SimplifyThis helps entrepreneurs and freelancers save time by automating invoicing and scheduling with our Web based software. If you are new to the concept of automation, read on. Below is an overview of some basic software packages most small businesses can benefit from. With a bevvy of software available, this isn’t everything a business can use, but the most basic software packages most need.
The Pros of Automation Products
Owners of small businesses all across the country, no matter what services and products they are offering have the same problem: all the time that you as a business owner would like to devote to developing the business to the next level is filled up with those mundane daily tasks that multiply and eat away at the owner’s time. It’s not to say that these tasks are unimportant; rather, this work is vital to the operation of the business.
One solution is office automation software that turns minor repetitive tasks from items that fill the day into tasks that are done successfully in the blink of an eye. It’s not a matter of spending vast amounts of cash for the latest technology. It’s more the development of an automation plan that will make office work easier, quicker and much more efficient.
If you need a few more reasons why it’s worth investing a few dollars in office automation products for your small business, here’s a short list:
- There’s more time for the owner to focus on those high-priority plans and projects that will bring a greater return and a higher rate of growth to the business, such as making alliances with other businesses, creating focused business plans and imagining new products and services.
- You can delegate simple tasks which, without office automation, are time-sinks for managers and owners because of inefficiencies in the process.
- You can eliminate repetitive redundant tasks that can take up to 80% of the work-day of staff and managers and that add nothing to the bottom line.
- You can standardize the office’s work processes so that staff can work where needed.
- Training for staff is easier because of standard training programs for new and existing staff that can quickly bring all workers up to speed on the office automation processes being used
Once you’ve committed to an office automation plan for your small business, then you can pick out the software programs that will accomplish the goals outlined in your plan. One criteria that must be paramount when picking out software is the complexity of operation. If the software makes the task more complicated, then it’s not the right choice. There are four areas you’ll want to consider
Office Task Automation
You’ll want a suite of programs that will work well together and that will let you transfer the information contained in one type of function easily to another function. For example, you’ll want to move transparently from word processing to spreadsheet accounting to document publishing to the slide presentations for customers.
This type of program integration is common in many of the office software suites available today. The most popular choice is Microsoft Office Professional 2010, which includes the following software packages, each of which can be used separately or in conjunction with each other:
- MS Word for word processing
- MS Excel for numerical calculation and summaries
- MS Access for databases
- MS PowerPoint for visual presentations
- MS Outlook Client for email
- MS OneNote for internal office communication
- MS Publisher for document publishing
Besides the hardware requirements of an office for reliable power through an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) and for a reliable secure network through a firewall, a small business needs a software package that can detect and remove computer viruses and other malware from the business computers and network.
Spyware can be installed surreptitiously on office computers that could reveal your company’s secrets to your competitors. Protection of the company’s web site is also necessary. The best software of this type offers options for filtering the network and for updating the signatures used to detect malware.
McAfee, Norton and Symantec all offer excellent packages for detecting and removing malware, along with additional modules for website monitoring.
Managing Customer Relations and Sales
A contact management system is a vital component for a company’s sale force to track the progress of an initial contact from a prospective customer to an actual sale. Besides keeping track of customers, this type of software is also useful for managing sales staff.
One major criteria is the ability of the contact management software to integrate easily with the company’s e-mail system and to allow import of data from other software. Outlook’s Business Contact Manager an Act! Pro from Sage are popular choices.
Small Business Accounting
Small business accounting greatly benefits from software. Both data entry and report production are greatly simplified. Depending on what software you select, you can also get tools that help you with your payroll and with state and federal tax collections and reporting–from our own invoicing software to Quickbooks and TurboTax–there is a range of software for this important business function.
Author Bio: Rachel B. is a freelance writer for an auto insurance website. She writes about ways to save money on business car insurance by comparing quotes online.