To Cloud or Not to Cloud - Act Today To Cloud or Not to Cloud - Act Today

To Cloud or Not to Cloud

To Cloud or not to Cloud

Today, cloud-based CRMs are everywhere. With online infrastructure becoming more powerful and sophisticated, many CRM providers now exclusively offer their product on a cloud basis, and work hard to sell this as the only option. Whilst cloud CRMs provide definite advantages for businesses they are not always the best solution.

So should your business be using a cloud-based CRM solution?

Ultimately, the best solution for your organisation will depend on a number of factors such as the nature of your business, your existing processes and resources, the size and location of your team and…your budget. By asking the following questions, you will gain a better understanding of your business needs and which solution would best fulfil those needs.

Are you okay with hosting your critical contact information in the cloud?

Whilst the majority of CRM providers will promise high levels of security, even the best of services can get hacked. Additionally, with cloud CRM, everything you do depends on the speed of your Internet connection. If you lose your connection, you lose access to your data, productivity, and possibly, your customer service.

Another factor to consider with cloud CRM is data security. In Australia and New Zealand, industries such as financial services enforce strict regulations that businesses must adhere to in regard to the off shore hosting of customer data.

As opposed to a cloud environment, an on-premises CRM is a system that is hosted on your own infrastructure. This could be a single laptop for an individual or installed on your own server and shared across the office network. As your data remains in-house, you maintain confidential control of your customer information. Additionally, your data is accessed locally, and therefore, users are not reliant the Internet.

Do you have the resources for in-house or outsourced IT support?

A lot of small/medium businesses don’t have internal IT gurus to help out when things go wrong or technical help is required. Cloud CRMs eliminate the need to have internal IT support as your hosting partner is responsible for maintaining the software, hardware and security of your data.

Cloud CRMs are also generally quick and easy to get started. Your provider does all the work and then simply gives you the login details so you can get started.

With an on-premises CRM, the database administrator is responsible for applying any updates, upgrades or installing new users. The software is required to be installed on the server and each PC before users can access their data.

Do you operate other business software in the cloud?

Software subscription is by far becoming the most popular choice for businesses. If you operate other software/processes in the cloud such as your accounting software, Microsoft Office 365, Dropbox, Google Apps, it could be an advantage to also use a cloud CRM.

How big is your team?

With cloud CRM subscription, it really easy to increase/decrease users. With Act! Subscription, you get the benefits of a subscription service with the added advantage of being able to choose whether you operate in the cloud, on-premises or a combination of the two. As a small business, you might want to start with a couple of cloud users to ‘test the water’ and then expand as the needs demand. With larger corporate businesses, you get the flexibility to change users at any time without having to worry about the traditional software licencing.

Where is your team located?

One of the major benefits of using any cloud software is the ability to access your data from anywhere at any time. This is ideal for teams that work on the road, from home or different office locations. On-premises CRMs are perfect when all users operate from the same office. You get to access your data locally which is generally faster than cloud and it doesn’t matter if you lose your Internet connection…you can still keep working. With an Act! on-premises solution, you can also include synchronisation to a remote location as well as mobile devices to enjoy the best of both options.

What is your budget?

Cloud CRMs have a lower upfront cost as you don’t have the initial capital expense of software licencing and hardware/servers etc. Subscribing to a cloud CRM also creates a smaller ongoing operational expense that offers benefits for budget forecasting and cash flow. Additionally, as you are always on the latest version, you won’t be faced with unexpected software upgrades if you happen to upgrade other software/hardware.

Do you want it all? Anywhere access but not totally reliant on the Internet?

With advantages to both platforms, it may suit your organisation to implement a hybrid deployment option where certain aspects of your system are accessed via the cloud while keeping others within an on-premises environment. For example, a medical supply company hosts their database on their own local network which is accessed by the internal team of office staff. Their sales representatives access the live data using an app on their tablet while out on the road or via a web browser on their home computer. The team operating from another branch accesses the same database in real time using a web browser on their computers. By utilising a combination of cloud and on-premises, they enjoy the benefits of both systems. 

View a diagram of a hybrid scenario
Act! Hybrid Deployment Scenario

Act! is one of the only fully featured CRMs on the market today that offer a cloud and on-premises solution along with a hybrid option. Plus, you’re not tied to any particular solution. You can start with Act! Cloud straight away with little upfront investment and later move to an on-premises solution or vice-versa. Additionally, with our Act! Cloud CRM, we provide you with an offline setup of your database so you will always have access to your data regardless of your Internet connection.

At the end of the day, there are both cloud-based and on-premises systems that offer the latest technology in contact relationship management. If it helps you to build strong relationships with clients, suppliers and other contacts, gather insights and get the big picture on your communications, then it will be a worthwhile investment for your organisation.

To help you decide which CRM deployment option is best for your business, download The Australian Guide to CRM to read more about the pros and cons of cloud versus on-premises CRMs.

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SPEAK TO AN ACT! SPECIALIST in Australia 1300 362 046

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