What is cloud computing?

Discussion in 'Other Languages' started by admin, Dec 16, 2015.

  1. admin

    admin Administrator Staff Member

    Everyone is talking about “the cloud.” But what does it mean?
    Business applications are moving to the cloud. It’s not just a fad—the shift from traditional software models to the Internet has steadily gained momentum over the last 10 years. Looking ahead, the next decade of cloud computing promises new ways to collaborate everywhere, through mobile devices.

    Life before cloud computing
    Traditional business applications have always been very complicated and expensive. The amount and variety of hardware and software required to run them are daunting. You need a whole team of experts to install, configure, test, run, secure, and update them.

    When you multiply this effort across dozens or hundreds of apps, it’s easy to see why the biggest companies with the best IT departments aren’t getting the apps they need. Small and mid-sized businesses don’t stand a chance.

    Cloud computing: a better way
    With cloud computing, you eliminate those headaches because you’re not managing hardware and software—that’s the responsibility of an experienced vendor like salesforce.com. The shared infrastructure means it works like a utility: You only pay for what you need, upgrades are automatic, and scaling up or down is easy.

    Cloud-based apps can be up and running in days or weeks, and they cost less. With a cloud app, you just open a browser, log in, customize the app, and start using it.

    Businesses are running all kinds of apps in the cloud, like customer relationship management (CRM), HR, accounting, and much more. Some of the world’s largest companies moved their applications to the cloud with salesforce.com after rigorously testing the security and reliability of our infrastructure.

    As cloud computing grows in popularity, thousands of companies are simply rebranding their non-cloud products and services as “cloud computing.” Always dig deeper when evaluating cloud offerings and keep in mind that if you have to buy and manage hardware and software, what you’re looking at isn’t really cloud computing but a false cloud.

  2. admin

    admin Administrator Staff Member

    QuickBooks Online vs. Xero: Which Is Better?


    Intuit has dominated the accounting software market for years. Depending where you get your numbers, estimates put the company at 80-90% market share for small business accounting in North America. QuickBooks is a household name, with a reputation for reliability. It’s only relatively recently that the competition has begun to heat up – and it’s happening in the rapidly expanding field of cloud accounting software. Specifically, it’s happening with Xero.

    Developed in New Zealand and initially geared toward the Australasian market, Xero now serves over 540,000 businesses in more than 100 countries. The company claims it provides “Beautiful Accounting,” focusing on ease of use, solid functionality, and an ambitious development schedule – product updates come out every 3-6 weeks. While QuickBooks Online remains a more popular program (serving over 1,150,000 businesses), Xero is beginning to look like a serious competitor … especially now that it’s venturing into areas in which QuickBooks once had a near-monopoly.

    As of June 2015, both companies were expanding their customer bases rapidly (Xero: 42% growth since May 2014; QBO: 23%). However, in the past 5 months, QBO has jumped ahead, with a whopping 37% increase in customers (compared to Xero’s 14%). This may be in part due to Intuit’s response to Xero: QuickBooks Online has implemented frequent updates (on a similar timetable to Xero’s) and has finally made strides toward fixing their notoriously awful customer service. This is good news for all you customers out there: so long as both companies are facing solid competition, we can probably expect to continue to see some remarkable improvements in both pieces of software.

    So how do the two programs line up? Let’s take a look.

    Most ecommerce merchants are familiar with QuickBooks and QuickBooks Online. Xero, a hosted accounting platform for small businesses, is less known. As a CPA for small-to-midsized ecommerce companies, I prefer Xero, for the reasons set forth in this article.

    Xero: Product Overview
    Xero was built to be an Internet accounting solution. It is not a streamed down version of desktop software

    QuickBooks Online has always felt, to me, like a downsized version of QuickBooks desktop. While the online version has improved, it is not as user friendly as it should be.

    QuickBooks desktop provides small-to-midsize businesses with most of their accounting software needs. However, it has to be installed on a hard drive and its cost increases for multiple users. It also requires a server for multiple users. And to share information with a CPA, a merchant must grant access to the server or exchange downloaded files. In addition, QuickBooks forces you to update its software every few years.

