Best Cloud Apps for Assisting and Improving Business Operations in 2023
Businesses can employ a wealth of cloud solutions to manage daily operations. While competing definitions abound, business operations are typically composed of a handful of elements—including accounting, facilities and equipment, processes, sales and marketing, staffing and technology—that assist an organization in running properly and steadily earning money.
Long-reputable cloud-based stalwart business management solutions are available from such trusted vendors as Google, Intuit and Microsoft. There are numerous others, of course, and many benefit from having received fresh updates and features. As some of the most popular and widely used solutions in business, all are worth considering if your organization seeks to improve and more efficiently manage business operations.
Here’s a look at some prominent options commonly celebrated for providing reliable and robust assistance managing daily business operations. Note, all pricing is presented assuming organizations purchase the less-expensive annual payment option.
Accounting tasks are a necessary function for any organization regardless of size or industry. Here are three leading cloud solutions trusted by many to manage these critical financial responsibilities.
Begun in a Toronto basement in 2003, FreshBooks offers a full range of accounting features for use by freelancers, self-employed business owners and organizations (including those dependent upon contractors). The cloud-based software services accounting, bookkeeping, estimating, invoicing, mileage tracking, reporting and time tracking needs, while also fulfilling expense management, mobile, payment, payroll and proposal functions.
FreshBooks advertises itself as working using any web browser on any computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone. Android- and Apple hardware-specific apps are also available.
The platform recently streamlined invoicing and billing design to simplify operation, and a new Outlook connector was introduced in 2021. Multiple FreshBooks pricing plans are available, beginning with a Lite plan that includes basic functionality for less than seven dollars a month and includes support for up to five billable clients. A Plus version increases that limit to 50 and adds automation and insight features for $12 monthly, while a Premium subscription ($22 monthly) adds additional capabilities, such as support for an unlimited number of billable clients. A Select plan, with custom pricing, is also available.
QuickBooks Online is among the industry’s most popular solutions. The platform is designed for everyone from freelancers and single proprietors to small and medium businesses (SMBs) operating within a variety of industries. Features include full accounting capabilities, such as invoicing, expense tracking, bill paying and project management and reporting, as well as point-of-sale, payroll and virtual bookkeeping options.
Intuit’s recommended Internet speeds call for a 3Mbps or better Internet circuit. iPhone, iPad and Android phone and tablet apps are also available. QuickBooks Online supports a variety of web browsers, too, including Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari.
Intuit offers multiple QuickBooks Online subscription options. Pricing plans begin at $15 per month with the Simple Start subscription that includes a number of functions, including support for invoicing, estimates, mileage tracking and cash flow forecasting, general reporting and sales tax management. The $27.50 per month Essentials plan adds enhanced reporting, bill management and support for three users, among other features. A $42.50 per month Plus plan increases support for up to five users, inventory capabilities and project profitability forecasting. A $100 monthly Advanced option adds business analytics, employee expensing, custom access and workflow automation capabilities, among other features. Free guided setup and the ability to connect sales channels (such as from Amazon, eBay or Shopify) are among new features recently added to the platform.
Designed for small businesses, Sage Accounting extends invoicing, accounts payable, accounts receivable, automated workflows and reporting features, among other options. The cloud-based platform aims to assist businesses seeking to reduce the time they spend on administrative responsibilities.
The platform is Windows, Mac and Android compatible. Apple Safari, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft Edge are among the supported web browsers.
Two Sage Accounting subscription plans are available. At the time of this writing in March 2023, Sage Accounting Start was priced at $10 per month. The plan includes invoicing, payment tracking and bank reconciliation features. The regular Sage Accounting subscription was on sale for $7.50 a month and includes unlimited users, estimate and quoting features, cash flow forecasts and the ability to manage purchase invoices, too.
Facilities & Equipment
Facilities and corresponding equipment are often managed and maintained using a computerized maintenance management system, known as a CMMS. Here are three such popular solutions.
With a flexible, customizable user interface, eMaint is a popular CMMS among firms operating within a variety of industries, including manufacturing, oil and gas, warehousing, government, food and beverage, healthcare and life sciences. The solution includes asset management, work order, condition monitoring, project management tasking and scheduling, inventory administration, dashboard and reporting and data visualization capabilities and supports a wide range of third-party application programming interfaces (APIs), a necessity when deploying an effective CMMS.
