Cloud-based applications for SMEs I Cloud myth-busting

South African SMEs are enthusiastically embracing cloud-based applications such as Dropbox and Google Apps. Though the market is becoming more sophisticated, there are still a few myths that prevail about the risks and benefits of cloud computing, says Ivan Epstein, CEO of Sage Australia, Asia, Middle East and Africa. “The cloud promises to make the use of business IT resources online and on-demand as easy as services such as Gmail and Dropbox,” says Epstein. “It’s about having a flexible new way of buying technology applications and services you need. Many of the fears that surround the cloud are now out of date.”

South African SMEs are enthusiastically embracing cloud-based applications such as Dropbox and Google Apps. Though the market is becoming more sophisticated, there are still a few myths that prevail about the risks and benefits of cloud computing, says Ivan Epstein, CEO of Sage Australia, Asia, Middle East and Africa.

“The cloud promises to make the use of business IT resources online and on-demand as easy as services such as Gmail and Dropbox,” says Epstein. “It’s about having a flexible new way of buying technology applications and services you need. Many of the fears that surround the cloud are now out of date.”

Myth 1: It’s not secure

Many SMEs worry that their data will not be safe with a cloud software provider. But provided you choose a credible vendor, it will host and manage your application and data in a top-tier data centre underpinned by world-class technology, says Epstein. Such a facility will feature the latest and best information and physical security, he says.  “These facilities will be as secure as those where your bank keeps your confidential financial information locked up. No SME can afford to spend as much on security as a good cloud service provider does.”

Myth 2: An ordinary mobile broadband or ADSL line isn’t good enough

Many SMEs are already using cloud services on standard ADSL and mobile broadband connections with no problem. The user experience is more than acceptable for most services including accounting and payroll software. “You don’t need a fast, uncapped fibre line to use cloud apps,” he says. “Your ADSL line will do just fine and you won’t burn through huge amounts of bandwidth.”

Myth 3: You have to commit fully to the cloud or stay off it

Many SMEs think that taking advantage of services in the cloud means throwing out their existing applications and committing completely to a cloud provider. That’s not true, says Epstein, since you can opt for “connected services” that allow you to move over to the cloud at your own pace. “Connected services offer hooks into the cloud so you can benefit from working online while still using a PC software package,” says Epstein. “For example, a desktop accounting solution might allow you to access a range of digital transaction and payment solutions from within the package’s interface. We believe the future is in the cloud, but not everyone is ready to move completely over to using their software online.”

Myth 4: It’s just about cost-savings

The cloud can help you to save money on buying servers and installing software. It can also allow you to pay for your software per month rather than committing a big some upfront to buy a software package. Those are important benefits, but they are not as significant as the way the cloud gives your business more flexibility, he adds.

“The cloud turns IT consumed into a utility, transforming fixed costs into variable costs,” Epstein says. “It allows you to buy applications such as accounting not as a software suite but as a collection of services. You can buy what you need and increase your use of these services with a few clicks when you need to.” And the cloud makes information and business services available everywhere your employees have Internet access, making your workforce faster, more responsive and better informed.

Gathering clouds

“Judging from the demand for our online solutions, the cloud is gathering traction in South Africa’s SME sector. As the next step in Sage South Africa’s continued investment in the cloud, we have consolidated our Sage Pastel My Business Online, Sage Pastel My Payroll Online and Sage VIP Liquid offerings under the Sage One brand name.” Sage has built on this solid South African foundation, and applied global insights gleaned from the Sage One businesses in Europe and the US, to bring Sage One to South Africa, he adds.

Four ways the cloud is transforming HR and payroll management

Cloud computing and mobility bring a range of powerful benefits for HR and payroll managers, enabling them to become more efficient while offering their employees and the business a better quality of service. With software solutions like Sage One Payroll, there are no annual licence fees or upfront costs, meaning that you don’t need to dip into your capital to afford a powerful, modern payroll solution.

Cloud computing and mobility bring a range of powerful benefits for HR and payroll managers, enabling them to become more efficient while offering their employees and the business a better quality of service.

With software solutions like Sage One Payroll, there are no annual licence fees or upfront costs, meaning that you don’t need to dip into your capital to afford a powerful, modern payroll solution.

Here are four ways that mobile solutions and the cloud are making a difference in payroll & HR environments.

1. Employee self-service for all

Employees today live on their smartphones, so it makes sense to deliver company information and services to them on their handsets. You should select an HR package that includes employee self-service functionality, enabling your employees to apply for leave, file business travel expenses, and update their personal information from their computers, smartphones or tablets. This is convenient for the employee, and also saves managers and the HR department a great deal of paperwork.

