6 Pieces Of Software That Can Take Your Business To The Next Level

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Whether you’re looking to optimize existing processes, or expand your business and introduce more processes, you need the software to back up the move. Efficient modern businesses rely on multiple pieces of software to deal with everything from effective communication to stakeholder management.

If your business is still using spreadsheets and word processor documents, or even web-based email accounts, to manage its daily tasks, this is likely holding your business back from progressing.

While a spreadsheet will store data on staff absences and holiday leave, for example, HR software will automatically produce reports and highlight key areas to be addressed. And, it will integrate with other software solutions, like project management software, so when a key team member is absent from a project, the rest of the team will know how they are expected to pick up the slack.

Below, we look at 6 types of software that you can implement to help grow your business and take it to the next level.

1. CRM

Customer relationships are vital to the performance of the business. Small businesses tend to rely on their email software and maybe a database of contacts and communication, but it becomes a lot more complicated as companies expand. They need to store and quickly access data for cold and warm leads, prospective clients, clients, and former clients, as well as other stakeholders.

A Customer Relationship Management tool not only records all communication, but it offers automated communication. Your business can send follow-up emails one week after sending out proposals. Or it can schedule a call between the sales team and the prospective client.

Shared across the entire network, a CRM also means that all employees can see past and proposed communication with clients, ensuring everybody has access to all relevant customer information.

2. VPN

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) enables users to connect to networks via the Internet. It encrypts the user’s data so they can connect securely and prevent hacking and data theft.

How a VPN works is it sits between the user’s computer and the Internet connection. The user accesses the VPN server, rather than their usual ISP, before encrypting and masking the data. Aleksander Stevanovic states that using one makes it more difficult for hackers to access user information.  

A VPN is especially beneficial to companies with remote workers and employees who conduct their business outside the office.

It can also add an extra layer of security to businesses that have multiple locations. Those locations can connect with one another via the VPN, sharing files and software, while enjoying the level of security that modern organizations demand. Employees can connect to the intranet or company network without having to be on the premises and they, and the company, enjoy better security.

The VPN is also useful for circumventing geographically locked content. So, suppose a business needs to access content targeted specifically at the U.S.. In that case, they can connect to the site using a VPN server based in the U.S. This can also prove beneficial for search optimization and marketing companies that need to view search and social media results as though they were accessing the data from that country.  

3. Project Management Software

Generally, several people within a business will deal with individual projects and individual clients. Rarely is a single person responsible for every single element of managing one project.

Project management software enables the business to set up a specific project, break it down into its component parts, and assign those parts to individuals. It can set deadlines and track progress, automatically sending reminders to individuals when needed.

Web-based tools can be accessed from any location with an Internet connection, which makes them useful for projects that include remote workers, and most include apps that send pop-ups and reminders on phones. The project management tool means everybody involved in a project can see progress, and it means that all completed and outstanding elements of a task are recorded, so if somebody involved in a project is away or unable to complete a step in the process, somebody else can easily pick up where they left off.

Even if a company only employs a small handful of people, project management software is an effective way to track and organize progress.

4. Marketing Automation Software

Whether you’re a marketing company that deals with client campaigns or you do your own marketing, automation software can take your marketing to the next level.

One of the most common pieces of this type of software is email marketing software. This manages email lists, enabling you to add new entries and update existing ones. It connects to an email package, and it can even be set up to schedule email follow-ups automatically. It can track delivery, bounce, and response rates, so reporting is quicker and more accurate.

Other types of marketing automation software include social media, direct mail, and even networking management packages.  

5. Accounting Software

Accounting is another area of business where a lot of small businesses make do with what they have. They will make invoices in PDF or even on PayPal and other payment processing software and then record details on a spreadsheet. This might be manageable when a business only has a small number of clients and sends out a few invoices.

However, as the business grows and takes on more clients, it can be extremely prohibitive and time-consuming. For retail companies or companies with many different suppliers, this type of accounting is unfeasible. Come the end of the tax year, you will be grateful for your accounting package.

Accounting software packages not only allow you to record invoices and payments, but they will automatically generate invoices, can be scheduled to send them to clients, and can even send reminders after a set number of days. When connected to a bank account, the software will record payments.

This is another tool that makes reporting super simple. Reports can usually be generated automatically every week, month, quarter, or year, and ad hoc reporting consists of one or two button presses.

Accounting software needs to be secure, and ideally, it should integrate or combine with other software solutions, such as customer relationship management and communication tools.

6. HR Software

Human resources is a complicated area of business that requires storing and managing large volumes of potentially sensitive personal data. You will likely hold CVs, details of personal achievements, and contact details. You will also have tax details, banking details, and other personal information that needs to be stored securely and potentially accessed regularly.

HR software can track everything from employment history to sick and annual leave absences. It can’t replace an HR specialist or team in a large organization, but it can improve and speed up processes for them.

Conclusion

From tracking sick leave to making sure you send that proposal follow-up email, software can help manage and improve business processes. While it is possible to get by with basic software like spreadsheets and webmail when a company is new, if you want to take your business to the next level, choosing the right software will help enormously.

I'm Allison Dunn,

Your Business Executive Coach

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