How to Increase Your Business Profit by Leveraging SoftwareDonna Marie Padua
Information technology can be an effective way to make your company more productive and profitable.
Whether it’s integrating your processes, enhancing your marketing abilities, better managing receivables or improving supply chain management, the right technology can dramatically improve how you run your business.
While technology often requires a significant investment, the long-term advantages usually far outweigh the initial costs.
Here are several commonly used tools to boost a business’s bottom line.
Accounting systems can help you keep track of all your transactions, billing and general ledger like the MYOB software that you can find on Softvire.
For most businesses, basic business accounting software will probably meet your needs. If you do business in more than one country, or if you want your accounting system to integrate with functions other than accounting, then you might require more complex, higher-end systems.
Supply chain management
Supply chain or inventory management software helps you automate your processes and track information about orders and deliveries. This helps you forecast supply and demand more accurately and ensure that your inventory can cover client orders.
Other benefits include reducing errors by automating transactions, speeding up deliveries to customers, reducing warehouse space requirements through improved inventory control and decreasing administrative costs by introducing automated systems.
Advanced systems can integrate with your accounting and invoicing systems so that all your systems use the same set of data. Using bar codes can speed up your data entry, but more and more companies are now using radio frequency identification (RFID) to automatically track their products using sensors throughout the supply chain.
Customer relationship management
Customer relationship management (CRM) software improves your insights into customer needs and behavior as well as the management of your relationships with clients.
Benefits include an improved ability to anticipate clients’ needs based on historic trends, targeted marketing that reaches specific audiences and increased sales through better client relationships.
Human resources management
Electronic HR systems can help you manage your personnel records, automate your payroll and benefits and help you schedule your employees. These applications can also help with recruiting and retention strategies as well as with employee development.
Enterprise resource planning
Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems are a suite of integrated applications that allow companies to automate, manage and analyze many of its business processes.
Company activities that are typically covered by such a system include:
- sales/marketing/client management
- inventory control
- human resources
Because ERP systems offer different levels of sophistications and features, many entrepreneurs end up frustrated with their ERP.
Before you invest in an ERP system, it’s important that you create a detailed list of your requirements and shop around for the right system for your needs. Consider getting the help of a consultant to guide your system selection process.
Enterprise social networks and collaboration platforms
Enterprise social network platforms and collaboration platforms help employees engage with one another, collaborate and exchange information. This, in turn, allows them to be more productive and innovative.
However, for these systems to be used and effective, company leadership need to take the lead in showing their value.
Office Suite can help you fulfill almost any admin task
If you’re a small business owner, Office 365 could be the integrated business suite you didn’t realize you needed. Many businesses already use Microsoft Office’s flagship applications like Word, Excel and PowerPoint every day.
Whether you’re tracking financial records in Excel, writing a blog article in Word, or building a sales deck in PowerPoint, these tools help you perform your job better.
Office 365 combines a number of different cloud applications and services into one subscription-based model. From email and data management to communication and file-sharing, there are several ways that Office 365 can help your small business grow.
The available applications and services will depend on the Office 365 small business plan you select. Below are some of the current applications and services available with Office 365.
Microsoft Word is a word-processing application that allows users to create various documents. Microsoft Word is also known as MS Word or, simply, Word. Small businesses can use Word for anything from copywriting to creating restaurant menus — it’s truly the most versatile and renowned word processors available.
Microsoft Excel (or just Excel) is a dynamic and powerful spreadsheet program. Excel lets users store, track and manage large and small datasets. Small businesses can use Excel to manage their bookkeeping or to track monthly sales numbers.
Microsoft Outlook is an email and contact management application. Outlook users can send and receive emails from their Microsoft account within the application, and small businesses can also use the calendar application within Outlook to schedule meetings or share calendars with other team members.
PowerPoint is a presentation program that lets users create and share dynamic presentations and slideshows. Small businesses can use PowerPoint to create marketing materials or engaging presentations for public speaking events or sales meetings.
Microsoft Publisher is an easy-to-use graphic design application. Publisher users can create layouts and customize designs for print or digital media. While not the most powerful graphic design application on the market, small businesses can use Publisher to create logos, business cards, newsletters, or coupons, among other things.
OneDrive is Microsoft’s user-facing cloud-storage platform. Microsoft users have free access to a limited amount of storage space on OneDrive — however, if you purchase Office 365, it comes with additional storage space. Small businesses can upload, access and share a number of different files with OneDrive.
SharePoint is a collaborative, document-sharing platform. SharePoint is mainly used to share documents and reports within an organization. Small businesses can use SharePoint as an intranet for storing and communicating important information.
Microsoft Teams is a digital workspace designed to streamline communication and project management. With dynamic tools like individual and team chats, voice and video calls, and real-time file collaboration, Microsoft Teams aims to solve some of the communication gaps that exist within organizations.
Microsoft Invoicing is an application that lets users easily create and manage invoices. Small businesses can create itemized invoices, send them to customers, and track them as paid through the web-based or mobile application. Microsoft Invoicing can also sync with QuickBooks to streamline your financial recordkeeping.
Microsoft Bookings is a professional-looking web-based scheduling software. Rather than dealing with the back-and-forth of phone scheduling or emails, Bookings lets users set appointments through a completely customizable web page.
When a schedule is made, it notifies all parties, gets added to your calendar, and sends reminders before the meeting. Small businesses can use Bookings to simplify appointment management and provide an added sense of professionalism.
Outlook Customer Manager
Outlook Customer Manager is a CRM add-in for Outlook. Rather than using an external CRM solution, small businesses can keep their communication and customer data centralized in one place.