    All three products — QuickBooks desktop, QuickBooks Online, and Xero — have similar functions, as follows.

    • Bank synchronization
    • Bank reconciliation
    • Accounts payable
    • Accounts receivable
    • Inventory
    • Invoicing
    • Bill management
    • Payroll
    • Financial reporting
    • Cashflow quick views
    • Multi-currency
    • Document sharing
    • Quotes
    Why I Prefer Xero to QuickBooks Online
    If you insist that your accounting software be installed on a hard drive, go with QuickBooks desktop. But if you want to take advantage of technology, invest in an online solution. The best option, in my view, is Xero.

    Bank reconciliation made simple. The ease of reconciling bank accounts is the primary difference between Xero and Quick Books Online. The accuracy of your bank account(s) is very important. Money going in and out needs to be recorded in a timely manner.

    Both products allow its users to sync bank accounts and download bank transactions. This allows you to match previously recorded transactions with the bank transaction with the click of a button.

    But Xero is better three areas.

    • Easy dashboard access. When you log into Xero, you immediately go to your dashboard where your bank and credit card accounts are listed. Under each account is a blue tab that tells you to reconcile x number of bank transactions. With this reminder, you are more likely to reconcile a few transactions daily instead of copious transactions at month end.
    • Matching transactions. If transactions can’t be matched, Xero offers its best recommendations. QuickBooks Online has more of a search engine for matching transactions.
    • “Discuss” tab. On the bank reconciliation screen in Xero, there is a “Discuss” tab for all downloaded bank transactions. If you aren’t sure how to classify something, type a question here and save it. You can then alert your accountant or bookkeeper, and he can tell you how it should be classified. It’s easier to do it right the first time instead of fixing later.
    Another item that makes reconciling easy is bank rules.

    Bank rules. Bank rules define how a bank transaction will be recorded. For example, you can make a bank rule for Staples, the office supply retailer, and all transactions that have this description will automatically be classified as office expense. Xero has had this function for a long time. QuickBooks Online incorporated bank rules only last year. It is one of several examples of QuickBooks Online playing catch up to Xero.

    Here is a video explaining how bank reconciliations work in Xero.

    Accessibility and collaboration. Business owners should spend the majority of their time increasing revenue, not getting frustrated and being uncertain of their financials. Online accounting systems like Xero allow you to access your accounting records from anywhere at anytime. All you need is Internet access.

    If you do your bookkeeping, your accountant can now access your information in real time. If you outsource your bookkeeping to an accountant, both of you can see the same information at the same time.

    Either way, having your accounting system online allows for quicker and easier communication. Financial decisions and discussions happen sooner because information is shared faster due to the ease of accessibility.

    Add-ons. No accounting system is perfect, in my experience. Every business is different and has its own accounting needs. To help businesses create the best accounting system, Xero and QuickBooks Online have add-ons, which are third-party extensions that increase functionality.

    Xero claims, on its website, 350 plus add-ons. QuickBooks Online doesn’t state the number of add-ons. It’s almost certainly much smaller than Xero.

    Popular ecommerce add-ons for Xero are Stitch Labs (inventory management), Shopify, PayPal, and Magento.

    Xero’s marketplace contains 350 add-ons.

    Files. As a CPA providing outsourced accounting services, “Files” is my favorite Xero function. Each Xero account has a unique email address to send electronic documents for storage and for attaching to transactions. If you don’t want to email a document, just drag and drop into Files or attach it to a bank transaction.

    From Files, you can attach a bill to an accounts payable transaction or a receipt to a bank transaction. Xero Files allows you to keep all accounting documents in one place and attach documents to specific transactions for easy reference.

    For those who outsource their accounting, you no longer need to mail or scan copious documents at month end. As you collect documents, email them to Xero Files. If you have debit or credit card receipts, take a picture of them with your phone and email them to Xero files.

    Prices and users. Xero’s monthly cost depends on the version. The “Starter” plan is $9 per month. The “Standard” plan, which includes unlimited transactions and payroll for up to five employees, is the most popular, at $30 per month. The “Premium” plan, which allows for multiple currencies and payroll for up to 10 employees, is $70 per month. All of Xero’s prices include multiple users. In other words, you don’t have t additional expense to add users.

