More and more small businesses are choosing to run their business in the cloud. And it’s for good reason. Teams can work more collaboratively simply by having access to software and data hosted online.

However, finding the right cloud-based solution can be quite an undertaking.

Almost every software market is ripe with a number of young cloud providers. While features and functionality might seem similar, there are a handful of other factors worth considering.

If you’re shopping for a particular cloud-based system for your business, keep the five points below front-of-mind when weighing your options:

1. Their system is strong and stable

When we say “cloud,” we’re really referring to remote servers that host software and data.

If your cloud provider’s servers malfunction or the wrong people get access to it, big problems can arise. So be sure to select a provider that has the right systems in place to keep everything running smoothly. Here are some specific points to look into:

  • Security: Password strength requirements, user authentication, and security questions are good signs that the cloud provider cares about protecting their users.
  • Data encryption: If hackers gain access to your data, it’s tough for them to make use of it if it’s encrypted.
  • Backups: Your cloud provider should regularly backup your data, so it doesn’t disappear in the event of server failure.
  • Disaster recovery: The unforeseen happens. Smart cloud providers have servers located around the globe, so if a catastrophic event occurs in one location, backup servers will take over.

2. The company itself is financial healthy

Since the cloud is fairly new technology, most providers are newer companies. But implementing a cloud system can be labor-intensive and is likely a process you won’t want to repeat. Be sure to select a company that is going to be around for the long-haul.

Additionally, there will be times you’ll rely on your cloud provider for support and training, so it’s important that they have invested in customer support resources.

3. The software is accessible across devices and operating systems

Almost every business is made up of people with different technology preferences. Some folks prefer to use the latest version of the iPhone and iPad, while others lean towards Android or Windows devices.

An advantage of the cloud is that it is accessible on mobile devices — so be sure to select a cloud provider that has built apps for all the major operating systems.

4. They offer great customer support

It may not seem important during the research process, but you’ll value great support once you get going in your new cloud solution.

You can get a sense of a company’s reputation among its customers by reading online reviews and browsing relevant forums. In fact, many cloud software providers have their own online communities where users interact and share their experience. If a company representative is chiming in and responding to complaints, it’s likely the provider takes customer support seriously.

5. The servers maintain a good uptime

The percentage of time servers are online and accessible to users is known as “uptime.” In a perfect world, your cloud provider would have a 100% uptime. But generally anything above 99.95% is acceptable. That equates to less than an hour of server downtime each year, which demonstrates the company acts quickly when problems do occur.

Selecting the right cloud provider for your business can be an endeavor but it’s much less challenging when you know what to look for.

Check out Xero’s guide on selecting a cloud provider to learn more.