The future of business software is cloud based.

The key reasons why you need to be on board…
When we talk to people about the Cloud in business it normally stirs a couple of opposing emotions, fear and excitement.

But which one do you feel? Does the thought of moving your key business software and IT infrastructure into the Cloud feel your with dread? Or are you excited about the possibilities it could bring?

The truth is that your probably both scared and excited!

Moving IT and software packages into the Cloud is out of the comfort zone of most business owners and leaders (unless they happen to work in the IT industry!) but the benefits it can bring are well documented, so it is hard not to be excited and optimistic about what it could bring.

So, why aren’t more small and medium sized businesses already in the Cloud? There are some good reason, but those reasons won’t last forever.

Keep Reading >

Start Your Journey To The Cloud

— We’ll Call You! —

If you want to know more about how we can help you move to Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central then simply leave us your details and one of our experts will be in touch shortly.

Request A Call Back Main

The two most common areas of cloud adoption for businesses are actually in the start-up and enterprise spaces, rather than SMBs.

Cloud software provides start-ups with a easy way to implement software solutions because they have very little data to migrate, flexible working methods and absolutely no baggage when it comes to using IT and software solutions which are 100% cloud based.

The enterprise space is a little more complex but the migration to cloud based solutions has been in process for a long time. Businesses that have failed to adapt to a more agile way of working have struggled and, in many cases, no longer exist, whereas fast moving adaptable businesses have been able to thrive so it is seen as a vital part of an IT strategy for any large business.

future of business software is cloud based

The most complex of all markets however is the SMB, or small and medium sized business, space for many different reasons. The key one however is down to the nature of their core business software.

Although it is not true of every SMB, most businesses of this size exist because they fill a niche that cannot be provided by a larger business. This could be due to their unique products, a specialist need they fulfil or the outstanding level of customer service they provide. As a result, their software and IT systems have been moulded to fit around the business’ needs, possibly with bespoke software or custom applications. As a result, moving the Cloud is made much more difficult.

This cannot last forever though. If you are going to continue to thrive as a business in the future you have to be adaptable and agile and without the right cloud IT and software strategy this simply won’t happen.


The Critical Question: Does your business fit your software or does your software fit your business?

I’ve worked in the software and IT industry to know that small and medium businesses are the most demanding type of customers, bar none. I admire the desire and doggedness that business owners have to run their businesses exactly how they want to because they know their industry and their specialisms inside out.

However, I have also seen this approach hold businesses back because they simply can’t find software solutions which meet their needs 100%. As a result they are reliant on bespoke software and multiple software packages just to ensure that the operational side of their business runs smoothly. But this comes at a cost.

The first cost is (actual) cost. Developing and modifying software to meet your exact needs is without doubt the least cost-effective way of purchasing software. Not only that, but it also means that you have unique software which needs supporting and updating, which can typically only be done by the authors of your bespoke software, locking your commitment to a single company. It also means that unless you request them (and pay for them) you won’t be getting any other functionality improvements for the life of your software.

Bespoke software also makes it much more difficult to move to the cloud. Unless it has been designed to be implemented through cloud hosting its likely you’ll need more development and more updates, increasing costs even further.

Making compromises on the functionality of your software may be a difficult thing to get your head around, but it could save you thousands of pounds each and every year. Not only that, your software can be cloud hosted, be eligible for free security updates and benefit from additional functionality updates too.

In my experience, the compromises that businesses need to make aren’t actually compromises at all. They are improvements.

Software companies engineer their solutions to follow best practices, so by changing your processes to match software you could actually save time and increase efficiency. It’s worth considering for sure. If you can overcome this obstacle then the cloud opens up a number of huge opportunities. If you can’t and you believe that individual elements of functionality outweigh everything else then maybe the cloud isn’t for you.

future of business software is cloud based

Are you using your data to report on the past or to anticipate the future?

Are you using your business software to report on how your business performed last month or to help you plan for the next month, the next quarter or maybe the next year? If it’s the former, ask yourself how reporting on the past really helps you and if it’s enough.

