When opening a new office, it seems obvious that you need software. But, do you really? Do you really need to go to Staples and buy a bunch of CD's to install on your machine? How will you keep track of all th0se CD's and license codes? And what if you are not at the office? Having your software on the cloud frequently means that you can access your account and information via any computer, smartphone or tablet, allowing you to be more flexible. Here are our favorite pieces of software in the cloud.
1. Time Tracking & Billing.
Harvest is a cloud based app that allows you to track time worked for customers, time your employees work for you and even send out invoices. It has a widget that allows you to track time on your desktop as well as on your mobile device. You can even track time with other applications such as Twitter, Gmail, and Zendesk. And the biggest bonus? There are add-ons available to sync your data with other applications such as QuickBooks.
2. Customer Relations Management (CRM)
Not every CRM has to be cumbersome and cost a bajillion dollars :). We like HighRise because it is simple to use, integrates with other cloud apps we have (like Harvest) and because its accessible from anywhere.
Whether or not we like it, Uncle Sam requires that we track our expenses and income and be able to tell him how much money we made that year. We've switched to QB Online because it's always current and we can check to see how our business is doing wherever we happen to be. There is also a Payroll add-on if you have employees to track as well.
4. File Storage.
If it's just your internal files and not sensitive legal, medical or other super confidential information, Dropbox is our favorite cloud file storage location. It's accessible via the web and mobile devices. Plus, you get a lot of storage for free.
5. Document Creation.
Finally, where would I be if I didn't recommend Office 365. Office's different licenses are so picky that its too easy to buy a version that you aren't supposed to use (like Home & Student at your office) or buying one that doesn't include the piece of software that you want (like Publisher or Outlook). Subscribing to Office 365 can save you a lot of headache involved in having the wrong licenses. You simply pay per month, per user. If you have to let someone go or hire new people, you don't need to shell out hundreds of dollars just to get them working. It makes budgeting much easier! For more tips for opening a new office, see all the articles in this series:
- Three Things to Think About Before Opening A New Law Office
- Opening a New Office – What Do You REALLY Want?
- Computer Peripherals for Your New Office
- Opening Your New Office – Phone, Internet & Security Systems
- Opening Your New Office – Your Minimum Online Presence – Web & Email Hosting
- Opening A New Office - Postage & Faxes
What software do you use for your office on the cloud?
Jen Steed writes about technology, travel and more. You can find her writing for various online and print publications. To talk to Jen or see all of her articles as they are published, you can follow Jen on Google+.