A truly web based business?
A contractor was working in our office recently and asked to borrow a pen and paper. Quite to our own surprise we struggled to find either! Some may comment that this is not very professional, but the reality is that our use of IT and Cloud solutions means more often than not pen and paper are not the business tools we reach for.
Whilst we knew that we had wanted Recenseo to always be a company with a reduced paper footprint, this situation highlighted how truly cloud based we were. So, how does it all work and is it practical?
Firstly, it is worth pointing out that we spend much of our time on site with our clients. Our push towards Cloud or centralised solutions was therefore necessary to ensure we could not only keep in touch with each other, but also work on the move.
Secondly we are a small company – without the trappings of a larger business with numerous employees, offices or systems. However, our employees and wider network of consultants do need to access different parts of our IT and business at various times.
Here’s a snapshot of how it works:
Accounting – our accounting and CRM needs are provided by a cloud based, subscription solution. It is a ‘multi tenant’ offering which means there are hundreds of businesses using the same version of the software, so we all benefit from the latest upgrades at the same time. This allows us to track opportunities, raise invoices or chase our debtors wherever we are.
Document management – we are sent and still create quite a bit of paperwork which would normally require a filing cabinet or similar to store it all. Instead we use a web based document management solution which not only scans and stores inbound documents but also allows us to drag and drop files to it from our desktops/laptops. The software has workflow to manage the approval process around purchases or contract management and also allows us to annotate or redact the documents for onward transmission. All documents are securely stored and have to be checked in/out by a user to build an audit history.
Server – we use a hosted server solution for storage of any critical business applications which need to be accessed by any member of the team and therefore cannot be installed on local machines.
Email – all mail goes through a hosted Exchange server. Our local email clients on phones, laptops and iPads all sync with the main server meaning we have a single view of all our mail folders and can easily view shared calendars for planning. Having a centralised mail server with web access also allows us to provide email accounts to our sub-contractors to maintain our company name/brand in front of clients.
Time keeping – is provided by a web based service which also provides local clients/apps on our devices so we can track time wherever we are. Once again this solution allows our subcontractors to keep us informed of their time during the month.
Meeting notes – for many this is probably the primary reason for carrying a pen and paper and it used to be exactly the same for us. More often than not we would take myriad of notes at meetings and then need to type these up into project reports, action plans or marketing copy before disposing of the paper. So in 2011 we decided to cut out the middle man and introduced iPads with the Quick Office App loaded so we capture all our notes directly in the format in which they are needed.
As a result, Recenseo is a truly paperless, cloud based business. Of course, you should usually be able to find a pen or paper in our offices (and sometimes you can’t beat it!) but using ourselves as an example proves that you can run a very lean operation if you embrace technology and use the right solutions on the market. Although we have not yet quantified our use of the Cloud in terms of time or cost benefit, we know that as an evolving business we have enjoyed huge benefits from the introduction of each and every one of our IT solutions.
If you would like the Cloud to do more for you and your business, please get in touch to discuss your IT strategy.
This entry was posted on Tuesday, May 29th, 2012 at 3:10 pm and is filed under Business Performance, Cloud Computing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.