As a company that is 3 years old, we had systems challenges in the early days as we knew what we wanted to make the business slick, but it was financially outside of our grasp.
We started with Sage for accounting at £40 per licence and then the rest were all cloud applications, ranging from www.salesforce.com (£90 per user per year) to www.verticalresponse.com (pay as you go - pay per mail sent - about £20 for 5,000 emails I think) and google apps for business (£33 per user per year). These last 3 were pay as you go, no up-front balloon payments and you could cancel if you wanted out. The challenge was they did not talk to each other well and certainly evaded talking to Sage.
We went down the road of testing netsuite as we wanted an integrated cloud applications suite and we had to get rid of the 'software on your PC' Sage.
The result was that we kept salesforce and vertical response, added www.Xero.com for accounting (£19 per month - alternative is www.Kashflow.co.uk that many of our smaller web shop clients use) and bit by bit built the remaining cloud applications that are all integrated and accessible via the Web.
Server sales are booming as is development and availability of cloud applications, which is nothing but better and better news as prices drop and functionality increases. This in turn is enabling businesses, that could not previously afford these automated tools, to get right in the mix in the early days or their start-up.
Author: Jonathan Bellwood