As any small business leader can attest, there are always more tasks to do in a day than time to do them. When you’re pursuing ambitious business goals with a small team, you need to make the most productive use of everyone’s time.
Fortunately, in the last five years, there has been an explosion of apps, tools, and software that can help small businesses thrive. Whether you need to keep tabs on clients or better manage your workforce, there’s likely a tech solution to meet your needs. Here are three key areas where you can use tech to make your business more productive.
1. Human Resource Management Software
Employees are the backbone of your business. While you couldn’t do without them, the time spent managing HR tasks on the day-to-day is considerable. On the front end, there’s the endless emailing, phone calls, and interviewing associated with recruitment. Once you’ve found your perfect candidate, there are offer letters to write and first-day paperwork to complete.
HR software can take much of this manual labor out of your hands. From offer letter templates to onboarding checklists, such systems automate much of the work HR professionals once did on a per-employee basis. Better still, these platforms let new hires do their own onboarding, from signing tax forms to enrolling in a SEP IRA plan. This approach gives new hires a sense of control and allows them to focus on higher-value tasks.
Hard-working employees occasionally want to take time off, and an HR platform helps here, too. Instead of staff having to field endless queries about vacation days remaining and track employees’ paid time off, the system lets employees self-serve. They can see at a glance how much PTO they have left and request time off as applicable. Once their manager approves the request, their upcoming absence is automatically recorded in the company calendar, enabling better team-wide planning.
2. Customer Relationship Management System
As important as employees are, you wouldn’t have a business for long if you don’t have customers. Attracting leads and turning them into customers is what your marketing and sales teams are there for. Sure, they can stow leads in an email marketing tool and store customer data in spreadsheets. But it doesn’t take long for that inefficient system to develop cracks.
That’s why CRM software is now an essential part of every small business. Its main job is to centralize and streamline all interactions with customers and potential customers. A good CRM will give your team instant access to everything they need to know about your clients. This will help them build relationships, meet deadlines, customize marketing messages, send invoices, and much more.
Imagine that your customer looks at various items on your website. The CRM can track what they have viewed and feed this information to your marketing team, who can use it to craft relevant messaging. Feeding the same information to the sales team will enable them to contact the prospect with attractive offers. By centralizing customer data, the CRM can help smooth the customer journey and increase sales.
3. Cloud Document Storage
Speaking of centralized data, if you haven’t yet moved your document storage to the cloud, it’s time to get with the program. Too many small businesses still keep their most important documents on hard drives or large owned servers. These live somewhere in the deepest depths of the office, occasionally visited by a staff member to make manual backups using an external drive. That drive is then at risk of being damaged or lost.
With the wide availability of cloud storage choices and declining prices, now is the moment to switch to cloud storage. When documents are stored on the cloud, they are accessible anywhere at any time. That’s especially important these days, as the remote work ushered in by the pandemic shows little sign of abating. Rather than asking in-office colleagues to email them the latest marketing report, remote workers can call it up themselves. Instant access to the information they need enables more efficient work.
When you move document storage to the cloud, you also no longer have to maintain servers. This means you don’t have to devote space to them that could be used more productively. More importantly, it means your important data isn’t at risk of location-based threats, whether it’s that lost external drive or a flood in your office. Documents stored on the cloud are backed up instantly, keeping them continuously up-to-date.
With cloud storage, you have further reassurance that your data is being safeguarded by cybersecurity pros. Cloud storage providers know who is allowed to access which data and for what purpose. They can send immediate alerts when unauthorized users are attempting to access your data or the data is being used in an unusual manner. With cloud storage vendors in charge of data security, your in-house IT staff can help you focus on other business goals.
With the abundance of software tools and apps out there, the options can seem never-ending. Where there is a choice, though, there is opportunity. Whatever your company’s productivity pain point, there’s almost certainly a tech remedy for it.
Most of the solutions above will offer free trials to help you find the tools that best satisfy your needs. They also offer hands-on help from specialists to get you up and running quickly. You might just find that these solutions pay for themselves in short order. You and your increasingly productive team will wonder how you ever managed without them.
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