Operating a small business requires devoting your time to many different tasks, from sales and accounting to daily administration. Keeping up with the workload can be a huge burden for entrepreneurs with limited staff. Fortunately there are many software tools available to streamline, organize, and even integrate different business roles and processes. Here are four that every growing company should consider essential.
Customer Relationship Management
CRM solutions allow you to store, track, and organize your customer information. Details such as contact information, service histories, transactions records, and even notations or advise can be added or edited for every customer you have on record. Centralizing this data provides an in-depth profile so that customer-facing employees such as sales or customer service can call up the information and see at a glance who they’re dealing with. This includes what the customer’s preferences are and other insights to create a smoother, more rewarding experience for both parties.
The information can also be used for reporting or integrated into business intelligence to provide analytic insights for marketing, customer acquisition, and customer retention.
Point of Sale
POS systems are important for any retailers, but also for companies who have sales people, service agents or consultants in the field authorized to accept payments. POS technology is basically a high-tech, convenient cash register, but benefits your company in many ways. POS systems are designed to upload transaction data directly to computer systems, so that you can monitor sales activity in real time, or later analyze sales histories down to specific products, locations, timeframes, or sales people with little effort.
With the rise of smart phones, mobile payment apps allow your field staff to utilize the same activity. This saves your company time and money over traditional manual sales data collection. Automated receipts and expedited payments are also conveniences the customer will appreciate.
Enterprise Resource Planning
ERP solutions allow you to do material and equipment management reliably. Many systems include a range of functions, such as inventory control, automated materials ordering, reporting, analysis, allocation, and scheduling. ERP systems can be used to manage a single warehouse and production system, or multiple locations over the cloud. They can also integrate with mobile apps so that your sales people, delivery drivers, or job estimators working in the field can utilize ERP over the cloud. They can also work with vendors to monitor pricing and lead times.
ERP, in effect, lets you monitor every aspect of your logistics to save costs, shorten lead times, support collaboration, adhere to regulatory compliance, forecast material usage, and other benefits that improve efficiency and increase your competitive edge.
Business Mobile App
In today’s technologically advanced world, no business is complete without a mobile app. Having an app instantly increases your customer base to those consumers who prefer to complete all their transactions on their mobile device. It also provides instant advertising when you make your app available for download. If you’ve never had an app before, it would definitely be a good idea to work with a professional to make sure it is well-designed and intuitive. The consumers who will be most attracted to being able to access your business on mobile will also be the ones who will be most concerned with ease of use, so it’s imperative that the two go hand in hand.
If you are thinking that your business would not benefit from a mobile app, remember that today even banks and credit unions have mobile applications. Nearly every business imaginable will benefit from getting on mobile, and it’s very likely that yours is no exception.
Growing business are bound to be engaged in many projects, such as installing new machinery, improving layouts for greater efficiency, or developing new software systems or projects. All of these, and essentially any business function or changes, are managed more efficiently with project management software. Usually, project management solutions are handled by a project manager, or PM. The PM is responsible for developing time tables, providing labor, tools, and materials in the right time and place, and meeting stated requirement while coming in on time and under budget.
You can make this complex and demanding role easier for your company with software. PM programs allow different aspects of the project to be designed and monitored from one central solution. The data that results can also be used to suggest improvements and insights into later projects. Choosing the software packages for your business needs creates a work environment that’s more productive and coordinated. They help to reduce errors and improve productivity. While cost and training requirements are also considerations, integrating powerful software tools into your activities is a smart investment.