5 Types of Software Solutions Needed to Streamline Your Business
While each business has unique processes and challenges, almost all companies can benefit from taking advantage of modern software solutions. There is an endless range of software programs available that can allow you to bolster your operations in different ways.
When you choose software for your business, you can increase productivity, boost profits, and even improve employee retention. Remember that when you improve efficiency, you free up your time to focus on refining your business strategy – which is crucial.
In this post, I’ll take a closer look at how software solutions can benefit your business, and will share specific examples of software that can solve common business-related issues.
How You Use the Software Matters
It’s not enough to simply invest in software applications and programs – you must know how to take advantage of the benefits and learn how to use the software appropriately!
If you want to get the most out of software programs, take time to educate yourself about them, and ensure that each employee is well-versed in using them as well.
What I’ve Learned from Failed Implementations
When you spend time, energy, and money implementing the use of a software application, you expect only a positive outcome. However, there can be times that these implementations result in wasted resources. Although it may be easy to blame the software, the problem often lies in how the company utilized it.
In my experience, I’ve seen that at times solutions can be too complicated for the company, or weren’t tailored to the company’s needs. In other cases, the entire team wasn’t thrilled about the implementation and didn’t put forth a whole-hearted effort to make it work. One or more of these factors can lead to poor results, or no results at all.
Procedures Are a Key Part of Preparation
Any time you implement a new program or application, it’s essential that the entire team understands how to use it. It isn’t enough for one or a few people to be experts. One of the best ways to ensure that everyone is on the same page regarding the use of the software is to document the proper steps. Documentation is an essential step in compiling a list of common steps that the entire team can use for effective operation.
Developing procedures through documentation can be time-consuming when done from scratch. Thankfully, there are software solutions that can assist with this process. For example, StepShot records all the necessary steps, and helps you to create the procedural process in a written format. This robust tool can help you maximize the benefit of other software programs that may be essential to your team’s productivity.
5 Types of Software Solutions That Boost Efficiency
When researching software solutions for your small business, understand that there are five primary categories of efficiency-producing programs. These categories each work in different ways.
Understanding their differences and exploring your business’s unique needs can help you determine which programs you should consider.
1. Customer Support and Helpdesk Solutions
From the initial contact you have with your customers, you must build and maintain a great relationship with them. By putting a focus on customer relationships, you can ensure that they become loyal patrons and refer other customers to you, just to name a few examples.
To achieve this, consider customer support and helpdesk solutions that provide the following benefits:
- Around-the-clock support and assistance.
- Faster response times.
- Detect support issues quickly and resolve them efficiently.
- Prioritize and delegate support requests.
- Measure and analyze support responses.
- Track support requests and correspondence in a central location.
- Create automatic responses to let customers know that you received their request.
Below, you’ll find examples of this type of software solution.
- A cloud-based platform.
- Has an intuitive interface with a mailbox-like design.
- Easy ticket assignment, management, and real-time tracking.
- Simplification of cross-department projects.
- Measures customer satisfaction.
- Provides automation for notifications, ticket assignments, and escalating issues.
- Ability to monitor interactions, including chats, email, phone logs, and social messages.
Other Notable Solutions:
2. Internal Communication Solutions
While external communication with customers is essential, internal communications are equally critical. Poor communications in-house can create confusion, inefficiency, low morale, reduced productivity, and other issues.
Through good internal communication, you and your team can benefit from:
- Improved social interaction.
- Enhanced project coordination efforts.
- Easier sharing of information.
There are many communications software available, but smaller businesses may find it more cost-effective to use free solutions, such as Gmail, Skype, and Slack.
Most people already know how to use these, so there is little to no learning curve. Still, you should research these solutions and determine how you can implement them into your existing internal communication strategies.
3. Project Management Solutions
In smaller and larger businesses alike, staff members often work on projects as a team. Coordinating these tasks is essential for efficiency and for achieving quality results. Each part of a project must have clear, concise instructions and defined deadlines.
