I met with a new client the other day. He is setting up a new business and had been introduced to me by an investor. Once we had dealt with the formal aspects of the meeting, the type of vehicle, tax issues and the like, we got to talking about his technology needs and the sort of IT infrastructure, software etc he was going to need.
“There are two of us in the office”, he said, “so we are both going to need laptops. I can get a Sage accounting package, Microsoft Office and then I am going to need some sort of server set up so that we can share files etc”. I could see him doing the mental arithmetic and mentally spending our investor’s initial funds.
“You could do it that way, of course” I pronounced, trying to sound as wise and knowledgeable as my seniority required, “but there is an alternative, which is going to be considerably less expensive and a lot more efficient”.
“Tell me, oh wise one” his expression said, urging me to expand on my words of wisdom..(OK I elaborate a bit here, but you get the sense..)
“Firstly, forget Sage (if only we could!). I suggest you use an online accounting package such as e-conomic. You, of course, don’t need any specific software as long as you have Internet access (as his business was going to be internet based, this last bit was somewhat superfluous, but I wanted to emphasise the point) and it will make life a lot easier for both of us when it comes to working on the management accounts and VAT returns etc.
And as file sharing goes, you don’t need your own server. Use someone else’s and don’t have all the worries about security and backups etc. With programmes such as Dropbox, you can set up virtual drives on both of your laptops, share files and access them from anywhere.
And don’t spend a fortune on Microsoft Office either. Suites of applications such as Open Office will give you everything you need, at no cost and compatable with Word and Excel etc”.
An admiring silence pervaded the room. “Wow” he said.