The eMaint platform includes support for mobile maintenance via its Fluke Mobile App available from the Google Play and Apple App Store. eMaint is compatible with a range of standard browsers, too, including the big four (Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari).
Three eMaint CMMS subscription plans are available. The Team option costs $69 per user per month. This entry-level plan includes standard CMMS functions, unlimited help desk support and mobile device use, among other features. The Professional plan, priced at $85 monthly, adds dedicated account management, interactive image mapping, automated workflows and work request options, among other features, while the Enterprise plan runs $120 per month per user and adds access to Web APIs, a multi-site toolkit and support for single sign-on functionality, for example.
Designed to simplify workflows, reduce operations and maintenance expenses and modernize processes, MaintainX services a number of industries. Associations, clubs, food and beverage service, hospitality, property management and schools are among the market verticals for which the cloud-based software is intended.
MaintainX includes common features needed within a CMMS platform, including work orders and requests, preventive maintenance scheduling, inventory tracking and management, inspections and checklists components, reporting, integrated chat and other communications options. The software also integrates with a range of accounting, data, enterprise resource planning (ERP) and fleet solutions, among many others.
Users can operate the application’s web-based app using Google Chrome, which can also be configured to mimic a Windows desktop app by installing a desktop or launch bar icon. MaintainX also lists Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Apple Safari and Opera as compatible browsers.
Four MaintainX subscription plans are available. The Basic version, which includes unlimited work orders and requester users, real-time messaging, two active repeating work orders and two work orders with attached procedures, as well as one-month access to advanced analytics, is free. A $16-per-user-per-month subscription adds unlimited work orders with images, unlimited repeating work orders, three work orders with attached procedures and three-month access to advanced analytics. The Premium version, which MaintainX maintains is the most popular plan, is $41 per user per month and adds unlimited work orders with attached procedures, unlimited advanced analytics, meter-based maintenance, parts inventory management, purchase order support, time and cost tracking and Open REST API access. The fourth plan, an Enterprise version, adds escalation protocols, custom permissions and IoT sensor integrations, among other features, and features customized pricing.
Targeting asset operations management via a mobile-first approach, UpKeep is employed within a variety of industries—including food service, manufacturing and hospitality—assists reducing maintenance response times, smoothing communications, reducing downtime and extending asset and equipment life, among other benefits. Compatible with mobile Android and Apple devices, the cloud-based app also supports multiple location operations, helps optimize asset use and surfaces real-time performance information.
Available features are plentiful, and, as with many CMMS platforms, additional products can be added. The CMMS’ functionality is easily extended with the addition of Enterprise Asset Management (EAM), Edge condition-based monitoring and DataHub asset data synchronization and analytics tools.
The UpKeep Maintenance platform includes three subscription options: Starter, Professional and Business Plus. The Starter plan—equipped with work order, inventory management, preventive maintenance and analytics and reporting—costs $45 per user per month, while the Professional version is $75 per user per month and adds advanced analytics and reporting, a requests portal and signature capturing. The Business Plus plan’s pricing varies depending upon the components needed but which can include workflow automation, reliability tracking, purchase order management, API access, multi-site modules and customizable dashboards.
UpKeep maintains a maintenance management app available in both the Google Play and Apple App stores. The firm states any browser is compatible but that its system tends to run best using Google Chrome.
Processes & Project Management
Software that assists process and project management is the lifeblood for many organizations, including those operating within the technology, manufacturing, construction and government sectors. Here are just a few popular cloud-based options.
ClickUp is a cloud-based app for businesses of all sizes and industries. The platform isn’t restricted to just project management functions. The app also includes components for managing tasks, assignments, communications and collaboration in addition to other responsibilities.
Documents, milestone setting and tracking, chatting and communications, task tracking and more are all included within the online platform. Competing with such solutions as Asana, Jira, Slack and Trello, ClickUp features include templates, broad integration support, customizable views and workflow automations.