The right software will provide you with a platform to communicate with all your team members. Each task should be defined with proper instructions, assignment to numerous team members, and a deadline. Each person will know who is responsible for the tasks and what the status is. This brings a level of accountability, while also providing organization and structure.
Some of the leading project management to consider include:
This is a simple, straightforward program that lets you track task deadlines on an integrated calendar. It also allows you to add task owners, recurring tasks, and notes. There are both paid and free versions available.
This is a basic project management application that is available for a low monthly fee. While it lacks some usability functions, it does work in conjunction with numerous other project management apps and services that your team may also be using.
A free version is available for up to 15 team members, making it a cost-effective solution for smaller groups or teams. It has a thoughtful and responsive design, fast functionality, and great flexibility.
In addition to these programs, you can also try a free alternative, such as Google Drive, to share files, assign tasks, and add comments to documents.
Regardless of the program that you choose to use, keep in mind that the right project management software may provide you with these benefits:
- A boost in efficiency through increased focus on relevant tasks.
- Better collaborations.
- Automation and simplification of task assignments.
4. CRM and Sales Solutions
A customer relationship management software can help you and your team to better manage and track leads through all stages of the process. This includes the initial leads stage to the post-purchase stage. Any weak spots can easily be identified and improved through these solutions.
Some profound benefits that your company may get from using a CRM include:
- An improved understanding of your customers’ motivations.
- Automation of repetitive tasks.
- An efficient way to gather critical customer information.
- The ability to analyze critical data to improve customer service.
- Integration options to simplify and improve analytics and reporting.
Below, you’ll find a few suggestions for CRM and Sales Solutions:
This is among the most dominant CRM programs available, and this is partially because it has robust functionality and customizable capabilities. While it can take a while to learn how to use it properly, it has huge benefits with social collaboration, and report generation.
This is an outbound sales tool that assists with real-time email tracking for marketing campaigns. It also has a sales dialer, social communications applications, and other tools.
5. Billing and Finance Solutions
Many business owners prefer to keep billing, invoicing, and other financial management tasks in-house, and the good news is that there are numerous solutions available that can help you and your team automate repetitive tasks and track accounts, to name a few examples.
When you use the right billing and finance solutions, you may benefit from:
- Streamlined billing and invoicing.
- The ability to schedule everything, which can reduce or eliminate late payments.
- Tracking tools to act on collections for late payments.
- Customization of billing and invoicing documents with your company’s branding.
- The ability to reduce costs by keeping the work in-house, while also saving time for improved operational efficiency.
- Solutions that can detect fraud.
- Cloud-based solutions that provide remote access.
Below, you’ll find a few key examples of billing and finance solutions:
A leader in small business accounting software solutions, whose popularity is due in part to its intuitive design and overall usability. It has a great interface, easy navigation, and flexibility with its applications. You can create custom reports, add contact records, prepare transaction forms, to name a few examples. There are also add-ons for payroll and other financial tasks.
An online invoicing application that is popular for sole proprietors and freelancers to use. It has recently been redesigned, so it’s worth trying again if you have previously used it. The new application design features numerous collaboration tools, an intuitive screen display, and easy navigation.
As valuable as the right software can be for your business, you should select them based on the analysis of their features and your specific needs. In addition, you and your team must be motivated to learn how to use these solutions properly.
Keep in mind that using the wrong program or using the right program in the wrong way can both create frustration and inefficiency in different ways. If you plan to use a new software soon, take time to explore the alternatives as a first step to making sure that it is a good fit for your organization’s needs.
After you have selected the right software, spend time learning how to use it yourself before you introduce it to your team. Ideally, you will become an expert and develop a procedural manual for training and reference before you present it to others.
A final step is to hype up the program and even offer incentives as necessary to get everyone excited about learning how to use it and implementing it effectively.
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.