13 Jul Some Benefits of Cloud Computing
Non profit associations should strive for efficient operations at all times. The smoother all of the administrative processes are, the easier the day to day operations will be. The first step towards utmost efficiency is to move away from paper files and forms (which can easily be lost, hard to find, and take up space in the office) and store everything electronically. The next step is to keep everything safe by backing up, or working in, the cloud.
Cloud computing systems are one of the best ways to increase efficiency for your organization. With cloud computing, files can be shared, collaborated on, and downloaded in different formats- no more emailing back and forth, or having the wrong version of a file on hand, or having forgotten to send yourself the corrected file before heading to a conference. Everything is stored online, and is available to you and others you choose to be in your network whenever or wherever you need it. Coworkers can download PDF versions of files at the click of a button.
There are a number of ways that this is helpful to your organization. Perhaps your executive director is attending a conference, and wants to work from the hotel. Some of your employees may sometimes want or need to work remotely from home, or board members may be located in various cities across the country but want to collaborate on something. Documents can be shared with ease, and edited in real time with coworkers in a web browser, and accessed anywhere, anytime. Information is immediately accessible.
There is also a large amount of safety in cloud computing. All of us have, at one time or another, lost a file due to a technical issue with a computer. With the cloud, edits are saved as they are made and documents are there until you remove them. Computer malfunctions happen, and cloud storage systems are there to make sure you are backed up.
A few sample systems are Google (which has a special, free program for 501c3 organizations), Dropbox (which offers a discount for non profit organizations) and Carbonite (which offers a discount for non profit organizations). Many other platforms are available- Amazon recently began to offer cloud storage, Apple also has a program- these are some of the more popular websites that are also easy to use, affordable, and non profit friendly.
Google allows you access to all of its apps (gmail, google docs, google calendar), which does an excellent job of allowing everyone to be completely in sync. Google docs, the online document creator, is incredibly easy to use, and mostly identical to Microsoft Word in functionality. This means there will be little learning curve for employees or others working with your organization. There is the option to create the equivalent of a word document, spreadsheet, presentation, or even the new “Google forms” which allows you to create a survey and then collect and analyze results.
Dropbox is a simple tool for file sharing and file management- anyone in the organization can join the network and have access to various files and folders, which are also accessible on mobile platforms through the account as well. It can be an easy way to pass files back and forth, or just keep things organized for an event with many people involved.
Another option for cloud storage is Carbonite, which has a very different function from Google. Carbonite is an online backup system that automatically backs up all of the files on your computer in the background while you are working. While this does not include file sharing or collaborative elements, Carbonite or services like it can be essential tools for ensuring the safety of your documents and files.
While this post lists some of the most popular systems out there, the best thing is to do some of your own research and look at the varying costs and benefits of the many systems out there.
The loss of files, or a jumble of confusing, varying versions of the same file, can be detrimental to the efficiency of your organization. A loss of data can be difficult to recover. Backup systems, storage systems, and online collaboration can help your organization become more efficient, more organized, and safe from computer crashes.