Data can be the difference between a good business and a great business, depending on how it is harnessed. The first step of using your data in the most effective way possible is to aim for a single data pool, not multiple database spread across multiple software packages.

As I mentioned in the last section, finding a single software solution to manage your entire business may require some functionality compromise in places, but the benefits are HUGE.

Managing all of your business processes from a single place means that you can analyse data in context for different parts of your business.

For example, does the demand in your sales forecast match your stock levels? Should issues in the customer service team affect your marketing plans? Should payment issues with key customers affect payment terms and service levels?

These are simple examples, but by knowing which areas of your business affect others I am sure you can come up with some of your own scenarios.

Ultimately, you need to decide what you want from your reporting. Are you looking for…

  • A proactive approach to managing your business OR a reactive one?
  • A connected view of your data OR a siloed one?
  • A holistic view of your business OR an incomplete one?
  • A way to improve outcomes OR reports about the past?

The only way to achieve reporting that is accurate, complete and actionable is to bring your data into a single location when it can be properly dissected, analysed and delivered to the people in your business who need it. To do that, cloud solutions provide the answer.


Are you open to the possibilities of the Cloud or is your head in the sand?

Whether you like it or not, the train has left the station when it comes to cloud software and IT solutions. Businesses all over the world are adopting cloud technology to drive their businesses into the future and you now only have two options – get on board quickly or stick with what you’ve got and see how long it lasts.

As you can image, I firmly recommend you get on board.

However, Rome wasn’t built in a day. It can be scary to start your journey to the cloud, but the chances are you’ve already made some progress through software in your business. This could be through a specific software package, with Microsoft 365 or with some of your cyber security software. No matter what it is, it is a step in the right direction.

To reach your goal though, you need a plan. It should be specific in terms of what you believe you can change, measurable in terms of the outcomes, attainable in terms of cost and functionality, relevant to your business and time-bound (ideally within the next 5 years). You may be familiar with this criteria as it is the basis of any good SMART planning approach – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound.

You may wish to start with a product such as Microsoft 365 which simply moves well-known products such as Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint into a cloud hosted environment and has minimal impact on end user experience.

From there you can look at the software packages included in your subscription such as Yammer (an internal social media platform your staff), OneNote (which can replace your physical notebooks), SharePoint (for file storage) and Planner (to manage workloads across the business) all of which are relatively easy to set up and engage staff with.

Ultimately though you should be working to drive existing, business critical, software and IT solutions into the cloud where possible. This means your finance system, CRM package and any other software which is at the centre of your organisation.

By doing this you will bring data into a single location, giving you the information you need to transform products, optimise your operations, engage with customers and empower your people.

A fully cloud connected business: Is it possible?

Yes. Yes, it is.

Although there are different options out there for businesses as a Microsoft Gold Partner and an IT and software provider with over three decades of experience, we are big fans of the suite of IT and software solutions available from Microsoft.

Literally every area of your business is covered from word processing, spreadsheets, workload management, staff collaboration, voice and video calling, data hosting and application hosting right through to ERP to manage your finances, sales, customer service and operations.

future of business software is cloud based

This can all be achieved through four key products:

  • Microsoft 365

Everything you need for day to day working along with tools to engage customers, improve communications and increase staff efficiency.

  • Microsoft Dynamics 365

Dynamics 365 Business Central is Microsoft’s solution for small and medium sized businesses and is a ridiculously powerful and feature rich finance, CRM and operations system.

  • Microsoft Power Platform

The Power Platform links data from Dynamics, Microsoft 365 and any other database to provide a central view of data which can create insightful reports and forecasts as well as automating key tasks.

  • Microsoft Azure

With Microsoft’s hosting platform all of the above solutions available are hosted in the cloud, removing the need for your own IT equipment and provides an unrivalled level of security too.

Every solution will always be tailored to each business in a different way, but you can see from these four key building blocks that its more than just a possibility.


How can you make this happen?

The short answer: you need to conduct a process review.

This review will provide you with all of the ammunition you need to make a decision about your business software and IT.

Unless you’re an IT and software expert yourself, chances are that you’ll either need to rely on someone within your organisation for guidance and support, or will have to put 100% faith in the businesses you choose to talk to for the correct advice.