Five ClickUp subscription plans are available: Free (which unsurprisingly costs nothing), Unlimited ($5 per user per month), Business ($12 per user per month), Business Plus ($19 per user per month) and Enterprise (for which pricing depends upon a number of factors). The Free plan is intended for personal use and includes 100MB storage, unlimited tasks and collaborative documents, among a host of other features. The Unlimited plan adds unlimited storage, integrations and dashboards, in addition to numerous other additions, while the Business Plus plan introduces team sharing, support for subtasks in multiple lists, custom roles and permissions and more. The Enterprise version adds white-label support, industry compatibility options and increased automations, as well as several other advantages.
Monday is a popular cloud-based app that works well whether assisting creative work, software development, marketing functions, sales and customer relationship management (CRM) functions, HR tasks, general operations or other needs. Monday’s Work Management platform, specifically, assists project, task and workload management and general operational processes, including supply chain management.
The software’s shared workspaces help eliminate communications issues and encourage collaboration and information flow. The program includes its own workflows designed to get users up to speed quickly, such as by choosing a template, adding specific items, customizing the corresponding project board, inviting members, integrating tools, automating work routines, addressing communication and tracking progress, for example.
Monday offers five subscription levels: Individual (free), Basic ($8 per user per month), Standard ($10 per user per month), Pro ($16 per user per month) and Enterprise (price varies). The Individual plan permits having up to two team members and 1,000 items and includes 500MB storage. The Basic plan provides unlimited free viewers, items and boards, as well as more than 200 templates and 20 column types, and adds use of its Android and Apple mobile apps, among other features, while the Standard plan adds timeline, Gannt chart and calendar views with other features. The Pro version adds private boards, time tracking and automations, and the Enterprise level permits enterprise-scale automations, multi-level permissions, enterprise-grade security, advanced analytics and reporting and dashboards with more features among its upgrades.
The Monday mobile app is available from the Google Play and Apple App stores. The big four browsers (Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari) are all listed as compatible on Monday’s website.
A cloud-based workflow automation solution, ServiceNow assists larger organizations in improving the efficiencies of daily operations, processes and workflows. The app is particularly helpful in that the platform automates many common repetitive tasks and routines. Highly customizable, the platform offers functionality covering a range of disciplines, including for educational institutions, energy and utility companies, financial services firms, government offices, healthcare and life science operations, manufacturers, retailers, service providers and technology concerns.
With nuanced and thorough capabilities for such a wide range of markets, ServiceNow’s feature list is lengthy. ServiceNow lists numerous latest innovations, including machine learning capabilities, an intelligent chatbot and configurable workspaces. The low-code platform permits customizing a wide range of industry-specific processes and workflows. Product and solution sets include IT service and operations management, human resources and staffing service delivery, customer service management, app and automation engines, asset management, compliance administration, procurement tracking and more.
Because the cloud-based app covers so many industries, components and customizations, pricing varies depending on multiple factors. However, the company provides custom pricing estimates that include detailed evaluations tailored to each organization’s unique needs, scalable solutions and flexible pricing.
ServiceNow maintains its Now Mobile app within both the Google Play and Apple App stores. The company says most major browsers are supported, including Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge and Apple Safari.
Wrike is a cloud-based project management app owned by Citrix. The platform services a variety of industries and firms of all sizes.
Targeting creative, engineering, general business, marketing, project management, professional services, software development, IT and other team needs, Wrike is a simple and flexible but powerful platform for enhancing project tracking, resource management, task administration and corresponding workflows and processes.
The platform offers dashboards, tagging, numerous integrations, proofing tools and charting capabilities. Other features include enterprise-grade security, preconfigured process templates and multiple support packages. Supported browsers include Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari.
Five Wrike subscriptions are available: Free (which is free), Team ($9.80 per user per month), Business ($24.80 per user per month) and Enterprise and Pinnacle (with pricing varying on multiple factors). The Free version includes web, desktop and mobile apps use and project and task management, board and table views and some task limitations, whereas the Team plan adds a host of capabilities, including support for two to 25 users, unlimited projects, tasks, subtasks, custom fields, request forms, dashboards, integrations and open API support, 2GB storage per user and more. The most popular Business plan adds support for up to 200 users, cross-tagging functionality, folder structure and nested projects, blueprints, automations, approvals, user groups and permissions and support for Adobe Creative Cloud extensions, among other capabilities. The Enterprise and Pinnacle plans add such capabilities as enterprise-grade security and advanced analytics.
