Small Business Essential Tools

We are a technology consulting firm and our main initiatives are around the modern digital workplace. We talk to customers about Digital Transformation, cloud applications, and productivity.

As a Programmer myself, I think back to the days when we developed applications for desktops and servers. Then came this wave of the website for eCommerce and then all cloud computing power. There was a proliferation of apps for mobile devices, and now, the only applications I run on my computer, besides Microsoft Office is just my browser.

Everything I need to access my business and my entire life is available through the browser or the apps on my cell phone. Even my office files are accessed this way. We don’t have single file share in our office and we make a very serious attempt not to even send files over to each other in email. One of the last and lingering reasons for me to keep any machines in my office was my QuickBooks application.

QuickBooks desktop version kept me wanting to maintain a server, it was the way I ran payroll, invoicing and payment collections. Some very important functions to keep my business running.  We had a power outage because of a storm and I was out of town. The power didn’t return back for multiple days and my UPS didn’t last. This crashed the server on which the software was running and I spent days recovering all the information on that server.

One of the main applications on the server was the QuickBooks applications and I knew that I had to move that also into the cloud.  So here is a list of some of the essential applications that we use as SaaS cloud-based applications.

  1. We host our website through a managed hosting company and our website is built on a CMS technology just like WordPress or Joomla.
  2. Our Email, file sharing, and Web-conferencing are all run through Office 365. We use Skype for Business to run our online meetings, we even use Skype for business as our Telephone provider. We use SharePoint online for our intranet and file sharing
  3. Our website is integrated with our Marketing Automation solutions for which we use Dynamics 365 and Click Dimensions. When you visit our site you complete a form and that information is directly sent into our CRM System which is built on Dynamics 365.
  4. We have some eCommerce capabilities on our website and for that, we use as our payment gateway.
  5. We moved to QuickBooks online 2 years ago from QuickBooks on-prem. We felt like we lost some functionality when we first moved, but since the move, we have not once had to worry about backups or file management. We used Intuit to do our payroll and the QuickBooks online app integrates with so the online transactions all flow through automatically. Of course, there are many other great solutions out there for small business accounting and operations.

However, between Office 365, Dynamics 365 and Quickbooks we have a solid foundation to keep scaling. These systems are cloud-based – we can work from anywhere and they are secure.