A common example of hardware that can cost more is that inexpensive printer. When you buy an inexpensive printer that has expensive toner/ink cartridges and a low yield, you can pay double or triple per sheet. Also, purchasing a low-end laptop, desktop, tablet can seem like a bargain, but then adding RAM or hard drive can wipe-out any savings. For some electronics, you may not be able to upgrade and will be left having to buy a new device.
For software and applications, sometimes a low or free entry cost means that you have a great deal of customization that cannot be saved when upgrading to a new version or migrating to a new platform. In many cases, it is hard to know that you have chosen an expensive option before making the commitment. Cloud solutions can provide great economy and efficiency for your business if you know where to look and what to get.
Below are a few Cloud solutions that we use that have passed the “save money and add efficiency” test.
Cloud Based Fax Service
We were so frustrated with getting unsolicited faxes that consumed the toner and paper on our fax machine and as an IT company we should always embrace new technology, so we looked for a online fax solution. We needed faxes to be received by multiple emails, a portal to easily send/receive and the ability to keep our fax number. One prerequisite is that you have a good scanner so that you can convert paper documents, we have several.
We chose Nextiva Fax – http://www.nextivafax.com. Our service costs less than $60 per year and they ported our number with no additional charge. It is so easy to send/receive faxes and we saved not only on the fax machine and supplies but were able to get rid of the fax line. Total savings of over $500 a year.
Microsoft Office 365
Especially if you need to upgrade your Exchange Server, Office 365 can save you a bundle. The monthly fee per user starts at $4 for email. You can add all the features of Office 365 for $22 per user per month. Move to Office 365 rather than install a new Exchange Server and you will avoid thousands of dollars. Even if you already use a hosted mail solution you can save money by adding Office applications. Payback can be in two years or less.
We migrated to Office 365 in December to take advantage of a little extra time during the holiday season. It was good timing, because during this winter’s two major ice storms, we easily worked from home using Lync to stay connected.
In addition to the monthly subscription fee, you may have a migration fee per user to move all the users email to Office 365. The current mailbox size is 50G and Microsoft bundles in 1T of space per user on OneDrive.
Savings vary depending upon your installation, but can be from hundreds to thousands of dollars.
Online Cloud Storage
There are many secure, economical Cloud storage solutions. We use Mozy Pro for us and our clients. With Mozy, we have a portal to manage all clients and receive a daily summary of each backup. The Mozy shuttle gives a quick, easy way to store and retrieve data especially for large amounts of data. If bandwidth was an issue in the past, many online storage solutions have greatly improved the upload features to take advantage of available capacity.
For spam compliance, it is best to use an email marketing solution. Using a service to manage your user list, gather statistics and provide easy unsubscription is easily worth many times the monthly fee. We use Constant Contact, but know others that really like Mail Chimp and Emma Mail. Once you start with a service, you will load your templates and images making it very easy to deliver a monthly eNewsletter to your group. Getting everything loaded also makes it less attractive to change services as you have to move or rebuild your customizations. Monthly rates vary by the number of emails in your list. Most have a trial or free version, if you have a small list and don’t need many features.
These are just a few of the many Cloud options available to you. If you have a solution you would like to share or a question, please send to me at email@example.com.