The Wrike mobile app is available for both Android and Apple hardware. Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari are all supported browsers using Wrike.
Sales & Marketing
CRM systems play an important role managing and tracking customer status and interactions within all size organizations. Firms no longer need employ dozens or hundreds of sales and marketing personnel to justify investing in a corresponding management and administration portal. Some CRM and related systems support organizations with just a single member. Here are a few popular sales and marketing cloud-based options for organizations of all sizes.
HubSpot connects a firm’s marketing, sales, content management and customer service functions. Businesses can select from different hubs, or modules, matching specific needs. For example, tracks address such disciplines as marketing, sales, service, content management and operations. HubSpot’s subscriptions range from those for individuals and small teams all the way to large enterprises working within a variety of industries.
The company offers both Marketing and Sales Hubs. Depending upon subscription plan—HubSpot offers five Marketing Hub options beginning with a free Starter CRM version—the marketing platform provides form automation, mobile app use, landing pages, email health reporting, email reply tracking, a reporting dashboard, ad retargeting, conversational bots, assistance for multiple languages, email automation, search engine optimization (SEO) capabilities, website traffic analytics, ad management, Facebook Messenger integration and more.
The Sales Hub also consists of five subscription plans beginning with a Free Tools version. Sales Hub features, which vary based on the plan selected, include live chats, meeting and email scheduling, mobile app use, email tracking and notifications, Slack integration, custom properties, app marketplace integrations, a reporting dashboard, prospecting tools, conversation routing and various automations.
Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft Edge web browsers are compatible with HubSpot solutions, as is Apple Safari. HubSpot’s mobile apps are available for Android and Apple hardware users.
Salesforce offers a variety of cloud-based solutions, including both sales and marketing options, for use within numerous industries. In early March 2023, the company introduced Einstein GPT, a generative artificial intelligence (AI)-powered engine that assists CRM operations by automating custom customer responses and creating other personalized content to better streamline operations and enable employee productivity.
Salesforce Sales Cloud includes contact, opportunity, lead, forecast, data, activity and pipeline management, as well as sales automation features. Four Salesforce Sales Cloud subscription plans are available, beginning at $25 per user per month for an Essentials package. Professional ($75 per user per month), Enterprise ($150 per user per month) and Unlimited ($300 per user per month) plans are also available with additional features and components becoming available at greater scale as the subscriptions approach the enterprise level.
For marketing, organizations can select from a multitude of Salesforce cloud solutions, such as four different Small Business Solutions plans that begin with a $25-per-user-per-month Essentials version. Sales Professional $75 per user per month), Service Professional (also $75 per user per month) and Marketing Cloud Account Engagement (billed at $1,250 per month for use with up to 10,000 contacts) are the three other subscription versions within the Small Business Solutions platform. Depending upon the plan chosen, the CRM solution includes potent tools for creating, personalizing and fine-tuning marketing campaigns.
Numerous web browsers are compatible with Salesforce solutions, including Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari. The company also offers its Salesforce Mobile App for Android and Apple hardware users.
Begun from a small apartment in India in the 1990s, Zoho has become a platform businesses of all sizes operating within a variety of industries depend upon for managing CRM responsibilities. Many firms also tap Zoho for assistance fulfilling other functions (including desktop support, finances and staffing), as is often true for CRM platform vendors that also produce and maintain additional solutions servicing multiple industry segments and categories and often offer an immediate advantage due to their ability to purposefully integrate compatibility and cross-functionality.
Zoho CRM includes some newly introduced features, such as a threaded email view, additional fields for tracking and contextualizing sales processes and personalization touches to help customize customer portal invitations. As is expected, Zoho’s marketing solution includes a host of standard CRM capabilities, too. They include workflow automation tools, contact management features, analytics, predictive performance information, churn risk identification and lead and deal management capabilities designed to increase leads, better measure sales performance and improve overall sales. A Sales Process Builder is available to assist migrating offline workflows into the CRM platform, while processing rules assist assigning leads to the correct representatives and approving pricing information.
