• Get creative. Look for ways to use free or low-cost cloud tools instead of more-expensive ones, suggests Doerksen. For example, his team uses free Google Docs spreadsheets as a basic CRM system, rather than springing for a paid CRM cloud service.
• Evaluate more than one service before deciding. Most services offer a free trial, and "you can usually figure out in 10 minutes whether the service's user interface will drive you mad or is easy to use," says Rosenfeld.
• Consider open-source cloud services. This arrangement encourages third-party developers to build add-ons that make a cloud-based service even more feature-rich. Plus, it allows you to create your own tools for using the service that are unique to your business.
• Don't be afraid. It makes sense to cautiously approach any big change in how you do business, and this certainly applies to moving to the cloud. But many feel that the business world is already making the transition to cloud computing, and--given the lousy economy--now is a good time to make the transition.
"I can't think of any company that shouldn't try it," says Doerksen. "If you don't, you're missing out on an opportunity to prepare your business for the future."