Our Cloud IT System
Only a decade ago small businesses were incapable of harnessing the power of information technology (IT) the way large companies could. During the past few years, however, low-cost cloud computing has advanced rapidly, now giving small businesses the ability to run high-tech IT systems similar to those being run at large companies.
Third Party Add-Ons
In addition, we use a third-party app called Insightly for our CRM/project management needs; this app enables us to share organization and contacts across our company, and track the progress of opportunities and projects. For backing up our file repository on Google Drive, we use another third party app called Spanning cloud back up; this app backs up our data twice a day, ensuring that it can always be retrieved if someone accidentally deletes a file or folder. For managing our finances we use QuickBooks; this app enables us to track and record money running into and out of our company, along with helping us pay state and federal taxes, run payroll, and manage our 401K accounts.
Google Chrome Hardware
Other than a couple of legacy Microsoft-based computers (desktops and laptops), most of our IT system is composed of Chromebooks and Chromeboxes. In our office, we have an Ethernet system, WIFI, 1 printer, 1 plotter, 1 Microsoft-based desktop computer, 3 Chromebox computers, 2 wall-mounted big screen TVs, and 2 Chromecasts. In the field, all our crews have a Chromebook in their vehicles, enabling them to connect to our IT system from anywhere a WIFI or mobile signal is present. The advantage of using Chrome devices is that they do not require maintenance and are immune to viruses, removing the need to have an IT person on staff. If we have a problem we simply call Contango IT, our IT consultant; but this rarely happens.
Leveling the Playing Field
Small businesses can now run high-tech systems similar to those being run at large companies. We hope that other small businesses will take notice and start to harness the power of the cloud. Although we might never be able to compete against big capital, we can at least now compete against big technology. This is a godsend many small businesses of the past never had.