Another useful feature is a mobile app that allows your employees to access payslips and leave balances from a secure online environment. Each employee will have access to a secure online profile where they can access copies of historic payslips in PDF format as well as detailed information about their leave records.

2. E-learning everywhere

Electronic learning has gained massive traction in workplaces around the world, though some South African companies have been slower to embrace its potential. Today’s cloud and mobile e-learning solutions give companies even more flexibility to deliver training and education to their workforces, wherever they are.

3. Service mash-ups

Cloud-based payroll and HR solutions can easily integrate with a range of online services that extend their functionality – for example, bank account validations and ID verifications. This allows you to easily ensure that the ID number and banking details you have for an employee are valid and correct from within the payroll application. These services are especially valuable when making use of electronic services to pay salaries, ensuring that you are paying salaries into the correct accounts and to the correct recipients.

4. Value-added apps for employees

Once you’re interacting online and on mobile devices with your employees through employee self-service, you can build a range of value-added services into your apps and internal websites. For example, a salary tax calculator could allow employees to perform comparative calculations using this year’s and last year’s income tax rates. This will allow employees to answer many questions for themselves instead of asking your payroll & HR departments for help. It can also improve employee satisfaction.

The low down on data security in South Africa

When it comes to the matter of data security, it’s something that should be very high on the list of priorities for businesses that handle sensitive and personal information on a daily basis. This is especially true for companies that use the Cloud as a means of storing such information, which in this technological age, is almost every one – with Sage One being no exception.

When it comes to the matter of data security, it’s something that should be very high on the list of priorities for businesses that handle sensitive and personal information on a daily basis. This is especially true for companies that use the Cloud as a means of storing such information, which in this technological age, is almost every one – with Sage One being no exception. At Sage One, we’re committed to keeping our customers’ data safe and secure so that business managers can run their businesses smoothly using online software that they know is protected every step of the way. Read on to find out all you need to know about data security in South Africa.

First, let’s make sure that everyone understands what the Cloud is

“The Cloud” is essentially another way of saying the Internet. The software offered by Sage One operates within the Cloud – so ultimately, it’s considered “cloud software”. Because all data relating to the software is stored within the Cloud, upgrades take place automatically so that you’re always working on the latest version, and the best part about it is that you’re able to access the information you need at any time, wherever you are. Another prime example of cloud software is Facebook.

But how does this affect security?

Many people are weary of sharing important information online and this is a valid fear. Identify theft and unwanted contact from marketers are areas of concern for many South Africans, but there are ways to combat these and ensure that all data is safeguarded.

So, what security measures has Sage One adopted to keep your data secure?

When it comes to accessing your Sage One software, a unique password and username is required. Only invited persons are given access, using their own passwords and usernames. Remaining inactive for a prolonged period of time once logged in, results in the system automatically logging you out.

All your business’s Sage One data is stored in a managed hosted environment at a secure location. Access to this specialised data centre is restricted, with only authorised personnel being able to enter. Around-the-clock armed security employees together with CCTV ensure your data always has a watchful eye over it.

Furthermore, an industry-standard firewall is in place which makes sure that only intended traffic reaches the Sage One service. Injection attempts, service attacks and intrusions are avoided with the help of regularly produced logs and alerts that are reviewed frequently. Close attention is paid to all systems as well so that new vulnerabilities and possible weaknesses can be identified quickly and resolved even faster.

Lastly, all information is encrypted using a security certificate obtained from a reputable provider, allowing it to remain safe and protected while in the Cloud.

POPI Act

The Protection of Personal Information Act was passed as a means of keeping data secure and protecting the personal information of South Africans. Organisations need to take the necessary steps in accordance with this law to ensure that they comply with it and safeguard all the data with which they’ve been entrusted. Sage One does its part, now so should you.

Data security is highly valued in South Africa and when it comes to a business being dedicated to upholding it, Sage One is no exception. Rest assured that when working with any of the Sage One online products, your information remains safe and secure.

 

Featured image: http://www.buydata.me

Here’s what you should be doing differently when it comes to your small business

Sometimes in business, entrepreneurs just get it right. Others will look on in awe and wonder what the secret to their success is and what they could be doing differently in order to become as successful. Establishing, running and growing your own business is one of the hardest yet most rewarding things you can choose to do, and it requires consistent patience, persistence and dedication. 

Sometimes in business, entrepreneurs just get it right. Others will look on in awe and wonder what the secret to their success is and what they could be doing differently in order to become as successful. Establishing, running and growing your own business is one of the hardest yet most rewarding things you can choose to do, and it requires consistent patience, persistence and dedication. As a small business owner you need to be constantly re-evaluating your business to ensure it’s performing at its absolute best. Here’s our list of a few things you should consider doing differently, if you aren’t doing them already.

