Big-Time commercial software isn’t just for Fortune 500 companies anymore. For the past few years, a growing number of small companies have been enjoying access to big-time software at tiny prices – sometimes even for free. We’re talking about Cloud Computing. Cloud computing is where you access a program over the internet, using just your browser. The servers and the data are all stored elsewhere, and the small business pays a (usually) small fee to use it. If you’re getting some of your email using Gmail, Yahoo mail, or another webmail client, you’re already using it.
The benefits of using Cloud Software include:
Cost. The big one. Cloud software spreads its expense over a large number of users, and charges the small business a monthly fee for access. Also, there are other “hidden” costs of buying standard software you don’t have to worry about. You don’t need to buy a dedicated computer to run it on. You don’t need to hire a specialist to install and configure it. Some software is even free.
Stability. The company providing the service has full-time personnel making sure that the system is up and running correctly. There are no updates and patches for you to worry about, as that’s handled behind the scenes. You can’t install it incorrectly or erase it, because it isn’t on your computer.
Data protection. Are you regularly backing up your data at the office? Making a copy, and storing it in a disaster-safe location? Or is it all on your laptop? Again, the Cloud company is generally using industry-best-practice methods to insure your data is safe. It’s the livelihood of the software company, as well as yours. If your car or office gets broken into, and your computers are stolen, your data is still safe.
Access anywhere. Well, almost. If you’ve got a web connection, and a computer with a browser, you have access – in an airport, at the coffee shop, at your brother-in-law’s house. Some companies even support smartphones. Heck, Android phones come with Google Apps pre-installed.
Property managers have been hearing about Appfolio and Buildium for a few years now, but there are many other Cloud applications out there for the small business owner. For instance, Gmail is only a small part of Google Apps, which basically replaces Microsoft Office, and it’s free for 10 users or fewer; there are Cloud applications for inspections, accounting and payroll, Customer Relationship Management, and more are premiering all the time.
If you have any questions on software for Property Managers, feel free to contact us.