What is a small business owner to do? Every day, it seems there is another opportunity to upgrade your existing software, or to move “in to the cloud”. New services and companies are constantly offering solutions to problems we didn’t even know we had! More speed, more security, more mobility, 24/7 access, Search Engine Optimization and more…lots more!

We don’t plan to convince you one way or the other, there are many high-priced consultants who will do that. What we do want to share with you is a healthy dose of scepticism about all the hype, and a warning that the transition to whatever new service is considered, will never be as simple or as quick as the sales person will make you believe. And of course tomorrow there will be a faster, more secure and more mobile solution.

Over the past nine months, we have upgraded three of the software systems we use on a daily basis, and in each case the transition took much longer than promised. Some “bugs” demand creative solutions to overcome, and customer service reps are never as knowledgeable or as helpful as one would hope.

Most small businesses don’t have in-house IT departments, and can’t afford consultants to guide the users through these transitions. Most of the time, it will be up to the owner or a senior manager to manage the transition. Of course, that is if you are fortunate enough to have someone with the technical ability, and the time to manage it, in addition to their regular duties.

But can a small business afford to be left behind? It seems inevitable that the way of doing business is changing rapidly and that all of us are going to end up “in the cloud”. Our advice? Do lots of research, be sceptical of the claims by the sales people, count on double the time needed for the transition, and be prepared for you and your team to change the way you operate.

But in the mean time make sure you print off a copy of the instructions, write your passwords on a piece of paper and file them in a file folder in your office desk!