Whichever the case, here are the 3 steps you need to take to implement business software that drives your manufacturing business forward:


Step 1. Bring in some passion

If you’re looking at implementing new software within your business then you need to look at both the software and the company who will look after you in terms of installation, training and support. And it’s vital to find a business that cares. REALLY cares.

They need to care about you and your business, be passionate about IT and obsessive about providing outstanding support to your users.

Business software and IT solutions are not a one-off purchases. You will be working with these people for years to come. A typical business software solution lasts for around 10-15 years, so don’t make rash decisions about who you are partnering with.

The right partner will listen to your needs and will keep giving you advice on how to streamline and improve your processes in the future.

The software is important too, of course, but systems fail because they are poorly implemented, or users aren’t trained well enough. So, remember to treat your decision on the software and the software partner as the same thing.


Step 2. Review your process

Start by taking stock of your processes from beginning to end. I guarantee you’ll be shocked by the number of spreadsheets and manual processes that exist. What you uncover here will undoubtedly be enough to justify your software investment!

Once you are confident you understand your processes, remain open minded. Changing software to match your processes is rarely a good idea, but changing processes to match the software can have huge benefits. Removing the need for spreadsheets and manual procedures will speed up the entire process and will also provide the accurate reports you need.

Whatever you do, don’t get stuck in a “that’s the way we’ve always done it” mindset.


Step 3. Have a plan

No one likes change, right? Plenty of studies provide evidence of this. People are wary of new software as they feel it could affect their job and make things difficult in the short-term.

With this in mind, it is important to understand the best way of making changes within your business. Working with an experienced IT & Software Consultant will help you plan your software implementation so the transition from existing to new procedures is handled effectively and staff training can be carried out in an efficient and engaging manner.

Not everything has to happen tomorrow and it’s important to understand each and every step you need to take. That’s where a well thought out software strategy comes into play.


Planning for change: your software strategy

Once you’ve decided to look into a cloud based IT and software solution that can reduce your wasted time, eliminate unnecessary costs and drive efficiency, there are 3 factors you need to consider for your cloud strategy:


  1. Your current business needs

Any IT & software strategy needs to start with looking at the situation of your business today. You need to understand the role that software plays within your business at the moment, but most importantly where it fits within your current processes.

This process involves analysing the way you work with software, who uses software, what other systems it affects and, ultimately, the issues you are currently experiencing. This must be completed by someone who understands your business alongside a software expert, ideally someone not working within the business to maintain impartiality.

Don’t worry too much about where these issues are coming from right now (because your new solution will resolve these) but consider the impact of ageing equipment, recent changes in your business requirements, recent changes in the way people work and any problems caused by the support company looking after your current software.

From here, you should visually map out how your processes work, how software interacts with all areas of your business and, most importantly, where the issues lie.


  1. Your future business needs

What are your future business requirements? This could be upcoming major changes such as new acquisitions, new offices or new machinery, or could be as simple as accounting for staff growth.

Again, don’t worry too much about how the changes will occur, just consider the impact of these changes as these will affect the requirements of your software in the future.

Any future plans should be translated into challenges for your current software and processes. These should be represented on your visual process map so that any bottlenecks in your existing processes can be identified.


  1. Technology and total cost of ownership

The ROI of business software and IT solutions rarely stares us in the face. You have to work pretty hard to understand the impact of better information, quicker processes and happier customers, but there’s no doubting it is there.

If we can’t clearly see the ‘R’ then we’ll likely focus on the ‘I’ (or cost) that is needed to implement your solution.

One thing that can massively help with this is embracing Cloud technology. Cloud technology means you won’t need to buy a server to run your software and, therefore, you won’t have the maintenance costs of looking after it either.

Instead, Cloud software is installed on a server in a data centre and you access your software and data through a browser. Nowadays it’s as secure as it comes and the flexibility of being able to access information anywhere, anytime is a dream for business owners and remote workers.

By removing the need for a server and embracing Cloud technology, you’ll also see your initial outlay plummet.


Thank you for reading this article. We hope you found it helpful and thought provoking.

Contact 0800 0433 106