Tweak and diversify

In order to have a successful business, people have to buy what you’re selling, be it a product or a service. If you noticed that sales have taken a dip, it may be time to make some changes to the things on offer. This doesn’t necessarily have to mean complete replacement, but perhaps only a few tweaks here and there. For example, you may consider creating new packages for clients that consist of a handful of your products, thereby adding value. You may find this better speaks to the needs of customers, something that should be constantly being met by your business. Diversification can also be an effective route to go and involves branching out a little. If you own a fashion business, you could think about expanding into garment care by offering a range of products that can be used to maintain the items of clothing you offer. You can end up not only appealing to already existing customers, but to an entirely new consumer market as well.

Don’t just market your product – sell your story

The key here is context. Consumers will be far more inclined to buy your product if they understand how it can help solve their problems. So how do you as the business owner go about achieving this? It’s simple: you provide the story behind the business. People tend to connect with stories, especially when it comes to those linked to specific products. The story will automatically inject meaning and emotion into the purchase process, but most importantly, telling a story brings a human element to the often clinical business world. By putting a face to the brand and sharing the story behind it, consumers are bound to feel more connected to it, and connection can not only lead to more sales, but to brand loyalty as well.

Embrace technology

Whether you like it not, the reality is that the role technology is playing in the success of small business is becoming more and more important every day. You can’t expect to grow in a technologically saturated world by turning your back on it. We don’t mean becoming tech-savvy overnight and investing in every possible element of technology pertaining to your particular business, but rather embracing it slowly but surely over a period of time. A good place to start is with social media– when used correctly, it can completely transform your marketing strategy…and for the better. Another thing to consider is the power of the Cloud. Software that operates within the Cloud can help to change how you run and manage your business dramatically. Sage One Software provides you with a fast, efficient and simple way of dealing with the financial side of your business, such as payroll and accounts. Don’t shy away from technology – it could be just the ingredient you need to boost your business.

Don’t compromise your vision

Among other things, flexibility and adaptability are two important aspects to bear in mind when it comes to running your own business. There’s no doubt that you will experience bumps in the road that require you to adapt and make changes fast, but in doing that, it’s important that you don’t lose sight of your purpose and core values. This can be easier said than done, but at the end of the day, if you compromise your vision and the principles you hold dear, you may end up regretting it. By all means make adjustments at times, but that shouldn’t mean having to sacrifice your vision completely.

Part of running your own business is learning as you go. You will stumble at times but the important thing is to get up and keep moving forward. Observe the businesses around you – you can only learn from them.

 

Featured image: http://michaelhyatt.com

Sage One Accounting Software: How it can help you run your business smoothly

In a previous post we took a look at the reasons why your small business needs Sage One Payroll software, so in this post we’ll be showing you how Sage One accounting software can help you run your business more smoothly. Here at Sage One, we value the hard work, effort and commitment that goes into getting a new business off the ground and operating smoothly and efficiently.

In a previous post we took a look at the reasons why your small business needs Sage One Payroll software, so in this post we’ll be showing you how Sage One accounting software can help you run your business more smoothly. Here at Sage One, we value the hard work, effort and commitment that goes into getting a new business off the ground and operating smoothly and efficiently. We want to see entrepreneurs and small business owners succeed, and that’s why we’re dedicated to doing what we can to get you there. The online accounting software Sage One offers is designed to help you manage the financial side of your business in the simplest and fastest way possible – something that will hopefully take you and your business a step closer to becoming a serious player in your particular industry.

Saves you time

You’ve heard it before, but it’s true: time is money. In business you want to be able to use your time wisely and find ways to avoid wasting it unnecessarily. One way of achieving this is by incorporating simplified processes into the everyday running of the business – the easier things are, the faster they’ll be completed which will save you time. Sage One’s accounting software is simple to use and a lack of confusing jargon makes it a breeze to deal with on a daily basis. It has an “intuitive interface”, making it easy for you to navigate your way around the system and find what you’re looking for fast.

Hassle-free

Fewer hassles with your software and operating systems usually results in smoother running of things all round. There are numerous “hassle-free” features of Sage One software, such as:

  • Upgrades: Because you’re working in the Cloud, your work is automatically “updated” instantly whenever you make changes which ensures that you’re always working on the latest version.
  • Installation: Again, using the Cloud means there’s nothing to install.
  • Accessibility: Provided you have Internet access, you’re able to access the system 24/7 from where ever you are. What could be more convenient?
  • Security: The Cloud stores all your data safely and securely, so you never have to worry about it landing in the wrong hands.