    For QuickBooks Online, there is the “Simple Start” plan, at $12.95 per month for one user. “Essentials” is $26.95 per month for three users. The “Plus” plan is $39.95 per month for up to five users.

    Try Both Options
    For my CPA firm, we think Xero is a much better solution. But try each option before you decide. Both offer free 30-day trials.

    Enter a few test entries to try each product — not a full month’s transactions, just enter a few test entries. Create some fake invoices, bills, and checks. After doing this in each product, you should have an understanding of each one, to make an informed choice.


    Credits: http://www.practicalecommerce.com/articles/84967-QuickBooks-Online-vs-Xero-Which-Is-Better

  3. admin

    admin Administrator Staff Member

    20 Tools to Run a Small Business

    A small business owner assumes many functions — marketing, sales, human resources, information technology, and research and development. Fortunately, there are some terrific online tools to help you perform most any company task.

    Here is a list of online tools to run a small business. There are tools to schedule customers, collaborate with a team, manage social conversations, distribute content, build and analyze websites, and more. All of these tools are relatively inexpensive, and several are free. If your favorite tool isn’t listed, be sure to include it in the comments below.


    Slack is an internal messaging app for your team. Slack features real-time messaging, file sharing, one-to-one and group conversations, inline images and video, rich link summaries and integration with services you use every day. Price: Free account for 5 integrations and 10K message searchable archive. Paid plans start at $6.67 per user per month.



    Asana is a tool for team tasks and conversations. Organize your tasks into shared projects for your initiatives, meetings, and lists. Keep conversations with tasks, instead of scattered across email. Get automatic updates about tasks that matter to you. Visualize you team’s goals and milestones with calendars and dashboards. Price: Get started for free. Paid plans start at $21 per month for 5 users.



    Wave offers a platform of financial applications, for small businesses with nine employees or less. The tools are for invoicing, accounting, payroll, payments, and more. Price: Accounting, invoicing, receipts, and personal finance applications are free. Payroll application starts at $9 per month, payments application is 30 cents plus 2.9 percent per transaction.



    Insightly is a customer-relationship-management system for small businesses. It helps you manage contacts, organizations, partners, vendors, and suppliers. See everything about your contacts — background, email history, important dates, and projects in which they’ve participated. Insightly also incorporates project management features, such as creating tasks and milestones, automated reminders, projects views, and event reports. Price: Free up to three users. Standard plan is $7 per user per month.



    Trello is a collaboration tool to organize projects. Trello uses boards, lists, and cards to create projects and develop your workflow. Create lists filled with cards, used with a team or by you. Drag and drop cards, and reorder as needed. Follow your project as the board updates in real time. Price: Free. Premium plan is $5 per user per month.



    Hootsuite is a tool to manage your social media conversations. Manage social networks, schedule messages, engage your audiences, and measure return on investment right from the dashboard. Monitor and engage followers in over 35 popular social networks. Hootsuite’s social media analytics give you an in-depth view of how well your social media efforts are being received, so you can run with what’s working or change directions. Price: Individual plan is free. Pro plan is $9.99 per month.



    Dlvr.it is a tool to manage content distribution. Dlvr.it continuously monitors your news feeds and RSS-enabled websites and automatically shares new content to your social networks. Queue up content and distribute it at optimal times when your audience is active and engaged. Dlvr.it also offers promoted stories for expanded distribution. Price: Free plan available for five feeds. Enhanced plans start at $9.99 per month. Promoted stories start at $9.95 per story.



    MailChimp helps you design email newsletters, share them on social networks, and track your results. Get insight about your subscribers and keep your contacts in one place. MailChimp features automated emails, send-time optimization, advanced analytics, flexible design options, and more. Price: Free plan for up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month. Paid plans start at $10 per month.



    Desk.com is an out-of-the-box customer support app for small businesses. Get the tools you need to manage cases so you can quickly help customers. Make it easy for customers to troubleshoot issues and close their own cases. Automate repetitive tasks to reduce the times agents spend on simple cases. When you need more customization, upgrade with just a few clicks. Price: Plans start at $30 per month.



