It may be one of the latest buzzwords in the business world but cloud software has been around long enough to prove its worth.

So what is the cloud and how can it help? In a nutshell, it means using software that runs on a central server which is accessed via the internet rather than having it installed on your own systems. This has a number of advantages in terms of reliability, cost and flexibility. It really can make a difference to efficiency and profitability too.

Computer Savings

Firstly, you can save on hardware costs. If the software is running centrally you don’t need to have your own server and storage and because your desktop systems only need to access the web, you can use lower-powered machines such as net-tops. As well as being cheaper to buy, these small-scale computers also take up less desk space.

With only minimal hardware needed in-house and key systems running elsewhere, you’ll also save on support costs because you don’t need people to look after a server, run backups and so on. Since you’re licensing the software, it also becomes easier to expand without the need to perform a major upgrade.

Doesn’t It Limit My Choice?

You might think that by moving to the cloud you’re restricting yourself to just a handful of choices. This is no truer than if you were buying any off-the-shelf package and it’s possible to customise cloud software to suit your needs as they change.

The software should meet all of your requirements too. For example, the leading web-based business packages encompass a number of areas, including ERP, accounting, order management, inventory control, customer-relationship management and e-commerce. Because all of this is handled in the same place, it’s much easier for senior management to get an overview of the business, with plenty of information on hand to aid decision making.

Also because this software is run and managed centrally, you’ll get the latest updates quickly and without any hassle. You also won’t have to worry about managing back-ups.

If you’re in any doubt then look for a company offering consultants who can help you understand how cloud software can work for your business. These consultants can help ensure that the implementation process goes smoothly too.

Switching to a cloud-based solution is a major step and not one to be undertaken lightly. But there are big advantages too and if it is properly implemented using the cloud can have a positive impact on your business’s bottom line.

Author Bio: Ben Harris is a former business analyst turned freelance writer. Ben writes for several websites, including