Full over-view of the business

Having a bird’s-eye view of your whole business is best when it comes to running things. When you can see every aspect of the financial side of your business, you’re able to manage it in the most effective way possible. With Sage One’s carefully designed Dashboard, you can keep your eye on everything, from who are your best customers, to your sales history and which are your top-selling products. Having a full-overview of the business will help you spot problem areas faster, make changes where necessary and overall, have a better idea of your business’s financial landscape.

The Drill Down feature is an added bonus that allows you to look deeper into the information presented to you by the interface. Having immediate access to the details behind the information you receive will provide you with a better understanding of why things are the way they are and this will hopefully lead to faster problem-solving and improved relationships with customers.

One-stop shop

Sage One software provides the perfect platform for business owners to deal with many things at once. From managing customers, suppliers and inventory, to creating customised invoices using the Sage One Custom Layout Designer, producing reports and managing the business’s bank accounts, Sage One’s online accounting is truly a one-stop shop. Furthermore, your accountant can be granted access to the system, allowing him to keep an eye on the financials from where ever he is.

Sage One software is everything rolled into one, making it the ideal financial management tool for any small business. To find out more about this fantastic software and its features, take a quick tour on the Sage One website.

 

Featured image: http://blogs.voices.com

E-commerce websites: The essential tools you need to get your online business up and running

Starting your own business requires a lot of planning, research and investigation. There are many things you need to consider and arrange before launch, such as devising a clear business plan, refining your product and registering the business. When it comes to starting your own online business, most of the same steps apply, yet added to those is also a string of other boxes to tick.

Starting your own business requires a lot of planning, research and investigation. There are many things you need to consider and arrange before launch, such as devising a clear business plan, refining your product and registering the business. When it comes to starting your own online business, most of the same steps apply, yet added to those is also a string of other boxes to tick. Because the Internet is so vast, it offers a variety of different opportunities for aspiring online business entrepreneurs, but it also brings with it a whole new space to navigate through. Read on to find out the essential tools you’ll need to get your e-commerce site up and running.

Web host

First thing’s first: arranging a suitable web host. Since it’s the web host that will form the technical backbone of your site, it’s important that it’s of a high standard. Whilst there are many free web hosting options available out there, you’d be better off looking into enlisting the services of a professional web hosting company because in this way, you secure a dedicated space in which your venture can exist through a virtual private server (VPS). Going this route almost always ensures you’ll get a high quality, sleek-looking site and you’ll avoid having to share any resources, as is often the case when using a free option.

Helpful hint: Before even looking for a web host, be sure to secure a domain name for your business. It should be concise – make it something easy to remember and fast to type (for example, avoid using hyphens).

Content management platform

Once you have your chosen web host, you’ll want to consider where the content you create will live. Having a platform that is easy to use and versatile is key, so you may want to go with something like Sage Online Tools. From the market leaders in business management software, Sage Pastel comes a platform that allows you to build an entire site,  Also, because it’s fully customisable, business owners are able to mould their site into whatever they want. However, if you have specific needs or a particular vision in mind, then you may want to consider hiring a professional developer who you can work alongside as they build the site for you.

Simple check-out system

Especially if as a small business, your main source of revenue comes from selling products online, a simple, quick check-out system is a must. Part of creating the best possible user experience (UX) for customers is ensuring that once they’ve found what they were looking for and added items to their shopping cart, they can easily pay and then leave the site. The last thing you want as a business is to make it complicated for your customers to get what they need. Offering a wide variety of payment options will also help make the check-out process as smooth as possible.

Social media presence

Since your business lives online, it only makes sense to utilise it as much as possible. As it is, most successful businesses make sure they use social media to their full potential as it is one of the most effective marketing tools. Establishing a solid social media presence is an important part of your online business model, as it will allow you to connect and interact with current and potential customers or clients, thereby marketing your business and ensuring your customer service is of a high standard. It can be used to build your community, as well as a social listening tool that can help you make changes to your online business so as to deliver maximum customer satisfaction.

Newsletter and mailing list

Consider putting together a mailing list and weekly/monthly/quarterly newsletter for those on the list. You can get visitors to sign up on your site to receive the newsletter and in so doing, provide you with an excellent opportunity to form a strong connection with your customer base. Having a mailing list will allow you to contact customers en masse and inform them of any deals or promotions, whilst also sharing any information from which you feel they may benefit.

Once your online business gets off the ground, why not consider another online tool such as Sage One to assist with all your financial business needs? Easily one of the most efficient systems available, having Sage One on your side will help you take your online business to greater heights.

 

Featured image: http://cdn.business2community.com