5 W’s of bringing your business online

Working in the office has been a rare sight these last couple of years. Rather than gathering at the water cooler, employees were meeting via Zoom, GoogleMeet, Microsoft Teams and various other communication/meeting tools that allow us to collaborate from anywhere. Software systems being accessible off-site have also been around for some time now. Working remotely and the options available to us have existed pre-pandemic, yet it’s surprisingly still not clear which way to go when considering an “Off Premise” solution. We’ll take a look at the 5 Ws your business should be asking when considering bringing your business online.

Before we explore how your business can decide what’s best, it is important to lay down some basic framework. There are several ways your business can set up off-site work; let’s look at three.

Cloud-Hosting

Cloud-Hosting will store your computing and resources, typically with a monthly hosting fee and computer service provided via the internet. Think of Cloud as a storage unit that can hold your programs and computer demands outside your office and is available as long as you have internet access. SaaS (Software as a Service) is a subset of cloud computing, and it’s worth noting that not all SaaS solutions are built in the Cloud. They could be made on a local terminal but then deployed in the Cloud. Learn more about Spire’s Cloud-Hosting solution here.

Web (Browser-Based)

Applications can run either on a computer or mobile device, accessed via a browser (like Google Chrome, Edge, Safari). These are designed to work very similarly to the desktop version of your program but may have a slightly more condensed or light look or feel to them. They typically run the same way as an app you download to your phone. In most cases, web applications sync with programs run at the office. Learn more about Spire’s browser-based applications here.

VPN & RDP

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a secured tunnel in which data exchange can flow from your computer at the office to your laptop at home or on the go. VPN offers an encrypted, secure, and stable connection as long as your internet connection is good and your VPN security setup is done right (this is an IT service). A Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) gives users access to the physical work desktop. Essentially, RDP is the graphical interface needed to connect to a local machine.

5 Ws your business should be asking when considering making your software accessible from anywhere

Deciding what is right for your business, from a classic on-site model to a more modern and accessible solution, is challenging. Asking five basic questions will help you identify your business needs, staff accessibility, environment, infrastructure and security.

Who

Who is it that needs access to your systems? Are they high-level, high-value employees, administrators or on-the-road salespeople? Identify which roles within the organization need to access the systems while out of the office. The warehouse staff likely may not need outside access in the same way as the salesperson in the field or the executive management. User permissions that you would see in place in a local in-office scenario should also be considered.

What

What information do the identified users need? Are there salespeople on the road, accessing client lists, accounts, and placing orders? Answering the “who question” needs remote access is essential for identifying the “what”.

Why

Does workflow efficiency improve with an off-site solution? Immediate access to real-time data anytime anywhere can play a significant role in improving things like order processing time and customer response time. Often the “why question” a business wants to have a remote or Cloud solution isn’t for just one reason. Typically, we see awareness of infrastructure costs, unforeseen and uncontrollable scenarios like the pandemic, and more access to qualified people due to there being no geographical boundaries.

Where

Having a reliable internet connection is paramount in bringing your business online in any off-site scenario you consider. Service agents out in the field in no data zones will be problematic. The off-site strategy should also consider having dependable internet service providers that offer mobile data solutions options. Also, companies with employees working in different countries and time zones should be aware of any time restrictions when connecting to the office.

When

Identifying when your team needs access and how often is also essential. Are staff working typical business hours, or are they part-time members who only need access to your systems remotely for a short period? Understanding the length and frequency of your off-site needs will help your evaluations.

Cloud-Hosting has been increasingly popular, and it is safe to say that it is no longer just a trend. Mobile applications are increasingly being adopted by businesses and offer several benefits to the organization.

Bringing your business online doesn’t have to be a leap of faith.  Businesses today need to be adaptable with little to no interruption. Modern technologies such as Cloud Computing, Mobile, and Remote options allow companies to run, regardless of your staff’s location.

The 5 Ws mentioned above will ultimately help your business answer how you will access your business when not in the office.

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