Rick Meekins is the Managing Partner at Aepiphanni, a Business Consultancy, an Atlanta, GA based small business consultancy that provides Management Consulting, Implementation and Managed Services to business leaders and entrepreneurs seeking to improve or expand operations.
The Sky is Falling!!
One one of my favorite stories is the story of Chicken Little, the little chicken who got everyone in his world excited, thinking that the sky was falling. Well, as it turns out, the sky really is falling; the price of cloud computing is coming down to a level where it is reasonably priced.
I’ve had opportunity to do some research for one of my clients who is preparing to move her business into another phase, wherein she can take advantage of some technologies that will allow her to do more with less, so to speak. This was a great exercise, and of course, one that will allow me to write a great article on once I am finished.
In order to get the best product for the job, one that would match was she is currently doing, while allowing her to embrace some opportunities she is just on the fringe of, I created a matrix using, in this case, Microsoft Excel. In preparation for this, I performed a business analysis, which included a process and systems analysis and a technology review. ( The analysis discovers what she currently has in place, where the review discovery is based on what she has and how she is using it.)
Once completed, I was able to use the data to prepare a matrix – the left column being the “wish list,”, with everything on the list being prioritized – 1 through 3. At the top of the matrix, horizontally were placed different software systems, focused primarily on SAAS systems, or cloud systems as they are beginning to be called.
Now, the purpose of the cloud is to allow business owners to log in from anywhere in the world and get into some web-based system to get information about their companies. What makes these relevant now, is that the price points are getting to the point where they are quite reasonable and there are enough platforms available to meet the needs of most organizations.
While working through the whole process, several things became quite obvious:
- It is difficult to make an apples-to-apples comparison of products
- Not all vendors will help you demystify the differences between the products.
- It is important – extremely important to find a system that will adapt to your business, and not vise-versa.
- Don’t over purchase. Be very clear, ahead of time, what you need, what you want, and what is nice to have. Don’t pay significantly more for bells or whistles that won’t enhance your bottom line.
- Don’t purchase solely on price. If you focus on getting the lowest cost item (there are free ones out there) you may end up paying more in the long run. Consider the cost (opportunity cost!) to switch to something you can manage in-house.
- Remember – complexity=additional training. If you cannot afford to put down $4,000 for set up and training, don’t buy the software. Period
- Learn the product! You’ve invested money into your organization. It is to your benefit (your responsibility!) to get the most out of your investment.
- Make sure there is some level of support that you can work with. If the system is mission critical for your business, don’t settle for email support!
- Consider the fact that although there are systems out there that “do it all,” you’ve got to do your homework. Just like your company, every company has their “sweet spot.”
- Most companies will give you a 30-day trial period on their software. Don’t bother with this until you can narrow down your product selection to no more than three that meet all of your level one criteria, most of your level two, and maybe some of your level three.
Getting your office in the clouds may pay off for your organization, and allow you to cut back on costs, increase productivity and be more in control of daily operations. When looking for a solution provider for your organization, being wary of these items will ensure you are spending responsibly and help you to get the best solution for your company.
At Aepiphanni Business Solutions, we are dedicated to serving the needs of small business owners. We specialize in helping you develop strategies for your organization, and are committed to your success. If you have further questions about creating your strategy or developing your vision, please give me, Rick Meekins, a call at 678-265-3908, or email us at [email protected].