What is Operational Software? (And How it Can Benefit Your Business)
Operational software is software that supports the operations of your business by improving the organization and accessibility of data, automating repetitive tasks, and finally, increasing overall productivity by making your processes more effective and efficient.
For every business, there’s always more to get done, and a surplus of information to keep track of, to ensure that everything continues moving forward. But what if you could use technology to simplify processes and complete projects more quickly? Thanks to operational software, you can.
Especially as a business grows, operational software can free up employee time by automating those menial, time-consuming tasks. By freeing up your employees’ schedule, they can do more of the work that only humans can do and, in turn, increase the potential to drive your bottom line.
Perhaps you’ve considered hiring another employee to perform tasks like data entry. But instead of investing more in human capital, bring on a piece of technology that can do the job and provide more accurate results.
In the following, we’ll address how operational software can boost your business’s efficiency, provide a return on your investment, and most importantly, increase your overall revenue.
How Software Can Increase Efficiency
Operational software is an umbrella term for various tools that you can use to better your business and help it to grow. From consolidating data into one, easily accessible centralized system to building a robust CRM, operational software can be designed to do whatever your business needs to become more effective, and here’s how.
- Automate repetitive tasks. - Employees can spend hours performing mundane tasks, which may include generating invoices or sending out customer follow-ups. Forbes explains how a Fortune 500 company could save $4 million a year by automating such processes, and there’s a good chance automation could cut costs for you as well.
- Maximize employee time. - With technology taking the bulk of the menial tasks, in most cases, this also means that you’ll need fewer employees. Plus, your existing employees will now have more time to work on the tasks that technology can’t, so you can get more for the investment you put into them.
- Enhance workflow. - Even with your employees performing fewer repetitive tasks, an unstructured workflow can still inhibit them from performing at their best. In fact, Entrepreneur notes that most businesses lose 20 to 30% in revenue as a result of inefficient processes. Rather, utilize software that can refine your businesses workflow processes, increase productivity, and drive revenue.
- Improve organization. - If your business’s valuable data is unorganized, you could be losing money from time wasted searching for those important documents. An Express Employment Survey found that 57% of the 18,000 business leaders surveyed lose 6 hours per week due to disorganization. Instead, properly catalog your data within one management system, so you can save time and money.
- Reduce human error. - The reality is that humans are imperfect and bound to make mistakes, so why take the risk of having them make inaccurate calculations? According to IBM, bad data costs businesses up to $3.1 trillion per year. Rather than finding yourself with bad data, let software run the numbers for you.
Choosing the Right Tool for You
No two businesses are alike, and as such, each will benefit best from a set of tools that best fits its particular business model and practices. Depending on a business’s needs, operational software can range from out-of-box subscription-based tools to entirely custom systems designed specifically for that business.
So, how do you determine what software is best for you?
The best place to start in determining what your business may need involves identifying any areas where your business’s processes could improve. For instance, your business may benefit from reducing the amount of paper it uses. In other cases, a more robust CRM may help to streamline your communication with customers and save valuable time.
Here are just a few examples:
- Inventory Management System
- Document Management System
- Project Management Software
- Workflow Management Software
- CRM (Customer Relationship Management) Software
- ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) Software
- Role-based user interfaces and reports
- Business Process Automation Software
- Third-party Integrations with Existing Software
This list is by no means exhaustive. When it comes to operational software, the opportunities for bettering your business are limitless. In some cases, off-the-shelf software or systems may be enough. In others, your business may benefit from integrating new tools into an existing system or building an entirely fresh, custom system altogether.
When You Need Operational Software
Smaller businesses, or businesses just starting out, don’t necessarily have the capital necessary to improve their operations. However, most businesses reach a point where it becomes clear that improving efficiency is the next best step for moving towards growth.
In most cases, the first step to determining how you could improve your business’s operations is by considering where you could implement business process automation, or software that automates some of your existing business practices. With this in mind, ask yourself:
1. Could technology automate any of the tasks your employees are currently doing?
If the answer is “yes,” then getting your hands on software that reduces the number of repetitive tasks your employees execute may be the right choice.
While many businesses could benefit from automation, this is not the only area where software can foster improved operations. Another question you may want to consider involves the organization of your data and processes:
2. Is your data organized and easily accessible? Are your processes streamlined and organized as well?
If you answered “no” to either of those questions, your business may benefit from management software.
When data is the primary concern, a data management system can help. Data management software can vary from document management systems—for more effective organization of your records—to inventory management systems—for more accurate product tracking from the warehouse to delivery.
On the other hand, to increase the effectiveness of your business’s existing practices, process management software may be necessary. Process management software can improve the processes behind your project management—project management software—to better your communication with customers—a powerful CRM.
Once you’ve considered if automation or improved organization would benefit your business, it’s time to consider if purchasing operational software will provide you with anything in return:
3. Will purchasing software provide an ROI?
As with most aspects of business, before making an investment, it’s valuable to understand if that investment will pay you back. In most cases, operational software will provide a return, but you’ll need to run the numbers to ensure that this holds true for your specific business model.
For some assistance with calculating your potential return, you can use this ROI Calculator. By weighing the cost of the software you have in mind against how much you will save, this tool will help you to determine how much your investment will pay you back in one to five years’ time.
If the numbers reveal that it’s not quite worth the investment, wait for your business to grow and revisit the idea sometime in the future. Conversely, if the numbers look good, it may be worthwhile to start planning your software and, shortly after, reach out to a software development team.
Let’s Get Started!
Operational software is available for businesses with almost any budget. Some resources are available for free or on a paid subscription basis. However, to get the most of your software, you might consider custom operational software tailored to your unique business needs.