Organisations are considering the Cloud more and more. According to the Cloud Industry Forum in 2017, the overall Cloud adoption rate in the UK had risen to 88%. Despite this increase, it’s important that organisations do not just adopt the Cloud because everyone else is doing so. You need to fully consider the benefits that it will bring to your operations.
Finance Directors and IT Managers of charity and non-profit organisations need to make sure that they fully understand how the Cloud works and consider what advantages it can bring. In this blog, we are going to look at the benefits of Cloud computing for non-profits and good places to start on your journey.
What is the Cloud?
Before looking into how the Cloud could benefit your non-profit, it’s good to take a step back and make sure you fully understand what it means and how it works. The Cloud is not your data floating around in the sky. The Cloud is where you access your data and documents via an Internet connection rather than from a hard drive or a server on-premises. We’ve been using the Cloud for years. Services like Hotmail and Spotify are all Cloud based because you are accessing them via the Internet rather than accessing them locally. The Cloud is essentially a collection of services you access via the Internet. Now that we have established a basic understanding of what the Cloud is it’s time to look at the benefits.
One of the major benefits of using Cloud Services for non-profits is mobility. Being able to access all the software you may need via an Internet connection removes the barrier of always being in the office. If you have remote workers on your staff then they can access everything they need easily. For example, if you opted for Office 365, your emails and documents will sync across all your devices so you can work from wherever you are. You can also get extra collaboration tools that help remote workers massively such as Microsoft Teams for video chat and real-time co-authoring.
2. Donated Licensing
Non-profits benefit massively from donated licensing. Cloud Service Providers like Microsoft and Amazon provide a certain amount of licencing for free or at a discounted price. For example, if you have a registered charity number you can gain Exchange Online licenses completely free for your organisation for up to 300 users. If you want a more advanced Office 365 plan with the full Office suite then you are able get it at a fraction of the price per month compared to other businesses. You can find out more about getting your hands-on donated charity Microsoft licensing in our dedicated blog post.
3. Operating Expenditure
Cloud Services work on a subscription model and because of this it can change how you budget for your IT. Instead of working on a capital expenditure model where you have to budget for the hefty costs of replacement hardware every few years you can switch to an operating expenditure model. Cloud Services work on subscription plans, often where you pay a small cost per user per month. You then just factor your subscriptions into your operating costs and pay continuously to always have the latest versions of the software. Of course, if you opt for a completely donated licencing option you won’t even have to think about that.
Being able to get more out of each working day can massively impact any organisation. The collaboration and communication tools that are offered through Cloud software services can bring positive changes to the way that your staff operate. If you are using a service like Office 365, you will have access to video chat, instant messaging and corporate social networks to give your staff new ways to communicate. There are also tools like Teams and OneNote in Office 365 that make it easy to share documents and ideas and create a real virtual workspace for your teams to interact and do more together.
5. Document Control
Cloud Services are often user-centric and because of this it means you can control who has access to what. For example, your non-profit might deal with sensitive information that you must make sure is secure for compliance reasons. For example, when deploying Office 365 in your organisation you might also consider Azure Rights Management. Azure Rights Management puts controls in place so that only certain individuals or teams have access to particular documents. It’s also useful for controlling document access when someone leaves the organisation.
What Cloud Service should you get started with?
The great thing about Cloud Services is that you can go as little or as far as you as you are comfortable with. Many businesses operate with a hybrid IT environment using both the Cloud and on-premises infrastructure. We would recommend email as the first Cloud based option to consider for your non-profit. In many cases you would be able to get the licensing as a donation and you can roll it out in phases if you want to. With Office 365 you could opt to just migrate your email services or you can choose to go for the whole Office package. You might also consider going for a Cloud based CRM or accounting package. It all depends on what you are comfortable with and your budget.
There are many benefits available to non-profits that are considering Cloud Services. They provide Finance departments more practical ways to budget and are often available as a donation. In addition to this, once you start using the Cloud Service you have opted for they come with ease of access and new tools for your teams to take advantage of.
If you want to find out more about Cloud Services for your non-profit or want to learn about how to get hold of donated licensing, please do get in touch on 01675 469020 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.