    Invoiceberry is an online tool that helps your business send quotes and invoices to clients within a few clicks. Create, send, and manage your invoices and keep track of expenses and payments. Send invoice reminders within seconds and get paid faster. All invoices are stored online and easily accessible. Price: Free for up to three clients. Paid plans start at $15 per month.



    Do is an app to run productive meetings. Utilize a visual timeline to see what’s going on with meetings and participants. Set an agenda, track follow-ups, and define outcomes. Share a canvas for all the notes, presentations, and docs. With automatic meeting summaries, Do emails the notes to all participants. Run a meeting from your desktop or mobile device. Price: Free.



    Appointlet is an online appointment-scheduling app for Google Calendar, for customers that need to book your services. Connect your existing Google Calendar and Appointlet will immediately identify when you’re busy. Appointlet sends automatic and customizable reminders to your clients. Collect payments when clients books appointments. Appointlet can be added to your website, emails, or social media profiles. Price: Plans start at $10 per month.



    OneDrive is Microsoft’s cloud storage and collaborative workspace solution. Securely store all your files and share them with co-workers. Each OneDrive for Business user gets 1 TB of storage. OneDrive for Business is fully integrated with Microsoft Office, so it’s easy to create, edit, and review documents with others in real time and even discuss them on Yammer, the private social network. Ensure that everyone is working on the most recent document and can view or revert to previous versions as needed. And when it’s time, you can set up a seamless review and approval process. Price: Business plan is $5 per user per month; Office Online included.



    Wunderlist is a collaborative to-do list platform to help your team get things done. Delegate to-dos in your shared lists and accomplish more together. Use the comments feature to have team discussions about tasks. Add a reminder to make sure no to-do is missed. Set due dates, and get updates via push, email, and in-app notifications. Wunderlist is available on desktop, mobile, and the web. Real-time sync keeps all your lists current.Price: Free. Business account is $4.99 per user per month.



    Evernote is a workspace app to move ideas from inspiration to completion. Write, collect information, find what you need, and present your ideas to the world. Clip web articles, capture handwritten notes, and snap photos. Utilize Evernote’s search to find what you need when you need it. Present your work as it evolves with just one click, transforming notes into screen-friendly images. Price: Free. Premium plan is $5 per month. Business is $10 per user per month.



    GoToMeeting is an easy-to-use audio, video, and screen-sharing platform for online meetings. Launch a meeting, and invite people via phone, email, or instant message. Present and collaborate from your tablet or computer. Features speaker identification, application sharing, group and private chat, one-click recording, on-screen drawing tools, free mobile apps, and up to 100 attendees. Price: Free for up to three users. Paid plan $39 per month for up to 25 users.



    UserVoice is a customer support application that’s a scalable and affordable solution for small business. UserVoice features three core products to keep customers happy: feedback forums, support ticket systems, and a knowledge base. Understand the feature requests that matter most to users. Make information easy to access, so you can help users instantly, and reduce requests and tickets. And with the UserVoice helpdesk, fielding support tickets is as easy as answering email. Price: Plans start at $15 per agent per month.



    WordPress is an open-source content management system. WordPress started as just a blogging platform, but now can be used to create dynamic websites of all types, including ecommerce stores, through the thousands of plugins and widgets and themes — there are over 35,000 plugins and 3,000 themes available. Price: Free.


    Google Analytics
    Google Analytics.

    Google Analytics gives you the full traffic picture across ads and videos, websites and social tools, and tablets and smartphones. Measure advertising and campaign performance. Analyze and test segments of your traffic. Get insights on your audience, such as where it comes from and how loyal and engaged your visitors are. Price: Free. Contact for premium pricing.


    Google Apps
    Google Apps.

    Google Apps is a suite of many essential tools to run your business. Use Gmail for email, as well as search and integrated calendars for scheduling. Draft work collaboratively withDocs, then save your work in Drive. Use Hangouts to give video presentations or host video conference calls. Price: $5 per user per month.



    Source: http://www.practicalecommerce.com/articles/80188-20-Tools-to-Run-a-Small-Business

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