Like its competitors, Zoho supports multiple browsers, including Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari. The Zoho CRM mobile app permits remaining current with sales insights, recording customer updates and scheduling follow up tasks, among other functions, while working on the go and outside the office. The mobile app is available for Android and Apple hardware users.
There are four Zoho CRM subscription packages or a pair of bundles. The Standard plan costs $14 per user per month and includes sales forecasting, email insights, workflow rules and limited customization features, while the $23-per-user-per-month Professional version adds support for predefined automated macros, additional customization features and custom reporting, among other abilities. The $40-per-user-per-month Enterprise and $52-per-user-per-month Ultimate plans further increase features, including adding various analytics, multiple scoring rules to assist prioritizing records and setting up and sending automated replies.
Posting open positions, tracking applicants, managing hiring and onboarding and performing related tasks are among the critical components human resources staff fulfill. Software as a Service (SAAS) solutions are commonly employed to assist. Here are three popular such tools.
BambooHR is among the providers of cloud-based staffing management software that also offers companion payroll services, thereby enabling wrapping a multitude of traditional HR responsibilities within a single solution provider’s camp. However, there’s no requirement a staffing management app be paired with a payroll solution from the same firm. BambooHR, as an example, can be employed as a standalone app by companies of various sizes operating in different industries while using a different vendor to fulfill payroll services.
BambooHR’s platform assists creating standard recruiting, onboarding and offboarding workflows and approvals, tracking job board postings, generating email messages and offer letters, measuring employee satisfaction and creating employee directories and organization charts. Reporting, tracking training initiatives and maintaining employee records are other additional core functions the software fulfills.
Two BambooHR subscription plans are available. The Essentials plan includes such fundamental operations as employee records, standard reporting and analytics, time-off management, mobile app use (for Android and Apple hardware users), employee self-service features and email support. The Advantage version adds onboarding and offboarding capabilities, applicant tracking, electronic signatures, wellbeing surveys, training tracking, customizable reports and open API support. BambooHR pricing is available by contacting the company directly.
As with most cloud solutions, BambooHR is compatible with multiple browsers, including Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari. The mobile apps are available from within both the Google Play and Apple App stores.
Although JazzHR lacks a companion payroll engine, the software excels at surfacing qualified candidates and onboarding new hires. Commonly used by small and medium businesses within a variety of industries, the platform integrates well with a number of other popular HR tools to further extend those solutions’ reach. Among the supported integrations are ZipRecruiter, LinkedIn and Namely, to list but a few.
Specific JazzHR features include applicant tracking workflows, candidate messaging and personalization, real-time input collection from team members to assist collaborative hiring, compliance reporting, interview scheduling and synchronization, candidate assessment features and offer letter generation and corresponding electronic signature-enabled processes.
JazzHR is compatible with commonly used browsers, including Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari. Customers operate JazzHR using the cloud-based solution’s web interface, although they can also employ mobile device browsers to screen candidates and provide interview feedback. However, there’s no dedicated JazzHR app.
There are three JazzHR subscription plans. The Hero version ($49 per month) packs numerous capabilities, such as job board postings, customizable employment applications, new candidate alerts, applicant tracking and custom job workflow stages. The Plus subscription ($239 per month) adds employee referral support, interview and candidate assessment tools and reporting features. The Pro plan ($359 per month) adds compliance reporting, custom reports building, enhanced security features, Zoom integration and offer letter generation, among other elements. All three plans support unlimited users, but the Hero version is limited to managing just three open positions, whereas the Plus and Pro platforms support an unlimited number.
Namely is another example of a cloud-based staffing solutions provider that includes payroll administration as an optional service. Customers can elect to purchase just the firm’s staffing support platform, however. The Namely HR product offers a full complement of functions and corresponding add-ons.
Built specifically for midsize organizations with 25 or more employees operating in a range of industries, Namely offers onboarding and E-Verify integration, time off tracking, eSignature support, unlimited user roles and permissions, a mobile app, custom workflows and approval processes, open API integrations with numerous popular third-party platforms (including for 401k administration, applicant tracking systems and background check platforms) and directory capabilities. The platform also provides employee and manager self-service features and customizable profile fields.
