud application also does not have “host it for you” charges. Buyer beware! All that means is that your servers running your instance of the application are on a lease plan, and you are still paying for them and paying the maintenance burden (along with a profit margin on top). A true cloud application is cheapest because you share the computing resources with all other users of the application. Just like LinkedIn, Facebook, eBay, Google, Amazon, etc. With this shared approach, your costs are the minimal costs, which is the way you want it.
Safe. Some folks read the above paragraph on costs and proclaim “I don’t want my data on a computer that is shared with anyone else because that is not safe.” Poppycock. I can’t recall ever logging into Gmail and seeing someone else’s mail. Can you? I don’t think I have ever shopped at Amazon and seen someone else’s merchandise in my shopping cart. How about you? I’ve never had ADP send me someone else’s deposit on payday. What about you? I don’t ever recall logging into Salesforce.com and seeing someone else’s sales leads. Do you? I didn’t think so. A modern and professionally managed implementation of an application that is shared among all of the users of the application is the safest way for small businesses to get software capability. The infrastructure and the professionals that manage it are going to be better at technology management than the ones you would hire to do the same. If someone really wants your data, it will be much easier for them to get it from computers you are managing than from the ones that my staff and the staff at Amazon Web Services (where we run our application) manage. I promise, it is safer.
Easy. If you don’t have to set up and manage the computers that run your application, you are already far down the road toward Easy Street. You know that you have actually arrived on Easy Street when it is only a few minutes between the time you sign up for the application and when you are actually using it productively. If you have lots of users and lots of historical data, it can take a few hours to get up and going, but it should not be more than that. If it is, you have a poorly designed application. If your application provider does not live on Easy Street, you should get a different one with a new address.
Fast. All applications should run fast enough that the user is not annoyed by waiting, but in this case I am talking about fast as in newer, better features. True cloud applications deliver new features to you weekly, or monthly at least, without you having to do anything. No upgrades required, just better software delivered for your enjoyment. You may think that all of the reasons listed above are enough to insist on a cloud application, but I actually think this one is the most important. If you pick wisely now and choose the most thoughtful application provider in your space, you will benefit from that choice over and over again without the pain of slow (or no) progress in the future.
So what are you going to do now? The more you move your business to the cloud the more you will enjoy its benefits and eliminate the pain associated with information technology management. Unlike building muscle or character where the idiom “no pain, no gain” applies, building a portfolio of cloud applications for running your small service business should just be “no pain, no pain.”