Seven Apps to Drive Small Business Productivity
Jump into Efficiency
The key to success for any business is a full tool box of resources. If your staff is being asked to do more with less, gets bogged down tracking projects and maintaining social media, productivity apps can improve increasing productivity which translates to higher profits.
If you are hesitant to try new technology, consider how simply reducing your paper trail can save hundreds of dollars in waste and lost time: Employees use 10,000 sheets of paper on average annually which means reams and reams of expense, especially when you consider 45 percent of that paper ends up in the trash at the end of the day. Staff spend 30 to 40 percent of their time looking for a document. Imagine the savings by simply cutting search time and focusing on more productive work.
Going digital also means you can check in on operations from your smart phone or tablet. The following list of highly rated apps will make it easy to get started managing your work flow on the go.
One of the most popular note-taking apps, Evernote, saw major changes in the past year, including limiting free accounts to two devices and charging more for advanced features. Microsoft OneNote is an excellent free alternative with no limits on the number of devices you can connect.
Like Evernote, OneNote lets you gather and organize links, text, images and drawings in tagged notebooks, but it also offers a few cool extras. Since it is integrated with other Office apps, you can also import text and tables, record audio and email content straight to a notebook.
The OneNote app is part of the current MS Office suite, or is available to download for earlier versions of Windows. There are web app mobile versions for Android, iOS and Windows. OneNote synchronizes your data through your Microsoft account, and uses OneDrive to store everything you save (note the free level of OneDrive is now limited to 5GB). Optional extensions let you capture other images from meetings or the web and turn them into editable documents.
Hang on. Wunderlist users—the popular list-making app teamed up with Microsoft to create To-Do List. While you can still sign up and use Wunderlist, Microsoft says the app’s familiar features have been incorporated into To Do List, with expanded attributes so you can get even more done. The app helps you share lists and tasks, syncs automatically, tracks what is done and is even intuitive.
If you have uncompleted tasks, the app will remind you that the job still needs attention. To-Do will also integrate with Microsoft Office for access among other programs, and works cross platform on Android, iOS, Windows and the web. For present Wunderlist users, Microsoft is offering an importer to transfer data to the new app. Expect the app to be your go-to for organizing your workload.
Social Media Presence
HootSuite gives small businesses a leg up on social media without the expense of hiring more staff for the job. From this app, you can post to Twitter, Instagram, Facebook profiles, Pages and groups, Google+ Pages and profiles. LinkedIn profiles and companies, WordPress blogs and YouTube channels. HootSuite is easy to use, efficient and provides analytical information so you know what is working and where. You can manage your social media presence in a few minutes by scheduling multiple posts in advance instead of going to each social platform and entering posts one at a time. The app is free for one user on up to three platforms. Monthly plans with added features, users and platforms start at $19 a month.
A new app from the makers of HipChat, the cloud-based Stride app provide chat opportunities for work teams. The easy-to-use group messaging app integrates secure Cloud-based one-on-one instant messaging or chat rooms for group discussions, plus drag-and-drop file sharing and much more. There is a robust free version, or an affordable paid version with added features like unlimited file storage and advanced meeting functionality priced at $3 per month per user.
For organizations with compliance requirements and tightly regulated IT infrastructure that requires a firewall, HipChat’s enterprise oriented Data Center product is the best alternative. The Data Center tool also meets large scalability demands with high-availability multi-node clusters and load balancers, with customization options not available in a cloud-based tool.
Project management is vital to small business success so work smarter with the Basecamp app, one of the most popular and easy-to-use apps for this aspect of your operation. As the name implies, it puts everything you need to manage a project in one convenient place for everyone to access. You can create calendars to track work progress, attach files, invite others to the process and chat easily about the projects. Basecamp has a flat $99 per month fee with unlimited projects and users.
Toggl tracks time spent on an unlimited number of projects or with clients, so you get the most out of your work day. The app also allows you to view the information in graphs, export timesheets and sync numbers with other project management apps. To stay organized, you can divide employees into different groups. The app is free for as many as five users. Pro versions start at $9 a month per user, and each paid level offers a 30-day free trial.
Being more productive will save your business time, which translates into higher profits. By going electronic and reducing paper, you might save a few trees, too.