Look up to the clouds for your administrative solutions

A few minor tweaks can always save a lot of time, money and effort. And it’s not just about changing the way we physically do some of the things on our farms, but also the way we use our computers and the Internet.

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Almost everything is available online now (assuming you have an adequate Internet connection), and you can easily upgrade systems for tasks like payroll and accounting to make the number-crunching less time-consuming.

Systems such as QuickBooks, Sage One, FreshBooks, Office365 and Abukai Expenses are revolutionising small business administration as we know it, offering one-stop, integrated solutions.

Cloud-based systems are also the way to go and the uptake is increasing. According to research from SA’s World Wide Worx, only 9% of small local businesses used cloud technology in 2012. Since then, the number has increased to 22%.

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Many people were concerned about the security of personal data, but this fear seems to be something of the past as more and more users start relying on clouds. As a matter of fact, in a world where computers get stolen and data destroyed by viruses, cloud computing is one of the safest alternatives. Should any problems arise, you have the added benefit of not being responsible for fixing it – systems issues lie with the service provider.

Look out for affordability. You do not have to pay thousands of rand upfront to gain access to the right system or product. Some solutions are offered at monthly fees in the vicinity of R200 to R300 and there are payroll systems that offer integrated solutions for as low as R22/month/employee.

Some services are also pay-as-you-go options, offering additional functionality as you sign up for it. With the seasonal nature of the payrolls on some farms, this is particularly beneficial as there are systems that can be adjusted according to your immediate human resource requirements.

When you’re shopping for a cloud-based system, bear in mind that accessibility and multi-platform compatibility is another thing that’s important in this day and age. Make sure you opt for a system that you can access from your computer, tablet and smartphone. Look for a solution that allows you to do what you need to do anywhere, anytime.

And if you’re uncomfortable with the idea of storing all your data in the cloud, there are hybrid systems that allow you to store info both in the cloud and on your computer. This could be a good way of familiarising yourself with what cloud computing has to offer before making a decision to move all your systems into it.-