Outlook Customer Manager enables small businesses to organize customer notes, calls, emails, deals and deadlines within the Outlook interface. Users can also share consumer information with other team members.
Office 365 also offers MileIQ, which is a mobile application that tracks and organizes your traveling.
This mileage-reporting tool helps small businesses and solopreneurs manage their travel records for tax purposes.
If you want to take advantage of automobile deductions on your business taxes, then the MileIQ application is a wise investment.
What are the benefits of Office 365 for small businesses?
There are many benefits of using Office 365 for your small business. While it might take some time for you and your employees to get familiar with the different applications and services, you can save substantial time and money in the long-run.
Here are five of the main reasons your small business should consider using Office 365.
It’s controlled by Microsoft
One of the main value propositions to Office 365 is that all the applications are controlled by one entity — Microsoft, a staple in the technology space. They are constantly adding features and launching new applications for businesses.
Moreover, because all the applications exist within the same suite, they interact incredibly well with each other. You don’t have to use additional tools or services like Zapier to connect your different applications.
Also, unlike other business management startups, Microsoft will not suddenly disappear. If you build processes and workflows on Office 365, you can rest assured that they will continue to be there as long as you need them.
It enhances flexible work environments
Flexibility is a common theme in the modern workplace— for large and small businesses. The traditional 9-to-5 in a cubicle is losing ground to the more agile and flexible work structure.
Office 365 allows small businesses to create a flexible culture that allows team members to dictate when and where they work.
Because Office 365 is cloud-based, users can work simultaneously on the same document across the world. As long as your employees have internet access, Office 365 can connect your office from anywhere.
It improves collaboration and internal communication
As you can tell, collaboration is one of the major selling points to Office 365. The ability to easily share and co-author documents in real time offers a seamless solution to team projects.
Avoid the hassle of sending static files or documents via email and take advantage of the collaborative tools within Office 365.
Team communication is also improved thanks to applications like SharePoint and Teams.
Microsoft Teams is designed specifically to make internal communication easier.
For instance, team members can create topic-or-client-specific chats that help organize all internal communication and files related to that topic or client in one place.
It elevates your client relationship management (CRM)
If you’re still wondering about the benefits of Office 365 for small businesses, remember lead management and client relations are vital to success — and Office 365 has tools designed to elevate your CRM.
Effective CRM starts with data-management.
Small businesses need to track and measure the profitability of their client base.
Excel, in particular, can help small businesses analyze critical data related to their consumers.
External communication is also a critical piece of the CRM puzzle. There are several features within Office 365 that help small businesses communicate with leads and customers. For instance, the Customer Manager add-on for Outlook centralizes your contact information in one place to make it easy for you and your employees to see critical notes and previous conversations.
It adds professionalism to your small business
Small businesses have plenty of things to worry about— looking professional shouldn’t be one of them. Office 365 can help your small business appear bigger thanks to the professional-looking features with which it’s equipped.
Office 365 from GoDaddy comes with a free business email using your domain name. This helps you avoid the dreaded @gmail.com or @hotmail.com email address.
You can also create beautiful web-based schedulers with Microsoft Bookings that sync directly to your contacts. This is a subtle but powerful way to add an extra layer of professionalism and efficiency.
Finally, you can use Microsoft Invoicing to create and track branded invoices with ease. These simple features go a long way in improving the appearance of your small business.
As you can tell, Office 365 is a powerful and versatile productivity solution for small businesses. The question you need to address now is:
“What Office 365 plan makes the most sense for my business?”
The answer to that question will depend on several variables, such as your industry and workflow, the size of your company, and the resources you already have in place. To help decide which Office 365 plan is right for your small business, consider the three different plans below:
Online Essentials is the most cost-effective version of Office 365 available, which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote online only. Businesses also get 1 TB of secure online storage via OneDrive and 50 GB of storage for emails, contacts and calendars.
Because Office 365 is cloud-based, any emails or calendar changes update in real time and files created online and uploaded to OneDrive can be accessed and edited on any device — including smartphones, tablets and computers.
If your business wants to get started with Office 365 and doesn’t need to access Office offline, the Online Essentials plan might be the perfect plan for you.
A step above Online Essentials is Business Premium Office 365 plan, offering the best value for small businesses. The Business Premium plan includes everything in the Online Essentials plus:
- Users can download the Office suite on up to five PCs or Macs for offline use.
- Access to additional productivity apps like Microsoft Teams, Microsoft Invoicing, Bookings, Outlook Customer
- Manager, MileIQ and other business apps.
- Office applications update automatically when new features are launched.
- Users can download the mobile Office application and create, change and share files and documents from their smartphone.
- The ability to send up to 10 documents at a time to be signed using DocuSign — there are no limits to signed documents, just outstanding signatures.
- HIPPA-compliant email eligibility.
If you’re looking for an integrated solution that can increase productivity across your small business, the features and management tools available in the Business Premium plan could be the right choice.
Above the Business Premium plan is the Premium Security Office 365 plan, which includes everything in the Online Essentials and Business Premium plans plus:
- Advanced email security with compliance and encryption for all your mailboxes in your organization.
- Additional security and compliance with email archiving features on your mailboxes.
If you’re worried about phishing or sophisticated malware, the Premium Security plan could provide the added level of protection that you need.
Before you invest in any of these technologies, do a careful assessment of what’s available to determine which systems are best suited to your company. Most of the time, you should be able to find industry-specific solutions.
All of the above tools are readily available today and are affordable for small and medium-sized businesses. Each product and vendor has its strengths and weaknesses. Some systems provide rich industry-specific functionality but lack fundamental features. Others provide a broader feature set that can be customized to meet the needs of different businesses and industry requirements.