It's widely accepted that the cloud can save a small business money, but it's not always obvious which applications to use.

By using cloud services for certain business functions, you can increase efficiency on top of cutting cash. So which are the best applications if you're a small firm?

Cloud CRM

CRM, otherwise known as customer relationship management, is tricky to get right, especially for newer businesses that don't yet have a huge customer base. Therefore, cloud-based CRM - which does it all for you - is the ideal solution.

That's because cloud CRM allows you to gain measurability on your marketing in an easy-to-use environment. The tool can be integrated into your back office system at little cost. Moreover, you can start simple and work up to a full-blown solution when you feel comfortable.

Cloud e-commerce

If you've got an online shop, a cloud-based e-commerce system could save a lot of hassle. A cloud-based solution will make selling online more efficient, giving you virtual storefronts, credit-card processing and essential security that you wouldn't necessarily be able set up on your own.

Using a cloud ecommerce solution will allow you to deal with one provider, so you don't have to waste time managing multiple vendors in order to keep the store running. It also means there is an expert at hand if you need any help.

Cloud HR

Despite its reputation as the most dreary part of the business, HR is re-inventing itself. On top of this, switching to cloud-based HR is actually easier within smaller businesses, since you already have the flexibility that larger enterprises often lack.

A good cloud computing HR system can be used for the entire recruitment process. These types of solutions can assign access depending on job role, to anyone in the company and let you see automatic cost comparisons of the best way to recruit.

Cloud-based HR systems remove the requirement for infrastructure, maintenance, and storage space. There's also no need for extensive training and expensive software.

Cloud accounting

The use of smartphones and tablets is seeing the rise of 'Bring Your Own Device' (BYOD), especially within small firms. Cloud accounting embraces this, allowing you to access data regardless of your location. You can check your outgoings regularly when you are travelling and assess changes from staff members on the go. Cloud accounting can also help you to manage banking transactions and run reports as well as tracking your expenses and sales.

Cloud collaboration

Cloud-based collaboration is a quicker and more efficient substitute for email that will suit many smaller firms. Collaboration in the cloud enables real-time interfacing, speeding things up without the lag time of email. Using cloud collaboration, large files can be shared online rather than clog up your inbox. It allows multiple users to share the same information, so it's an ideal way to communicate with external contractors.