It’s a rare business that can get by without using some kind of software these days. Even the last holdouts have equipped their offices with at least a computer and have grudgingly installed word processing and accounting software so employees can use it.
While this is an extreme example, there are several business owners out there who are wondering what types of software would be best for their business, or even if they should install anything beyond the most basic programs.
The attitude is unfortunate since the right software has the potential to significantly improve business operations, saving everyone time and money while making day-to-day workflow more efficient. If that sounds promising, here are some software programs you can consider getting.
1. Project Management software
Perhaps one piece of software that has the potential to completely revolutionize a business operation is project management software.
This software will help you keep track of the work your business is doing for clients. If you have had problems meeting promised deadlines, or suffer from scope creep, where the client keeps adding duties for you to perform, this software may help.
Most project management software will have a timeline feature that allows you to plot every employees’ role in getting the client’s project done. You can see what parts of the project are behind and take remedial action.
Many also have a billing feature that tallies the actual hours of work on a project, so that your invoices can more accurately reflect the resources that went into a project.
2. Customer Management software
Imagine you’ve given a company your business for several years, but whenever you call for service, they never seem to have your information handy or even seem to know that you regularly shop there. That’s likely because they do not have their customer records properly collated.
If you have this problem, there are several Customer Relationship Management or CRM options. Typically, CRMs help you organize data into demographics and buyer behavior allowing departments that deal with the customer to best target them with new products and services. This information can also form the basis of customer appreciation programs and events. Your customers will thank you for it.
3. Payroll software
Working out 401k and tax deductions from salaries is time-consuming, onerous and there is always the chance that a serious error could be made.
Business owners can make their lives so much easier with payroll software. What’s easier is that it comes in so many formulations. You can manage your payroll on a platform like this one from Zenefits, or you can choose an off-the-shelf software for installation on your office system. Either way, the benefits become immediately apparent when the employee payroll that used to take days to do, now only takes minutes.
4. Inventory software
For businesses that manufacture products as opposed to providing services knowing what inventory you have for sale and how many supplies you need to produce the desired amount of inventory is critical.
If the inventory is low, you won’t have enough products on hand to satisfy consumer demand. If the inventory is high, goods could remain on your hands for a long time. Your profits are reduced either way.
Inventory software helps you by integrating your ordering system, with your stock system, with your warehousing system, so you always know how much you need to produce, how much material you have to produce the items and how much space you have to store the items.
5. Communications software
Your business’ employees must be able to talk to each other easily across departments. Communications software allows them to do this. An example of communications software is web-based email. It allows everyone to send and receive messages.
The drawback here is that you may not have much control over it, as you do not own web-based email. As a business owner, you can hire an IT specialist to set up a special internal email system for you.
You can also purchase Instant Messaging (IM) software for internal use, or set up an internal system for your office.
6. Website Management software
There was a time businesses could have functioned without an online presence. That day has long gone. Your business needs to be on the Internet and one of the best ways to do this is through a website.
Website management software keeps your company site secure, optimizes the displayed content as well as collects valuable customer and traffic data.
No matter what business you’re involved in, it’s bound to be competitive. Give yourself an edge by adopting some of these software options.