While Namely does not publish pricing, the company maintains a pricing and packaging webpage that lists related information. That said, Namely pricing is reported to run around $16 to $24 per employee per month, but you should confirm that information when formally requesting a demo if your organization is exploring staffing software solutions.
A required HR Fundamentals package lists such necessary basics as onboarding, analytics, reporting, task management, eSignature and E-Verify services. The HR Complete package adds payroll and benefits administration components along with a recruiting platform. Enhanced Services are also available and provide the option of subscribing to managed payroll and managed benefits services.
The company’s mobile app is available for Android and Apple hardware users. While recommended web browser information is sparse, Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge are leading candidates for compatibility using Namely.
Managing and supporting an organization’s technology users is another challenge that’s only grown in importance as users have become increasingly dependent upon IT infrastructure. Subsequently, yet another technology—an IT management platform—is needed to track and service user technology needs. Here are three leading cloud-based solutions.
The Jira Service Management cloud app is an IT Service Management (ITSM) package that startups, small businesses, nonprofits and even enterprise firms employ to fulfill request tracking and asset, change, incident and problem management responsibilities. Regardless of the industry in which the customer works, Jira assists keeping everyone from software developers to operations staff to business personnel on the same page and working toward the same overall goals.
Note that many ITSM packages are assembled in bundles by collecting various components, or products, to meet a business’ unique requirements. Jira Service Management is specifically designed to assist technical staff in administering, managing and monitoring assets throughout an organization. Those customers seeking to integrate approval processes, capture and answer service requests using email, Microsoft Teams or even Slack and build a help desk solution can add Jira’s Halp platform to their mix. Additional costs, as is typical with the industry’s modular software approach, apply.
As is becoming necessary for most cloud apps, an IT management solution benefits when information from various platforms can be connected together to build a larger, compatible system that optimizes data collected and processed by different systems, locations and subsidiaries. Jira integrates with an almost bewildering array of third-party apps, including for monitoring systems, building and sharing workflows and messaging.
Jira offers four Service Management subscriptions: Free (which is just as it sounds, no charge), Standard (free for one year), Premium (an estimated $47 per agent per month) and Enterprise (for which the price varies depending upon features and number of agents needed). The Free version is limited, offering support for only three agents. The Standard plan, however, permits up to 5,000 agents, includes 250GB of file storage (versus just 2GB for the Free plan) and adds business hour support and unlimited email notifications (whereas the Free version limits email notifications to 100 per day and includes only community support). The Premium and Enterprise versions add advanced incident management, unlimited file storage, asset and configuration management capabilities and expanded support options for critical issues, as well as data connectors, enhanced analytics and security functionality with the enterprise plan.
Because IT asset monitoring and management quickly proves complex, trying to estimate monthly or annual costs is a challenge. Jira’s pricing calculator can assist.
Another concern is compatibility. The numbers and combinations of assets, manufacturers, models and software any organization possesses is often unique to each company. Numerous other add-ons, such as Atlassian Access, are available for purchase to better integrate and connect the IT management solution with a customer’s Active Directory infrastructure, for example. So plan on investing heavily in dependency research and confirming compatibility before committing to a Jira or other IT management platform solution to ensure the platform will work as intended for your firm.
SolarWinds Service Desk fulfills ITSM functions using an AI-powered and cloud-based strategy. The platform is appropriate for firms of all sizes operating in most any industry.
Starting at $19 per month per technician (SolarWinds provides concrete pricing via request), the service desk app includes incident, IT asset, change and problem management features. Other capabilities include an employee service portal, integrated knowledge base, Microsoft license auditing, benchmarking, dashboards, a new enterprise service desk component, procurement tools, service automation and automatic risk management notifications, among other capabilities.
The SolarWinds Service Desk includes a mobile app IT staff can employ to receive notifications and manage assets, incidents and tickets while away from their desk. The app is available for both Android and Apple hardware users.
