A small business can get started with cloud services quickly and with low startup costs. Many businesses can get systems up and running that are more fully featured than what the IT norms were just five years ago. These systems also cost less over a three-year period. Whether or not the ROI is better over five years is a question that may not matter to many businesses that don’t have upfront capital for expensive servers, and are comfortable with a steady monthly cost for their infrastructure.
Let’s look at planning IT infrastructure using cloud services for a small startup of five people in a distributed environment who are not based in an office.
IT decisions should follow business function, so map out your company structure and workflow first. It’s hard to see the future in a small business, but include the next positions you are going to hire if growth is in your future.
Next, map out your workflow. Again, its difficult to tell how your company is going to run when you aren’t actually doing it, but you probably already have some idea of how this might work. At the very least, start with how your customers are going to interact with your company from start to finish. This will show you how the work is going to move throughout the organization.
Jane will answer incoming phone calls and emails for new business. She’ll forward these to Bob.
Bob contacts the customer back and work up a scope of work.
Jan, the designer, will pick up the design specs from Bob’s scope, and deliver proofs to the customer via email.
Robert, the marketing specialist, will pick up assets from Jan and create sample email blasts, which he will proof with the customer via email.
Sarah oversees all of the other employees, meets with the customer to clarify the scope of work, gathers marketing data for strategy, and otherwise run the campaign.
So as you can see from the sample scenario above, we have some basic infrastructure to cover - website, email, phone system, and a way to share files. Add to that a way to bill the client, and this should cover the basic workflow. In the next post, we’ll look at some cloud services that could fill the demand for this basic marketing workflow.