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  • Writer's pictureEric Bagshaw

Cloud - the downsides...

This post look’s at solving the 'Clouds' problems, or at least reducing their impact...!

On premises solutions typically have admin experts for each major component, plus a dedicated team responsible for installing and supporting desktop applications.

With SaaS solutions biggest pitfall is the sheer width, depth and power of the solutions. These are managible by skilled and 24/7 IT teams, but often overwhelming for the small firm and especially for the freelance/self-employed. Unsurprisingly most SMEs don’t have an IT department and unless the firm specializes in IT itself are unlikely to be experts. The lack in-house expertise and available support is the biggest downside for most small firms.

Closing the IT support gap

Just as the SaaS solution is PAYG so too can be complementary IT support. An IT Partner can prove invaluable during the initial roll-out and on an on-going basis. Partners offer a wide variety of monthly per/user subscriptions, project and ad-hoc consultancy services which in many ways can reduce and even placate the absence of an IT department.

Partner access is also a standard feature of most suites. The beauty of such SaaS cloud solutions means that ‘responsive external admin support’ is just as transparent as if they were an IT department within your own firm..! . For more information see later under ‘Three sides to ongoing support’

Productivity - the dip before the boost

Of course, you’re looking for a productivity boost – but prepare yourself, your staff and partners for the inevitable productivity dip… Everyone will coming to grips with new tools, a wealth of new features and often new ways of doing business. All of these elements will take time to assimilate and conquer. In addition to the obvious user training the three steps below will help to both reduce the productivity dip, while smoothing and facilitating solution uptake.


Timely communications to ALL players will help to prepare the ground and allay potential concerns or misgivings.

  • Why are we doing this?

  • What are the apps?

  • How will the roll-out affect their roles?

Staged roll-out

Whilst the installation may follow a ‘big bang’ approach wise firms adopt a staged adoption. Users don’t need to leverage or become ‘experts’ in all the new tools at once. Indeed, modern software is so powerful few individuals ever use even a fraction of a single applications feature set.

No-one should claim expertise across a full cloud suite – ‘knowledgeable’ across the suite and ‘expert’ in some aspects is far closer to the truth. The old adage of ‘master the hammer and screwdriver before the power tools’ is just as pertinent with technology,

Deliver the maximum benefits first

A standard IT project ‘win-win’ approach is to master the solutions and/or roll-out the applications that deliver the biggest or most needed benefit first. For example, a project team may be inefficiently employing multiple spreadsheets and emails when a basic task management project application would enable managers and users to ‘sing from the same hymn sheet'. Likewise, a shared document store, complete with simple email enabled approvals, could revolutionize a team’s bid production process, instantly eliminating multiple versions of the same texts and progress chasing.

This approach has a number of clear benefits:-

  • Solving problems gets everyone on side – staff, management and owners.

  • Helps ameliorate the productivity drop.

  • Casts the project team in a good light.

While delivering maximum benefit components firms must ensure that they plan for the big picture and that all of the individual bits of the jigsaw will ultimately fit together and, in the case of IT solutions, intercommunicate. This area is again one that IT partner support can be invaluable. While most business will be aware of their issues and problems, most are unlikely to be fully up-to-speed with all the potential solutions.

Three sides to ongoing support

IT tools offer potential, but for this to be fully and efficiently released, small business must adopt some of the adoption approaches well proven by corporates.


Thankfully installation has become a lot easier… From the initial installation to regular update this is largely automated. Once signed up to a suite the initial install is 'wizard' based with auto hardware checking and success conformation, whilst updates take place in the background, only requiring an occasional restart to ‘cement’ the configuration.


Application Installation closes with the ‘default settings’ – those that suit most users and most situations. As a general rule, unless you really know what you’re doing, don’t tinker...! Thankfully most suppliers are wise to keep the most sophisticated and potentially problematic settings accessible only to those with admin permissions and within admin menus and often deeper down in even those menus.


Many of the tools are just that – a tools to build a solution. In their ‘raw’ form they will only partially deliver. To get the best they must be extended to more closely meet your business needs. Understanding that few SMEs will have ‘programming’ expertise suite providers typically provide templates as a first step on this customization. Firms should leverage templates and if they meet the bill run with them – they can always be honed and extend by experts, should they need arise.

Decided on the Cloud... but are you up-to delivering it?

You’ve decided that a Cloud suite solution is right for your business. You must now decide if you’re up-to the implementation and data migration process , or if you need expert support.

Thankfully leading suppliers have detailed roll-out documentation which allows you to preview the steps and complexity. This will prepare you for the forthcoming tasks and clarify the outsourcing support decision process.

- ENDS -


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