Last week we covered technology’s negative impact on mental well-being, especially in a work environment. Today we will look at the quickly-advancing technology from a different angle – one that is more positive and beneficial to businesses.
There are thousands of apps and softwares out there, covering different needs and wants of its users. From apps that remind you to drink your daily intake of water to ones that help you organise your grocery list, you can get lost in the variety of choices. However, apps for business uses have seen a huge growth in the last couple of years, as companies recognised their potential.
Time and project management, productivity, organising and planning, communications and so on – all of these areas of business can benefit from tech apps that are designed to make your tasks more efficient, productive and profitable. Here are 10 most popular tech apps you can use in your business:
Slack is one of the most popular applications for team communications as well as the biggest rival for MS Teams. Although it’s not the most intuitive of softwares from the get-go, once you master it, it’s extremely easy and efficient. If we would compare Slack to anything, we would say it looks like a Twitter feed, just for business use.. Slack allows you to make channels for specific conversations teams, for example, you can assign specific employees to a certain project and create a group chat just for that purpose – where they can discuss only the matters of the given project. You can have multiple channels, including general team conversations. These chats and their notifications can be easily filtered to avoid unnecessary noise as well as integrated with other business apps.
Although mainly used for team communications, Slack often ends up being the main project management app for most small businesses. The basic Slack version is free for an unlimited number of users, but with a small monthly fee it allows you to add more advanced features that will cover some of the other important business areas.
Trello is a great project management and planning app that allows you to easily manage content within your team. What most people enjoy about this app is how visual it is – you have boards that you can organise based on colours, create lists on them, add cards that indicate their status and so on. For instance, if you have a content marketing list, you can add article topics to it and change their statuses to assigned, writing, editing, ready to publish and so on. Trello also allows you to attach files, make checklists and assign specific employees to tasks.
Trello is completely free for personal use, but has a monthly fee for each member for businesses. Depending on the size and nature of your business, Trello can either be perfect for your company or may lack some features..
A great Trello’s alternative for larger businesses that require more features is Miro. It has a similar idea of a white board display for lists, team task allocations and so on, but it has a lot more functions. Miro is also integrated with many other commonly-used apps, such as MS Teams, Slack, Google Drive and so on.
Although there are some accounting apps with more robust financial tracking features, Expensify is a good alternative for smaller businesses. Expensify is an app that helps you easily track your employees’ expenses. The app allows you to create drag and drop items, attach images from receipts and create expense reports. The app is very easy-to-use and low-cost, which makes it ideal for small businesses that need some sort of expense tracking system for a handful of travelling workers. Expensify can also be integrated with Tripchatcher, which is specifically for tracking your team’s travelling mileage.
Evernote is a great productivity app that allows you to track a lot of your business information in a single app. This is mostly used for things like important articles, social media posts, research and so on. The app allows you to clip bits and pieces of information straight from the web, add to them, embed images, tables, audios, etc. You can also store notes, journaling, contacts, recipes, to-do lists, emails or even tweets. This is the app that you need if your work requires a lot of research and storing bits of information in one visual, user-friendly app. It could be basically described as a handy digital scrapbook or a research journal.
Evernote has a free version with some general tools, but you can also upgrade to a business use with a monthly fee, receiving some additional features and administrator controls.
DocuSign is exactly what it sounds like – it’s an app specifically for easy and secure document signing. This is definitely not needed for every business, but some may really benefit from it. For instance, if you work with a lot of independent contractors or freelancers that live on the other side of the world, DocuSign will allow you to store their contracts, forms and other sensitive information in one place and sign it digitally. This is a good way to avoid faxing or mailing forms that may not be quite as secure or quick.
DocuSign does not have a free version, but it has choices with different price points, for either personal, standard or business uses.
A lot of small businesses rely on MailChimp as their main system for email marketing campaigns to promote their products and keep their customers updated. MailChimp has lots of management tools for successful email campaigns, with timed delivery, contact list segmentation and so on. The app can be integrated with other eCommerce softwares, which makes it ideal for small businesses with tight budgets.
The most basic version of MailChimp is free, but you can upgrade to either essentials, standard or premium versions, based on your budget and needs.
Canva is a well-known app for easily creating visual content. It can be very beneficial to companies that sometimes need a bit of graphic design, but not enough to spend a load of money on it. Canva provides you with templates for whatever you are trying to create, from infographics to business cards or general posters. The app is pretty much a drag and drop for creating content and changing the colours, fonts, images and symbols is made very simple.
The app is free with an option of upgrading to a premium version that includes more content choices as well as photo editing tools.
Some Small businesses may benefit from an easy time tracking solution and Time Doctor is one of the best ones out there, alongside RescueTime and Harvest. With an easy-to-use interface, you are able to track each of your employee’s hours as well as get time reporting or even use screenshot monitoring. This is also very useful to someone that works with freelancers or independent contractors and pays an hourly wage. It may not be for every business, but some feel like it helps them stay organised with hours and boost their team’s productivity. The app has a small monthly fee, so it’s suitable for small businesses on a budget.
Nimble is a handy app for Customer Relationship Management, especially for companies that are active on social media. It lets you easily store your contacts and takes data from their social media profiles, so you can see what your possible leads are up to. It also analyses any shared interests and is integrated with Gmail, Outlook, Hootsuite and many others. Nimble will also recognise which relationships are valuable to you, based on those you continue interacting with, making it easier to highlight any future opportunities.
Nimble does not have a free version, but there are a couple different modules to choose from, based on your budget and the size of your business.
Square is a payment processing solution for small businesses that rely on point-of-sale purchases but cannot afford large payment systems. Square will send you a small card-reader that you can plug into your smartphone or tablet and it will work like any other payment processing software. Your clients will simply have to swipe their credit cards onto your device and the payments will process like usual. The app does not require internet connection and you can use text messages or emails to send receipts.
There is no monthly fee for Square, instead you will pay a small percentage cut per every swiped transaction.
An alternative app that can also be used by larger enterprises is GoCardless. This is a payment collection solution that allows your customers to securely and easily pay by Direct Debit from anywhere in the world and in multiple currencies. The app can be used for one-off payments or monthly subscription collections.
Bonus! Xero FREE access
Although more of a software than app, Xero has been previously recognised as a leading accounting solution for small businesses. The cloud-based software has a highly visual and easy-to-use interface. Xero can also integrate with hundreds of third-party apps, banks and financial service providers. The online accounting software promises to connect you to all things business as well as to make accounting and bookkeeping that much more convenient, efficient and secure.
As proud partners of Xero, we want to share access to a FREE 30 day trial for the software. There are no limitations for the trial, so you will be able to check out all of the features, add unlimited users and get free 24/7 customer support. You will not be asked to add your bank details for the trial, but you can continue with a paid subscription after the 30 days.
In need of advice?
Although all of the apps mentioned above sound amazingly smart and helpful to any business, you don’t need them all. Getting too many apps and softwares that are only useful once in a while is a poor decision for your cash flow and will end up hurting your business, rather than helping it boost growth and productivity.
At ASfB we offer expert guidance for all things business, including your choice of apps and softwares. We will review your individual business needs and wants and provide you with a list of apps that will help your company become smarter, more efficient and more profitable.
Call us on 01202 755600 or drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for a further discussion with our friendly Bournemouth based team.