You may not have an IT department for your small business, but you can still run your company on enterprise-class applications. Every aspect of business management — from accounting and customer relationship management to employee benefits and travel services — can be addressed by one software provider or another that provides best-of-breed applications as services over the Internet.
These so-called ASP software services are accessed via a Web browser and, while your data “lives” on the provider’s server, it is always very secure and accessible to you. Many of these services can be customized to meet your specific business needs, and their pay-as-you-go subscription model makes the high-end capabilities of enterprise software affordable to even very small businesses.
But before you begin piecing together an enterprise application suite from a range of ASP providers, think through your business’s overall needs and do some investigation. Some “free” or very low cost services come with the cost of setup that takes too much time or is simply missing the functionality your business requires. You can run your entire business on services such as NetSuite, yet these offerings may be too much software for some businesses’ needs.
Chris Shipley Co-founder and Editorial Director of Guidewire Group Executive Producer of the DEMO Conferences San Francisco