That’s the question we asked ourselves at JMT a few years ago when we were deciding whether that next big investment in servers and other infrastructure upgrades was the right path. For many businesses and nonprofits, costs related to IT infrastructure, personnel, outside services and all of the other expenses necessary to keep your critical applications running can push as high as 20% of the annual operating budget. Even if you accept these costs as the “cost of doing business”, it is still disruptive, both financially and to productivity, when the inevitable spikes in cost hit that are outside of your plan.
At JMT, we made the decision to take all of our critical business applications to the Cloud a few years ago. It didn’t happen overnight. First and foremost, we didn’t want to sacrifice any essential capability that would impact our ability to operate at a high level. This meant carefully vetting applications based on their ability to serve JMT’s needs. Secondly, we needed to understand the relative total cost of ownership of these systems compared to what we had in place.
JMT, like many organizations, had existing infrastructure (mail, database servers, Citrix, etc.), perpetual licenses to the software we used (we paid publisher support and maintenance), staff who were either full or part time dedicated to performing IT work, outside IT consulting contracts and the works. Comparing the cost required that we look out over a longer period of time to recognize the licensing differences between SaaS applications and what we were used to as well as looking ahead to a time where we wouldn’t need servers and other infrastructure on which to host these applications.
We started with CRM and were able to use a cloud-native CRM side-by-side with our on premises accounting and productivity applications. Soon thereafter, we moved away from Microsoft Exchange and began using Google Apps for e-mail and collaboration. The next big piece after that was to move to a cloud-native financial management solution that could be fully and seamlessly integrated with our CRM. The final piece, which is wrapping up right now, is to move all file storage/management offsite leaving just one box in our office to manage local connectivity and broadband access for the computers in our main office. The rest of everything we do is securely managed in the Cloud.
We are now converting what used to be our server room into additional office space. Our staff is able to work as productively from the office or at home or from a hotel without any additional enabling technologies. Our company is saving tens of thousands of dollars a year in expenses related to upgrades, hardware, outside services and other things we didn’t ever think twice about paying in the past. These savings weren’t immediate, but they became apparent once our transition was complete.