The start of the New Year is a great time to evaluate whether or not your small business is using the tools needed to maximize your productivity and success. So if it’s been a while since you’ve given your chosen software tools a thorough examination, take a minute to determine whether the following tool type needs are being met within your organization:
Internal chat systems
Plenty of companies avoid internal chat programs out of concern that employees will abuse them and waste time while on the corporate clock. However, this narrow viewpoint misses out on many of the benefits that these tools have to offer.
Internal chat systems allow employees to share information effectively with minimal disruption to the work environment. Employees who actively use chat programs can provide information while on calls or in meetings, preventing disruptions in your office’s work flow. At the same time, internal chat systems allow employees to send valuable information at the touch of a button – minimizing the time needed to run messages across your office.
If you’re new to using internal chat systems, one of the best places to start out is HipChat, although Google Chat also provides a useful free alternative. Try one of these systems out and watch your team’s productivity skyrocket!
Document storage tools
Another concern facing many small businesses is the increasingly high cost of storing the vast number of digital files created by employees. Not only do internal file systems result in the extra expense of physical memory and the staff members needed to maintain these servers, files that can only be accessed from company computers prevent employees from taking part in desirable remote work arrangements.
The solution to all of these different issues is the transition to cloud-based document storage tools. Programs like Dropbox and Box.com offer extensive security protections that keep your files safe and accessible – often at a lower cost than internal storage systems.
Enterprise Q&A programs
Cloud-based information management programs are a relatively new addition to the world of modern business tools, though the impact they can make in operational efficiency make them worthy of a new look from small business owners.
Of particular interest to small business owners should be the latest series of Enterprise Q&A platforms, which enable employees to post questions and receive responses from others within the organization. This results in a number of different benefits, from the ability to remove gatekeepers and democratize the flow of information – while also ensuring that important internal processes are documented effectively to provide for business continuity.
Time tracking solutions
In today’s modern offices, traditional time tracking solutions have their limitations. Physical time clocks are easily manipulated and can’t be used by remote workers. But even traditional computer-based time tracking programs suffer from being both overly-complex for the needs of small business owners and too expensive compared to the features provided.
Fortunately, the Digital Age provides business owners with time tracking options that are both easy-to-use and affordable. Obviously, we’re partial to Yast, but you may also want to consider
Asure Force and AccountEdge, both of which offer different sets of workplace management features specifically tailored to small business owners.
Billing and invoicing software
One last type of small business software to consider upgrading at the start of the New Year is your company’s billing and invoice program.
In the past, the nature of desktop software development meant that few competitors entered this space, given the cost of creating fully-fledged financial systems and the dominance of established names like Quicken. However, the rapid expansion of cloud-based software opportunities has opened up this once-closed market, allowing new vendors to enter the field with lighter, more specialized financial tools.
For this reason, many small businesses wind up paying for software features they don’t need – simply because they’ve bought into the myth that you need an expensive financial program for their relatively limited billing and invoicing needs. If you find your company in this situation, take a look at the cloud-based programs offered by Freshbooks and ZOHO Invoices. For our Norwegian readers (the ones above does not fit the requirements according to Norwegian law), we use Nettfaktura.net
Although the process of transitioning from traditional software programs to cloud-based alternatives might sound needlessly complex, the resulting cost-savings and organizational simplicity often make the change well worth it for small business owners.