Your Guide to Using Cloud-Based Software – How Can it Transform Your Business?

Cloud Computing

The business of catering revolves around customer service. From the point you take a catering order, to working through the various amendments, through to delivering or hosting an event – you are on the frontline of customer service at every step. Customers will judge you on the quality, efficiency and friendliness of your service, plus the accuracy and presentation of the order you’re providing.

All those crucial factors involved in delivering your catering depend greatly on the reliability and efficiency of your behind-the-scenes processes. When used well, cloud-based software surpasses any other option on the market in giving your staff the tools they need, without burdening you with managing complex IT systems. Cloud based software allows you to focus on what you do best – which is delivering a great catering service.

First Off, What is Cloud-Based Software?

To address your number one-question straight up – the term ‘cloud’ is simply a metaphor for the Internet. It is not a physical place, and it refers the network of information and connections available when you log online. Cloud computing allows you to store and access your data and programs over the internet, as opposed to storing everything on your own PC or server. There are many benefits of cloud computing, including better protection of your data, accessing information from anywhere and always having the latest software updates – I look into more of these benefits below.

What is SaaS, and How Does it Fit in?

Software as a Service (SaaS) is a type of software that that is centrally hosted in the cloud. Companies can sign up for a license on a subscription basis, and access to the software is typically through a web browser.

In general business, SaaS can be used for managing your emails, accounting and customer relationship management. In catering in particular, SaaS can be used to provide tools like FoodStorm – that helps you take orders, process payments and track deliveries. It can also assist in data collection, targeted marketing and monitoring inventory.

How Can Cloud-Based Software make your life easier?

Cloud-based software provides numerous benefits, including easy installation, cost savings, working on-the-go and better collaboration. I’ve listed 10 ways cloud-based SaaS can make your life easier.

Easy set-up

Cloud-based software is easy to set up and usually involves no special computer hardware. Most of the time all you need is a web browser. Installation times are minimal, as the software is immediately available for access via the Internet.

Accessibility, mobility and syncing

SaaS allows you to access your applications through an internet connection from any location. Cloud-based software can be synced across different devices, such as your PC, smartphone and tablet, and enables you to access your data in real-time.

You can access your data (i.e., catering orders) from anywhere, and it’s always in sync (i.e. from work, your iPhone, at home, on holiday). Your staff can access and update catering orders on-site or on-the-go.

Collaboration

The real-time nature of cloud-based software lends itself perfectly to real-time collaboration. Not only can staff members and customers collaborate across different locations or devices, but they can also keep track of information without risk of confusion or double-up.

Everyone views and works on the same centrally stored files. This leads to improved overall efficiency, as any updates can be viewed immediately by separate users and the need for repeat data entry is eliminated, saving team members a significant amount of time.

Data recovery

Data recovery has never been easier or more cost-effective than with cloud-based software. Data is backed up regularly, without the hefty upfront or ongoing costs associated with alternative backup and recovery solutions.

With cloud-based software, your data is backed up regularly and typically backed up to multiple geographical locations. This means, in the event of a natural disaster, power failure or unexpected interruption, you can be confident that your data is secure and any downtime will be minimal.

Security

Cloud-based software can offer more security than desktop software.

Data stored in cloud-based software is extremely secure. This is due to both software security (SSL encryption and Firewalls) and 24/7 physical security at the data centre. The risk of unauthorised data access is also minimised. Because your data is secured in the cloud, access through lost or stolen devices can be revoked remotely and immediately.

Scalability

SaaS is a great option for rapidly scaling businesses that need to add or reduce user numbers without significant setup times, and without incurring large upfront capital costs for upgrades, software licences, and specialised hardware.

Customisation and integration

SaaS tools are designed for easy integration with other cloud-based tools and typically come with a range of options for customisation. This allows businesses to tailor their cloud-based software for enhanced efficiency and productivity gains.

For example, FoodStorm integrates with cloud-hosted Accounting Software, Payment Processors and Marketing Software – meaning that the data entered into FoodStorm is synced with these other systems without any copy typing or manual imports.

Maintenance and updates

Cloud-based software gives access to world-class technology without the hassle of maintenance and updates.

Not only are servers maintained by your cloud providers, software updates, new features  and all other essential maintenance are performed by the cloud software provider. This results in cost and time savings for you, leaving you  free to focus on your core business.

Expert assistance

Cloud-based software is highly reliable but, as with any product or service, unexpected things can happen. The difference? Part of your software subscription is likely to involve troubleshooting and, because you’re dealing with experts dedicated to working with cloud-based software, your problem should be solved in no time. If the problem’s in the cloud, it can be solved without the employment of an in-house software or IT specialist – everything can be handled by the software provider.

If the problem’s cloud hosted, you have a team of experts dealing with the problem – and not yourself. Cloud companies like FoodStorm stake their entire business on service and reliability, so will view fixing any problem as a priority.

Cost savings

Cloud-based software supports improved cash flow and revenue because the subscription model allows you to pay as you go, and only pay for what you are using. By eliminating the need for specialised hardware, maintenance, expensive upfront capital outlays, or costly licensing and upgrade fees, SaaS can free-up cash to focus on other things.