If you’re a small business owner, you’ve probably heard some of the startup failure statistics. For businesses that were started in 2014, only 56% made it to their fifth year (Small Business Trends). The key reason? Most businesses run out of money.
That’s why it’s so valuable to maximize the resources you have, and one great way to do so is with the help of operational software, also often referred to as operations software. This software helps to streamline the operations of your business, so you can boost your business’s productivity and chances of reaching success.
In the following, we’ll discuss 7 examples of operations software for small business that you may want to consider implementing, so you can increase your business’s chance of sticking around for the long-run.
1. Productivity Software
To increase productivity, the first type of software you’ll want to consider implementing is pretty straightforward: productivity software. Productivity software helps you and your employees to become—surprise—more productive through improved workflow, project, and time management.
Productivity software helps to inspire employees to use their time more wisely and better organize their processes. Moreover, tracking processes on an accessible, collaborative platform makes it easier for fellow employees to stay in-the-know on who’s accomplishing what, as well provide greater accountability when it comes to time management.
Off-the-shelf Examples: Asana, Toggl, Trello
2. Communication Software
Many businesses lose a signification amount of time to poor internal communications. For example, a survey found that the average white-collar worker spends an average of 4.1 hours a day checking their email, or 20.5 hours per week—that’s over half of the work week spent on email alone (The Washington Post). So, what can you do instead?
Communication software is often the answer to preventing email overload and communication-driven delays. Rather than letting your employees get buried in emails, or run from one end of the office to the other to ask a simple question, use software that allows your team to send instant messages, work on projects collaboratively, and more.
Off-the-shelf Examples: Slack, Skype, Jive
3. Learning Management System/Onboarding Software
Whether you’re spending too much, or not enough, time processing in and training your new hires, there’s room for improvement. In fact, the top onboarding challenge is inconsistent application (HCI). By providing consistent application, however, you can decrease turnover and save time and money.
To help streamline your onboarding processes, you can use software to help usher in new employees. If onboarding is the primary concern, you may only need onboarding software. But if your company requires complex training, consider adopting a learning management system (LMS) to deliver and track your new hire’s onboarding and training progress.
Off-the-shelf Examples: Namely, Zenefits, WorkBright
4. Customer Relationship Management System
Even if your business is small, that doesn’t mean your customer database is. When keeping track of your customers’ contact information starts to become tricky, and following-up with leads becomes difficult, it might be time to adopt a customer relationship management system (CRM).
CRMs allow businesses to easily track their current and potential customers, manage and automate communications, track and analyze audience segments, and so much more. This software has grown so much in popularity that the market is expected to reach $80 billion in revenue by 2025 (SuperOffice), making no time better than today to adopt it yourself.
Off-the-shelf Examples: Zoho CRM, Infusionsoft, HubSpot CRM
5. Inventory Management Software
You can skip over this one if your business doesn’t sell physical products…
Inventory—a significant amount of time is spent by retail businesses on organizing, tracking, ordering products, and more. In addition, almost half (43%) of small businesses use a manual method to track their inventory or fail to track their inventory at all (Wasp). Ironically, accurately tracking inventory is critical to helping a retail business reach optimum performance.
While most small businesses think that they aren’t large enough to benefit from inventory management software, businesses of all sizes should utilize the software to save time and improve accuracy. From reducing dead stock to ensuring you have the top-selling products on your shelves, this software can help.
Off-the-shelf Examples: NetSuite, Quickbooks Enterprise, Fishbowl
6. Accounting Software
If you haven’t already adopted accounting software, you’re really missing out. In fact, 69% of small businesses still use manual processes, namely spreadsheets, to track invoices and spending (Small Business Trends). The problem with using spreadsheets is that it can lead to inaccuracies, which can cost you a surplus of time and money in the long-run.
This is where accounting software is almost a necessity. Using software for your bookkeeping can help you to more accurately track spending, keep financial organized in one place, and save you a significant amount of time during tax season (U.S. companies spend an average of 175 hours per year on taxes alone (The World Bank).
Off-the-shelf Examples: QuickBooks, Zoho Office Suite, Quicken
7. Business Process Automation Software
With the ever-increasing popularity of AI and machine learning, businesses are no longer limited to only what humans can do. Not only that but allowing your software to do more of the work can maximize employee time, reduce mistakes and increase accuracy, and finally, save you money.
The services and products your business offers plays a critical role in determining what tasks would be the best candidates for automation. Whether you’d prefer to automate your marketing to your customer support, you and your team can stress less and get more done.
Off-the-shelf Examples: Zapier, Automate.io, Actiondesk
Taking Operations Software Up a Notch
As noted earlier in this article, money is often a significant, if not the most significant factor, in how a small business operates. To acquire most of the aforementioned software at a low price, many off-the-shelf versions are available (We've included a few examples above). However, it’s worth taking into consideration the potential limitations that such software could pose to reaching your business goals.
The most prominent issue with using multiple off-the-shelf programs is that your employees will be jumping from one program to the next to complete tasks. The good news is that supplementing off-the-shelf software with custom software is often the solution.
Would You Like all These Tools in One Place?
If supplementing your existing software with customer software sounds like the next right step for your business, you’ll need a team of custom software developers to help. The team you choose will need to be solutions-oriented and know which tools are required to provide you with the best results.
ClikFocus has provided small to enterprise-level businesses with top-notch software for over a decade. Our team of skilled developers is ready to learn more about your vision, develop a plan, and help you start bettering your business today.