At Harbour IT we are often asked about the suitability of cloud computing for Not for Profits. From concerns around cost, to how the model works from a security point of view – the questions we are asked are all legitimate. What we thought we may do today is discuss the role cloud computing can play in a Not For Profit (NFP) and why it is inherently suitable by way of answering some of the more common questions we are asked.
How can the cloud help my NFP grow our income?
A fundamental, yet unspoken precept of business is that if there is a better, more efficient, lower cost way to run an element of your operations, which doesn’t jeopardise safety or similar concerns, you should take it. The same truly goes for Not for Profits. Though profit, by definition, is not a primary goal for NFPs, at the end of the day, they exist to maximise their income and to ensure that the funds they do raise are maximised and can be spent on the benevolent causes they choose.
Whilst moving aspects – or all – of your operations to the cloud will not alone generate you more income (though we do believe it will offer you greater efficiencies which can lead to higher income) it can offer both immediate and longer terms cost savings, which are just as valuable. Moving operational elements such as your business applications to the cloud can save money, as you’ll likely find that you don’t need to upgrade computers as regularly, and many employees can make do without higher-end computers and their added ‘grunt’.
it can offer both immediate and longer terms cost savings
Furthermore, you will find that moving applications and/or your infrastructure to the cloud will lower your reliance on either internal or external IT specialists, as there is less for them to maintain.
Security of the cloud
Ultimately, when discussing cloud security, there are two things to consider:
- What the causes of a security concern may be
- How you respond to data breaches whether you are in the cloud or not
Do you know where your data weak spots are? Do you know what the most likely cause of a data breach is likely to be? Did you know that evidence points to the fact that in most cases, IT security incidences are due to human error? In other words, your largest concerns will come from people not securing your systems properly, or in people introducing malicious code to the system. By moving to a cloud provider who manages your system infrastructure, your system vulnerabilities can be greatly diminished. Think of the advantages of knowing your data is stored remotely, has multiple redundancies and that it is very improbable that this will ever be lost.
Furthermore, we have found, that whilst data security and privacy is taken very seriously by most NFPs, the cost involved in creating robust IT security breach plans means this aspect is often overlooked. Yet, we have seen time and time again that those companies which decide to move elements of their operations to the cloud, undertake an audit of existing systems to understand them better and to determine the value in shifting to a cloud based model. As part of this, security concerns are raised and new contingencies and action plans for any potential breaches are created, ultimately adding value to the organisation.
Does the cloud truly improve efficiency?
In a word: Yes!
- Cloud based infrastructure (IaaS) means your current systems do not need to be maintained. This head hour cost can then be spent on more productive business projects
- Your staff will have access to their work from anywhere, at anytime. Whether you are using an internal cloud or an external cloud, your staff can access their work on the go, improving their efficiency
- Depending on whether you move applications to the cloud – and indeed what platform you use -there is the opportunity for your teams to work collaboratively on the same documents. This can save on time needed for meetings, in phone calls and in incorrect document versions being updated by people.
Of course these three questions only touch the tip of the iceberg. There are dozens of other questions which we are asked on a semi-regular basis. We are of course, always happy to answer more, so if you have any further questions please feel free to ask in the comments section below, or to contact us in the office.