Is your business in the cloud? Cloud-based software, also known as software as a service (SaaS) has blown up in recent years. In fact, 55% of small businesses have adopted some form of cloud software. And it doesn’t stop there. Estimates show that a whopping 75% of all small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) will use at least one cloud-based tool to run their businesses by 2021.

But are these businesses really benefiting from mass adoption? Well, the results are mixed.

Why It’s Not a Magic Wand

For one thing, software is a powerful tool. It may not be as easy to use as a magic wand, but to truly benefit your business, you have to use it correctly.

Unfortunately, 62% of small businesses aren’t using the full capabilities of their software. It’s like using a hammer to pound in nails, but removing nails with a butter knife and pliers. Imagine the increased productivity if you just flipped that hammer around to remove those nails the right way!

Business software is similar. Moving your current processes (even if there’s nothing wrong with them) into one place will bring you similar efficiency gains.

The Benefits of Cloud-Based Software

While many businesses haven’t fully utilized their software’s capabilities, there are still huge benefits to cloud software.

In fact, many cloud software users report spending more time with their customers, a higher rate of customer satisfaction, and more money in their pocket. Here’s how it breaks down in the survey:

  • 53% spend more time with their customers
  • 46% say they saved money by shifting their software to the cloud
  • 45% attribute a rise in customer satisfaction because of the software

If making the best use of your cloud software could offer you all this, why wouldn’t you try it for your business?

How to Get the Most from Your Software

Getting the most from your cloud-based software is easier said than done. It starts with choosing the right software and then following through with training and regular use. Here are some tips for maximizing your results with your cloud software.

Pick the right one.

When choosing software for your business, do your best not to get distracted by shiny things. Here’s what you should focus on.

  • Clearly assess your needs. Figure out what your biggest pain points are and where the biggest bottlenecks in your business reside. Do you have trouble preparing quotes quickly? Are you constantly entering the same information in different places? Maybe collecting deposits and payments holds up your workflow. Whatever issues you have, make sure your software helps streamline these processes.
  • Consider scalability. Will the software grow with your company? You may only be a one- or two-person operation now, but if your business continues to grow, will the software accommodate more users, more client records, and more complex product or service offerings? Most cloud software applications offer different levels of usage and tiered pricing to go along with it. Choose the tier that fits your needs and budget now, but make sure there’s a good option for your future.
  • Check out the training and support. One of the most important considerations for any type of business software is training and support. You can easily use even the most complex systems with the right training and support. The opposite is true, too. Simple systems can be difficult to use if the training and support are subpar. Look for a company that offers 24/7 support with real people. Despite huge strides in automated technical support systems, nothing is more frustrating than robo-support misunderstanding your questions over and over.

Commit to onboarding and training.

Smart business owners know investing time up front can lead to great time savings in the future. So take the time to thoroughly understand your software’s capabilities and how to best implement them into your daily workflow. A good software company will happily walk you through this entire process, giving sound advice for any of your business procedures that might need modification.

Once you thoroughly understand how to use your software, document these procedures, and keep your training materials handy for future reference.

Ask for help, and stay informed.

Just because your onboarding and training are over doesn’t mean you won’t still need help. New features (or even forgetfulness) may warrant support calls. Never feel bad about making them! Those calls will actually help reinforce your past training, so reach out for help whenever you think you need it.

Ongoing learning will also help you get the most from your investment. If your software company sends product info updates, daily tips, or even a newsletter, subscribe to those notifications to stay on top of changes and industry trends.

Make yourself (and your employees) use it.

Change is difficult. Despite the commonly held belief that it takes 21 days to form a habit, one study concluded it actually takes an average of 66 days before a new behavior becomes automatic.

Repetition is key here. If you find yourself starting to revert to an old process, stop yourself and do it the new way even if it takes more time to complete the task. Do the same with your employees. Work your business management software into your standard work processes, and require your team to use it regularly.

Eventually, you’ll reap the rewards of improved efficiency, better customer relationships, and more money in your pocket.