“The ability to collaborate—across functional boundaries, time zones or even beyond organizational borders—is becoming an ever more critical determinant of success.” – Forbes Insights: Collaboration in the Cloud
Cloud services have reached a place where they have become an integral part of our day-to-day work lives. Modern entrepreneurs are using cloud services to build and run their small businesses and work with people from different parts of the globe. And why not? It is effective and affordable.
In fact, collaboration based on cloud technology has already proved its ability in bringing your most diverse and distributed teams together, thus bringing an end of faceless employment.
Cloud collaboration allows your team members to work together and collaborate on both on-site and off-site files and documents alike, meaning you can even access, share and edit files and documents outside of the company firewall.
It is fast becoming a permanent feature of the contemporary workplace, thanks to the growing practices of the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and remote employment. Today’s workforce wants to move and communicate seamlessly between various devices and cloud collaboration helps them to do that.
Despite the widespread trend toward cloud collaboration for enhanced productivity, many small businesses are yet to fully understand its benefits. According to a report published by Endurance International Group, many small businesses fail to leverage the significant advances in cloud collaboration technology and are also “unfamiliar with some of the most advantageous online tools.”
The study also found that almost a third of respondents aren’t sure what cloud-based computing means, although they have heard the term. Just 11 percent of respondents said they rely on cloud collaboration while 67 percent of them said they are yet to invest in such technology for their business.
If you too are thinking why invest in the cloud for collaboration, here are top three benefits of cloud collaboration for startups and their teams.
1. It is Cost Effective
Much of the benefits of cloud collaboration are related to its cost-effectiveness. Unlike traditional on-premise software, you don’t have to invest in an expensive infrastructure with cloud-based collaborative tools. They also eliminate the need for costly customization and heavy IT involvement.
Cloud collaboration, is indeed a cost-effective solution that allows for a pay-as-you-go pricing model.
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Under this utility computing billing method you need to pay for procured, instead of actual and computing resources. This means instead to an entire infrastructure you need to pay for just the used services or number of users you need in a given month. You can actually cut office overheads as cloud-based collaboration allows employees to work from other remote locations, making it especially beneficial for startups and small businesses who usually have a limited budget.
You can therefore mitigate project risk and also use collaboration technology to your advantage minus the upfront and extensive capital expense. There is no time-consuming installation, system configuration or maintenance as well. Everything is on the cloud, i.e. web-based. Thus, you really don’t have to bother about updates or server maintenance.
2. It Enhances Your Project Management Process
The key benefit of cloud collaboration is perhaps its ability to connect people to share information and ideas when it’s needed most. Besides, it helps businesses keep all project related documents and information within the same workspace in order to streamline the process, allowing them to manage everything in the cloud.
With these collaborative project management tools, you don’t have to worry about tracking old emails and various versions of documents as these tools retain archived versions of all your documents and update them in real time. Better yet, your team members can even add tasks and comments to each file, giving you a complete audit trail of all projects related interactions. You can even create and manage task lists and team calendars, making your overall project management much simpler and faster.
A 2014 Software Advice study that interviewed thousands of buyers who were shopping for the right project management tool revealed that around 46 percent of small-business buyers were using manual methods like Excel, email and pens and papers. But businesses that have a deployment preference voted for web-based (cloud) solutions over on-site deployment. And around 88 percent of them preferred ‘integrated suites’ that come with two or more applications instead of the stand-alone solutions. In fact, 98 percent of businesses looked for project management as one of the integrated services in their cloud collaboration tools.
The reason behind such preferences is quite obvious as it is rather challenging to projects across various stand-alone platforms. However, the key is to find a collaborative tool that helps you create and manage milestones, goals and deadlines seamlessly to keep your project on track.
3. It is Scalable
Cloud-based technologies are known for their scalability and flexibility. Using a cloud-based collaboration tool you can start small and add on resources as demand increases. For startups and small businesses, it is often the case that the volume of contributions and number of participants increase rapidly and steeply in-between projects. With cloud collaboration, it becomes easier to cater to such growing demands without adding much cost.
Most importantly, cloud collaboration allows you to scale for users, workload and adoption. You can therefore accommodate the growth seamlessly. All you need to do is pay for additional storage and users as you need them, without making any infrastructure investment.
Better yet, you can even manage peaks in demand by automatically allocating capacity and managing team performance when facing data intensive periods. This helps you achieve greater organizational agility.
The nature of cloud collaboration is such that it serves the mobile workforce and companies with multiple locations and remote employees better than on-premise solutions. It allows remote workers to access information seamlessly across devices, helping them to become more productive at work. And since everything is stored in the cloud, you can access them from anywhere and at any time. When you understand the benefits of cloud collaboration, you will also realize that its goal is to provide a natural experience of working together with your team members, even when that’s not the case.
By Sebastien Boyer
Sebastien is the Director of Products at Nutcache, a smart and simple collaborative project management tool for all sizes of businesses with time tracking, invoicing and expenses.