One of the main concerns about working with a Virtual Assistant is that it might be expensive setting everything up. There are often visions of costly hardware and programs needed to be purchased before work can begin. But, thanks to the ‘cloud’ and the many options it provides, outsourcing your work to a Virtual Assistant doesn’t need to cost you anything in terms of set up fees, and could easily save you money in the long term.
What is ‘the Cloud’?
Cloud computing means storing and accessing data and programs online, over the internet, instead of on your computer’s hard drive. The ‘cloud’ is actually a metaphor for the internet – it harks back to the days of flowcharts when the internet would be pictured as a fluffy white cloud.
There are a variety of programs that are hosted on the cloud – from accounting packages to project management software. It means that anyone who has the log in details can access the information and complete the work necessary, making it extremely easy to outsource the work to a virtual assistant.
Let’s take bookkeeping as an example. Traditionally, you’d have to take your box of receipts, bank statements and various other bits of paper to your bookkeeper who’d work their magic on it all and return everything with a nice page of calculated figures to pass to your accountant.
Thanks to the cloud, that’s all changed. Using your mobile phone or tablet you can scan your receipts on to the cloud, using an app like Expensify, which turns it into an easy to read pdf file. With a cloud accounting package like Quickbooks (which is free for small businesses) or Xero, you can add an automatic bank feed which imports all of your transactions and create invoices. Meaning your Virtual Assistant can log in, when required, to tie everything together, reconcile against the bank feed and enter any receipts as needed.
The result? Less time getting everything together, less time spent by the VA or bookkeeper doing the work and the knowledge that you can log in and keep an eye on your accounts, and the work being completed on them, whenever you need to.
Virtually any administrative task can now be completed using the cloud, making it easier than ever to outsource those time consuming tasks.
For saving your documents and files on the cloud, you can use Googledrive and Dropbox. Both are free up to a certain amount of storage and simple to install and use. You can access them on most phones and tablets as well as your laptop or desktop computer, and you can choose who has access to your files and folders too. So much easier than trying to email things across or having to upload/download from a third party website!
From the perspective of a VA, project management programs like Todoist make it extremely easy to collaborate and outsource. They allow you to make lists of all the tasks that require doing, along with completion dates, highlighting urgent or important tasks and being able to add notes as required. As the work is completed, each task can be ticked off. It means you know how well your work is going and your Virtual Assistant knows what they need to be doing and when!
Cloud computing can sound scary if you’ve never used it before but really, it’s one of the easiest things to use and will save you a lot of time and money.