- Access to human resources
- Access to technology tools
Human resource patterns
Employment patterns in a normal economy tend to follow two patterns: Larger companies with more resources attract and retain the best talent, and outsourcing service agencies that specialize in a given area will also offer the best opportunities for employment within a given niche. If you’re a small business with ten employees, you may be able to afford to hire a generalist IT person to run your network, but specialists in areas such as IT security, system integration, or agile development are likely to be out of reach salary-wise. Those specialists will gravitate to specialized IT companies, or larger corporations that can make use of the specialist’s particular talents.
But where does that leave the small business? Twenty years ago, the small business was left out in the cold. Today, the small business, which may not have a need for a full time IT security person, still can gain access to a security specialist through an outsourcing agreement. The specialists (and their employers) are able to devote more time to that one specific area, and also to devote more capital resources in purchasing and deploying the best tools.
Access to technology tools
Access to adequate human resources assets is tied to the business need for access to superior technology tools. The technology investment a small business must make has been lessened on two fronts. Given that a small business is more likely to use outsourced services, it is a fact that those third party specialist providers are going to be using more advanced, more specialized, and more state-of-the-art equipment, software, and tools. In fact, the development tools a third party development house uses, and the servers and hardware that a third party managed hosting company uses, will very likely be the best available whereas if the small business were to try to purchase and use these in-house, budgetary constraints would prohibit access to these same tools.
The argument for software-as-a-service (SaaS applications)
This is where software-as-a-service comes in as one of the greatest benefits for small business. Software-as-a-service, whether it is offering a standard application service or a customized service, works by deploying a common code base that is shared among many users. In most cases, the common code base still allows for individual customization by giving each user client a portal for entering their own configuration and preferences. It’s simple economics that since the SaaS applications provider is leveraging a common code base to service multiple clients, they are able to afford the best—which would ordinarily be out of reach for a small business on a budget.
The other advantage comes in ease of administration. Again, a small business that has only a minimal IT staff, or perhaps no IT staff at all, may not be able to easily administer programs like CRM, project management, or resource scheduling. The SaaS proposition shifts the administrative burden from the user company, to the third party provider. The small business person no longer has to worry about applying patches and updates, configuring adds/moves/changes, or figuring out what went wrong if the system goes down.
The cost factor is by no means the only reason for a small business to deploy SaaS solutions, but it is certainly a compelling one. Operational costs are kept low, because the user typically pays a monthly fee rather than having to purchase a system from scratch; and manpower costs to run the solution are also minimized because administration is shifted to the third party provider. But besides operational costs, capital costs are also a major factor: Running an in-house CRM system for example, may require deployment, management, and continuous update of a physical server and data storage. Costs can run high over time. The SaaS advantage eliminates this capital expenditure completely.
The value proposition to the small business is obvious:
- Access to higher-end tools, services, and personnel
- Lower administrative burden
- Lower operational costs
- Lower capital costs
Software-as-a-service (SaaS) makes small business look big
By leveraging the power of SaaS tools, a small business can access infrastructure and services that would not otherwise be possible to obtain, or would put a strain on the budget. As a result, for the first time a small business—even one with just one or two employees being run out of a business owner’s back room—can have access to the very same high-end services that were once reserved only for the largest corporations. Competition on a level playing field means the small business has a greater ability to service demanding customers.
The Skylight Advantage
Skylight takes software-as-a-service to the next level with a free or paid service that encompasses everything a small business needs. Your simple dashboard gives you access to all of your active projects, a contact manager, and the ability to generate invoices, quotes, and purchase orders with custom headings. Offering a complete set of small business web-based tools, it’s perfect for a start-up shop on a budget. Users have access to tools for project management, resource scheduling, CRM, and accounting, all in the same interface.
Small businesses are taking more advantage of outsourcing, and are using an extended team—and many team members may not be in the same city. Skylight helps a small business tackle this strategy by adding team and project management tools—so you can make sure you’re staying on top of your business.