Our Guide to the Top Collaboration in the Cloud SAAS Solutions
Ever since the Internet was created, one of the big goals has been to find ways to collaborate with co-workers, business partners, and customers through the web. However, dedicated services didn’t become a reality until the advent of SAAS (Software As A Service) packages. With these, real-time remote collaboration was born.
If your small business needs SAAS options, then now is the right time to invest in a SAAS solution, since improved functionality and cloud-based software have made installation and use practically the same as installing a program in your local network. You can then use these services over your Desktop PCs, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. You could say that SAAS options make virtual office systems even more of a reality.
That’s not to say that we should just willingly embrace SAAS without conducting due diligence so let’s review the pros and cons.
The Pros and Cons
- Savings are a big plus here, as you don’t have to install a physical IT infrastructure.
- As your business grows, you can scale up your SAAS options as well.
- Accessibility is a non issue, all you’ll need is a browser program (or app), and an Internet connection.
- You won’t have to worry about upgrades and updates, as your SAAS provider will take care of that for you.
- If ever your own physical network goes down, as long as you have access to the cloud network, you can easily transfer network points to other computers.
- Security will always be a concern. It’s a good idea to ensure your staff is spun-up on security issues before shifting to an SAAS option.
- Outages will still happen, so it’s a good idea that you have a “plan B” in place when it does. Luckily, down times tend to be short.
- Compliance will become an issue, so be sure to address this concern with your provider
- Performance depends on the machine the SAAS is running on, and the speed and stability of the Internet connection
- You should be careful about choosing new or startup SAAS companies. Make sure your data is transferable to another provider, just in case.
- The big stinger here is that you’ll have to check for software integration with everything else you are using. It’s not really a big problem, as it gives you the opportunity to upgrade all your existing software
So which SAAS solution is right for your business?
Here are some of the top SAAS collaboration software options available:
Budget SAAS options:
If you’re really just starting out, then here are some specific-use SAAS options that you can deploy until you come up with a budget for truer SAAS options.
Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft Skydrive and similar products:
Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft Skydrive and similar products offer free online storage services that usually include around 7GB of free storage. While these services do not provide document management capabilities they do make it easy to share documents beyond sending documents as email attachments. As long as you can make sure that everyone’s devices have no problem with using Dropbox, then you can use this service as cloud-based storage for your company files. You can even update everyone on all files needed for projects on a daily basis.
Microsoft’s recent acquisition of Yammer seems to lend weight to the idea that this social networking option might become one of the collaborative tools that Microsoft users can use for integrated services with other Microsoft products. Think of it as a virtual meeting room.
Skype has been the informal go-to communication network for many work-at-home and virtual office freelancers and teams. It makes sense that you should consider this service for your own workforce, at least until you can afford a more secure internal messaging system that can also accept communications from external sources, like clients and teams on the field.
Now, it’s true that Google Plus has issues concerning usage and spread, but their hangouts feature is a perfect way to have virtual meetings for up to ten people. This makes it more useful as a meeting SAAS, which puts it ahead of Skype in terms of true collaboration. You can also share documents through it, and even screens.
Small businesses and home users who do not own a copy of Microsoft Office will find tremendous value in the Microsoft Office 365 Business Premium subscription. Microsoft offers numerous templates and tools that make it fairly easy for users to design their business websites and moreover, web hosting is included in the subscription.
Those that need more sophisticated collaboration tools will find the solutions that they are looking for in Microsoft SharePoint Online, Huddle, HyperOffice and similar collaboration in the cloud SAAS providers. And, while Huddle appears to be favored among notable fortune 500 companies, SharePoint Online and HyperOffice provide comprehensive collaboration solutions at a more affordable price.
Businesses and home users who want to “keep it simple” will find what they are looking for in Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft Skydrive and similar cloud storage applications.
As you can see, there are many options for SAAS across the board. In addition, given how important work efficiency and communication is these days, it’s a good idea to keep on upgrading to better collaborative SAAS options as soon as you can, or once you have the a sustainable budget for them.