It never stops in small business, it’s like spinning plates; you just get one going and you have to run over to another that’s got a bad case of the wobbles. As the end of the financial year, (EOFY) approaches the plates increase with the myriad of things you need to do and opportunities to take advantage of.
As we approach the end of the financial year, it’s a good time to take stock of your business and to give yourself the opportunity to rule off the past year and to plan for the next year. However, you don’t want to rush the review of your last 12 months efforts and miss the lessons for the next year. EOFY is not just about getting your business in order but also importantly about planning for the next lot plates you’ll be spinning.
We want to talk about some digital tools that can really assist small business owners with implementing good efficient business and operations – because good smooth, consistent business processes and operations adds value to a business, in both good times and tough times. A business with cost effective, efficient, simple processes supported by quality, easy to use tools can make it a lot easier to keep those plates spinning and allow you to focus on the growth of the company.
Many of the online tools and software available today can benefit your business in a number of ways:
- You can start small and ‘upgrade’ as required – it’s affordable.
- It’s quick to deploy and easier than ever to change providers if it no longer meets your needs
- You don’t need hefty infrastructure – no maintenance of hardware, etc.
- Guaranteed levels of service regarding its performance.
- Data recovery and backups are automated without your intervention.
- You or staff can work anywhere.
- Cloud-based products are generally quite secure and often run separate data centres to ensure continuity of delivery.
- High and relatively easy adoption by staff.
Before you can determine which software solutions will be best for your business you’ll need to identify the critical functions that must be done to keep the business operating consistently and the software applications will help you achieve this.
So what are the top 5 functions in a small business that will benefit from a SaaS application? This list will change from business to business but assuming you’ve got a few staff, a sales or opportunity pipeline, the need to deliver a service or product and a need to have visibility over revenue and costs, we recommend taking a look at the following:
Sales and service CRM – Salesforce (SF) is a leader in CRM and starts from as little as $35 per month. The extensive database knowledge is considered to be a godsend for building a robust business database. Salesforce has either sales or service editions that can be bought separately or together. There are also loads of apps you can buy that expand its functionality. This includes HR, IT, Marketing, and Finance apps. It really can almost be a one stop SaaS solution. However SF storage for data is quite expensive, so be sure to include this in your calculations as you expand. There are also new products coming from the likes of Oracle and SAP. Or try Snapforce, it’s well-priced and ideal for businesses under 100 employees. Snapforce has an added advantage of having an enterprise cloud phone system built into the foundation of the software, with free and unlimited calling, voicemail to email, call transfers, call forwarding, video conferencing and more included.
Email, Documents and Cloud Storage – We’ve put these together because an email platform on its own without other functions really is a bit of dinosaur. Google’s enterprise platform is great for one or more users in a business Google offers a vast number of web-based services such as Gmail, Google Drive (storage), Google Docs (the company’s office suite of online productivity apps), Calendar, Maps, and Google+ (social). Google packages these services in various Google Apps bundles, which go up against established enterprise productivity tools from Microsoft and others in organisations of all sizes. You can even create an intranet simply using Google sites.
HR – We mentioned before you can get apps for Salesforce and other products that turn your CRM into a broader business tool. HR plugins can include recruitment, applicant tracking, induction performance appraisals, payroll and a range of other functions to help you manage your team. Try Bamboo or Zoho for smaller businesses. Managing staff and their time, particularly in service-based environments, is critical – get a good, simple HR solution to help make this easier for all.
Finance – hard to go past Xero or SaasU as both offer online accounting remotely, dashboards to see balances, invoices, expenses etc. The ability to generate invoices, generate bank reconciliations and provide reports is always going to be essential. They can do payroll and expense claims management and you can give your accountant access so you are both working in the same environment.
Plug-ins or apps for Xero are getting quite good with a big range of add-ons for debtor tracking, e-commerce, HR, point of sale and time tracking, just to name a few
Finally the Phone – where to start? There are a myriad of solutions but we recommend a VoIP or cloud-based hosted PBX for greater flexibility if you need multiple lines inbound and outbound. Some systems can be integrated with your CRM and for telemarketing you can have auto diallers and screen pop-ups and so much more.
If you are small business choose a free softphone provider and good telco and pair the two for cheap effective calling costs. So whilst this is not a definitive list, these are 5 key functions in a business you can think about re-engineering. If implemented correctly these cloud-based solutions can really enhance your next financial year. To make sure your reporting is on-point, speak with a marketing professional to learn about the types of reports Google Analytics can produce for you. Call us today on 1300 859 600.