[IMGCAP(1)]Around the New Year, people often start to wonder what resolutions they should make, in an attempt to make this year better than the last. 

Popular resolutions, in addition to the usual eating better and working out more, include saving money, managing stress and dedicating more time to things that matter. Sure, these are all great goals to have for your personal life, but what about your organization? Couldn’t your firm also benefit from making such resolutions?

Your organization could achieve these resolutions through one simple solution: moving to the cloud. Already, 6 in 10 companies have at least one cloud application, and the trend is only rising. It is estimated that within the next four years, the market for cloud services will double from $45 billion to $95 billion. Why all the hype? What is this “cloud” that everyone keeps talking about?

Cloud systems are hosted outside of your organization and are typically accessed through the Internet. Although the use of the software and hardware of a cloud solution is external, the user experience of “software-as-a-service” (SAAS) applications remains very similar to the systems that are hosted inside your firm. While the user experience remains the same, the organization as a whole can reap many benefits from moving to cloud. If you are looking to save money, worry less and devote more time to strategic initiatives in 2014, then moving to the cloud is something to consider, as it covers all three resolutions.

Resolution 1: Save more money  
Who doesn’t enjoy having extra money? Installing and maintaining a traditional on-premise system requires costly infrastructure and resources. With cloud-based solutions, there is no hardware to purchase and install, no environment to maintain, and no updates to manage. The money saved from implementing a cloud solution can be better allocated towards growing your business and improving your firm’s overall profitability.

Resolution 2: Reduce worry
Do you ever worry about how secure your organization’s data is? Cloud-based solutions can help ease your anxieties. Data centers for appropriate cloud solutions are located offsite, often in an undisclosed location, and are typically guarded by physical security and video surveillance. These data centers double-verify anyone who wishes to go near the systems or the data within them, providing your data with an extra layer of protection. Additionally, cloud solution providers often create at least one redundant environment, ensuring the availability and security of your data, if a backup is needed.

Cloud solutions also help reduce your IT department’s worries of viruses, hackers and bugs. Cloud solutions are equipped with a team of experts, who are solely dedicated to maintaining the software, ensuring its availability and protecting it from malware or other harmful threats. Additionally, the cloud solution’s vendor is bound to the service-level agreement stipulated in the subscription or contract. If your internal department was managing the security of your data, the service level might falter under an increasing workload, but with a cloud vendor, your service level will remain uninterrupted regardless of how much other work is taking place. This takes the burden off of your internal teams, and allows them to focus on what matters most to the business.

Resolution 3: Devote more time to strategic initiatives  
Cloud solutions provide more free time. They help free up your IT resources, which are more than likely already constrained. The burden is taken off of your IT department to maintain hardware, deploy and update software, and keep everyone connected, since the responsibility lies with the cloud vendor. This allows your IT team to dedicate their time towards strategic work such as business intelligence or application development, which ultimately will help take your business to the next level. Additionally, cloud solutions offer frequent and often automatic updates that could be difficult to manage internally. These current updates are great for users to quickly receive the latest features, which could help improve efficiencies, and even better for IT departments, who no longer have to manually install every update across the firm.

New Year’s resolutions are not only applicable in your personal life. Your firm could also benefit from implementing changes that better the organization. Practice management systems have brought accuracy and efficiency for years, but that isn’t to say there is no room for improvement. Cloud-based solutions can provide your firm with substantial cost savings, improved security and the ability to have more time to focus on strategic initiatives to grow your business.

Drew West is the solutions director for Deltek, a provider of enterprise software and information solutions for professional services firms and government contractors. With headquarters in Herndon, Va., the company has more than 1,600 employees worldwide.

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