No IT? No offices? No problem for this virtual firm

By , Network World |  Cloud Computing, Google Apps, project management

Gurnet also helps write RFPs, choose vendors and formally assure that projects will be completed successfully, then helps the client bring the newly completed projects into routine use.

That range of work requires a lot of collaboration and a pragmatic way to achieve it and keep it organized. That pragmatic approach embraced cloud services, and will likely result in expanded cloud services, he says.

For example, currently the firm uses spreadsheets to correlate data about skills needed by clients that is housed in Salesforce.com with data about job candidates that resides in Jobscience. The spreadsheets work, but creating them is a time-consuming manual process.

As the firm grows, that process will become too big a burden. The solution will likely be upgrading Salesforce and Jobscience licenses so the two services can be integrated. "That will mean exponentially higher license fees, but it's better than buying server and having to maintain them," he says.

It helps too that Google Apps, Salesforce and Jobscience all offer limited free services or trials that are attractive financially, and they promote experimentation with new ways of doing things. Because they are cloud based, trials can be set up quickly with no infrastructure demands on Gurnet, King says. "We can do rapid prototyping and make a call on it pretty fast," he says. A three-month free trial of Yammer, for instance, led to the Gurnet purchasing the service.

While he likes the flexibility and economy of cloud services, he does worry some about availability. But he has faith in the providers, taking their size and popularity as indicators they deliver highly reliable services. "We're playing with the big boys in the industry so I'm not too worried about it," he says.

Putting these cloud-based collaboration tools in the hands of his consultants and the ease of use of the applications has provided good results, although they are not always predictable.

Yammer serves to share personal information among the consultants in order to create a closer social bond. King, for example, posted family photos from his Fourth of July vacation.

But it is also used to share ideas and issues consultants face when working on client problems. They see each other's posts and comment, sometimes generating ideas that result in effective professional strategies.


Originally published on Network World |  Click here to read the original story.
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