SolarWinds’ cloud-based support desk software is Web Help Desk. The platform enables automating user service request response, automatically routing and escalating tickets and assisting end users in addressing common issues via an integrated knowledge base, among other benefits. The solution also offers the ability to integrate with existing Active Directory installations to better enable administration and support efforts.
Subscription pricing for Web Help Desk, which is a separate SolarWinds product from its service desk offering, begins at $410 per technician. A perpetual license is also available and starts at $821.
As with most cloud offerings, SolarWinds documentation states supported modern browsers include Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari. The mobile app can be downloaded from both the Google Play and Apple App stores.
One solution provider taking a slightly different approach to cloud-based IT service management is Zendesk, which includes a ticketing system within its Zendesk Suite (Zendesk for Service) offering. The company, in fact, provides a range of products targeting everyone from startups and small businesses all the way up to enterprise firms operating within any industry.
The entry-level Suite Team costs $49 per agent per month and includes a ticketing system, extensive communications (email, chat, voice and messaging among them), a help center, AI-powered bots, predefined analytics dashboards and automated responses. Custom workflow rules and digital onboarding support are also included with that edition, as is support for more than a thousand apps and integrations to assist leveraging data and information from tools and solutions already deployed within the customer’s organization.
The Suite Growth plan, the next step up, is $79 per agent per month. The upgrade adds support for multiple ticket forms, light agents, service level agreements (SLAs), customer satisfaction (CSAT) ratings and a self-service customer portal.
ZenDesk says its Suite Professional edition, at $99 per agent per month, is its most popular solution. The upgrade to the Suite Growth plan adds support for custom and real-time analytics, skills-based routing, HIPAA compliance and individual community forums.
The Suite Enterprise plan runs $150 per agent per month and rounds out the Zendesk Suite offerings. In addition to adding sandbox functionality, the enterprise edition permits creating custom agent roles, creating contextual workspaces and adding AI-powered content cues.
The four leading browsers—Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari—are all listed as compatible with Zendesk. The Zendesk Support mobile app, meanwhile, is available for technicians to respond to tickets using their Android and Apple smartphones and tablets.
Two cloud-based apps, in particular, provide a wealth of features across such a vast range of disciplines and address such a broad host of functions that they merit listing within their own Widescale Integration category. From email communications to online storage, from traditional office suite applications to collecting large sets of data and fulfilling related analytics and reporting functions, these solutions seemingly stand apart from other SAAS offerings targeting specific business operations segments. Here’s a brief breakdown of both competing solutions. These two platforms, with plans appropriate for organizations of all sizes operating in all industries, have grown to constitute industry standards.
Designed to assist and power the underlying infrastructure teams require to create, coordinate, collaborate, revise, track and produce, Google Workspace, once known as Google Apps, is a popular, widely used platform. Google Drive (secure cloud-based file storage and sharing), Docs (documents and word processing), Sheets (spreadsheets), Slides (presentations and sales decks), Forms (forms and surveys), Sites (low-code team portals), Keep (organizational notes), Meet (virtual meetings) and Jamboard (whiteboard) aren’t the only tools within the suite. The platform also includes numerous applications—including customized email services, data retention (Vault) capabilities, endpoint security administration functionality (Endpoint) and even deployment analytics (Work Insights)—ensuring the cloud-based solution is capable of servicing numerous needs.
Other add-ons, too, are available. Google Voice provides organizations with a cloud-based business telephone system that works with compatible desk phones as well as mobile devices and laptops. And AppSheet is Google’s no-code platform designed to permit regular users with little to no training create and enhance applications and operational processes, such as for approving purchase orders, automating common workflows and other purposes.
Google Workspace works well with the Google Chrome browser. Other compatible browsers include Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari. Mobile versions of numerous Google Workspace apps are also available for Android and Apple smartphone and tablet users, including the Gmail email client, Google Docs, Sheets and Slides.
Four Google Workspace plans are available: Business Starter ($6 per user per month), Business Standard ($12 per user per month), Business Plus ($18 per user per month) and Enterprise (custom pricing). Every Google Workspace plan includes Gmail, Drive, Meet, Calendar, Chat, Jamboard, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Keep, Sites and Firms.
The Business Starter plan supports email, meetings with up to 100 video participants, 30GB of storage per user, security and management controls and standard support. The Business Standard plan increases the video participant limit to 150 and adds recording capability, while also increasing storage per user to 2TB. The Business Plus plan adds eDiscovery and retention functionality for email, increases the meeting video participant limit to 500 and adds attendance tracking, while also boosting user storage to 5TB. Enhanced security is another Business Plus plan benefit. The Enterprise plan adds S/MIME email encryption, noise-canceling features for video meetings, live streaming capabilities and unlimited storage, among other benefits.
To say the Microsoft 365 service offering has changed the way businesses operate is no stretch. Formerly known as Office 365, the list of tools and services included within Microsoft’s offering is exhaustive. In addition to being able to bundle backend Exchange email services, firms can tap a Microsoft 365 subscription for extensive services, such as endpoint protection, appointment scheduling, advanced analytics, mobile security and Azure and Windows desktop custom cloud-based server and PC operations.
Depending upon the subscription plan, organizations receive cloud and desktop versions of the Word (documents and word processing), Excel (spreadsheets), PowerPoint(presentations and sales decks) and Outlook (email client) applications, among other features. Other available applications and services include OneDrive (secure file storage and sharing), OneNote (note taking), Teams (team collaboration and audio/video meetings), Lists (information tracking and automation component), SharePoint (team portals), Planner (team collaboration, file organization and visual task management), Power Automate (business process automation), Project (project management and tracking), Whiteboard (white boarding) and Yammer (team engagement).
Multiple Microsoft 365 plans and pricing are available. Customers can choose from individual subscriptions, business plans and enterprise versions.
The Microsoft 365 Business Basic plan costs $6 per user per month. The subscription includes web and mobile versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Teams, Outlook, OneDrive, SharePoint and Exchange. The plan’s attendee limit for chats, calls and meetings is 300, while each user receives 1TB of storage, business-class email, standard security features and anytime phone and web support.
The Microsoft 365 Apps for business subscription, priced at $8.25 per user per month, adds access to the desktop versions of the corresponding Microsoft apps, while the Microsoft 365 Business Standard plan costs $12.50 per user per month. That plan adds access to the desktop versions of the corresponding apps, too, but also includes attendee registration and reporting tools and the ability to manage customer appointments. At $22 per user per month, the Microsoft 365 Business Premium subscription adds advanced security controls, the ability to fine-tune access and data configurations and cyberthreat protections.
Larger organizations may wish to explore Microsoft’s enterprise plans. These subscriptions, such as the Microsoft 365 E3 option, are designed to address larger firms’ particular needs. At $36 per user per month, that plan includes a wealth of Microsoft 365 apps, email and calendaring services, meetings and voice functionality, device and app management administration tools, social and intranet components, file and content features and work management technologies designed to assist automating business processes.
The next plan up delivers even more enterprise-grade solutions. At $57 per user per month, The Microsoft 365 E5 plan adds advanced analytic capabilities and identity and access management controls.
Still other plans are available, as are numerous other add-on components. So be sure to study the ever-changing Microsoft 365 offerings carefully to ensure you’re selecting the best package and components matching your organization’s needs.
Regardless which plan you choose, Microsoft maintains numerous smartphone and tablet apps for Android and Apple hardware users, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook, but so, too, are other apps available for mobile use. Users can employ mobile versions of Teams, Planner, SharePoint and even a new Microsoft 365 app providing PDF creation and signing features and full document, spreadsheet and presentation functionality. All four major browsers—Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari—are compatible with Microsoft 365.
Despite this roundup’s relative length, other quality cloud-based apps are also available for managing the various business operations and disciplines businesses must administer every day. Selecting the solutions that will work best within your organization can be a formidable challenge, one Louisville Geek understands, having had to make difficult decisions ourselves as to which platforms to employ running our own operations.
Fortunately, Louisville Geek has almost two decades’ experience administering our own technologies, as well as knowledge and insight gleaned from deploying and managing numerous platforms and solutions for hundreds of other businesses over that same period. Contact us if you’re having trouble confirming your specific needs, selecting a solution or optimizing an investment you’ve already made.
We’re happy to help. You can call Louisville Geek at 502-897-7577 or by email [email protected].