This is the age of automation, and every company that wants to stay in business must adapt and utilise the benefits of technology. Not only will tech help your business flourish, it will also relieve your employees from boring menial tasks and allow them to focus on their creativity. Digitising your processes brings structure and organises the way your team works, so that everyone knows what they’re doing and where. Here we discuss ten types of apps that you should consider implementing in your business.
1. Project management
The most important type of app that will benefit any business is a project management tool. These will help you create workflows, set up complex to-do lists, and contribute to your overall organisation levels. If you’re only looking for a simple note-taking app, Evernote will be the best option for you. However, in case you want something a little more extensive, Monday, Trello or Asana are perfect for sharing tasks with a team and scheduling work. Whatever your needs are, a project management tool is essential — like any manager knows, being organised is the most important element for a business, and these apps will help you take this to the next level.
2. Professional Services Automation (PSA)
PSA is a kind of project management tool, but it’s far more robust. It’s particularly useful for professional services like law, accounting and IT firms due to its ability to integrate other software, track operations, resources and costs, and provide insight into portfolio management. If you require vigorous track-keeping for your professional service, a PSA software will grant you with better productivity, efficiency and profitability.
There are many available options on the market, it’s all about what kind of usability you’re looking for. Accelo is great for service businesses, while BigTime is custom-made for consultancy firms, for example. If you’re already using a CRM software, you may want to look into PSA that can seamlessly work within it — like the seamless integration of Precursive into Salesforce.
3. Accounting and finance
Keeping track of money is never an easy task, but it used to be much harder when we had to do it by hand. Thankfully, most companies today have already switched to some form of digitised bookkeeping, however, they’re still not fully living up to their potential. To do that, accounting apps can be the difference between a headache that leads to mistakes (and as we know, financial mistakes can be particularly costly) and a faff-free, one-click-of-a-button kind of deal.
If you know anything about accounting, you’ve probably come across QuickBooks. It’s fully integratable with many other apps, it can do anything — and we mean anything — including tax accounting, payroll and profit analysis. If you’re only starting out, however, the small business-focused Wave might be simpler to use. There are also specially-made apps for less complicated bookkeeping tasks, for example, Expensify is built for scanning receipts and processing employee expenses.
Communication between employees has always been vital for team integration and consolidation, as well as productive work. This has become even more significant during the pandemic, which took away the ability to tap a colleague on the shoulder and ask a question, not to mention hosting meetings. As more and more businesses are going to keep some sort of hybrid working policy even post-COVID, good communication tools are more crucial than ever.
There isn’t a start-up that doesn’t know Slack, which has been a lifesaver for many up-and-coming organisations around the globe. It’s no surprise that they refer to themselves as ‘your new headquarters’ — they allow you to start channels for different teams, message employees privately, and conduct your business as if your Slack app is your office. And of course, how can we forget this pandemic’s true MVP, Zoom, for when you want more extensive meeting rooms on video.
5. Employee management
Your workers get a lot of freedom because you trust them. It’s good for them, for you, and for your business. However, there are certain things that you’ll still need to keep an eye on for different purposes. For example, if you work with a multitude of clients by the hour, your employees would need to track the time they put in for every individual customer, most likely divided by project. Unless you pay your employees a global salary, you may need them to keep tabs on when they work for the purposes of payroll. And of course, you should calculate sick days, annual leave and any other disruptions to business, too. Employee and HR management tools like Homebase, Everhour and Charlie help you do just that.
6. Invoicing and billing
No matter what you do, you’re going to be working with clients at some point. These clients will pay you and you will need to invoice them. Gone are the days of writing up a number on a crumpled invoice paper you got from your local Ryman. Smart and intuitive invoicing apps will ensure you put everything down properly, retain data and keep things tidy.
Although some accounting apps will have that feature, sometimes it is worthwhile to get an app that specialises in dealing with invoicing. Chargify, for example, allows you to regularly bill your clients, while Invoicely lets you send unlimited invoices to an infinite number of customers, making it ideal for new business owners. Zoho Invoice is another fantastic option for small businesses, with a simple interface but extensive capabilities.
Keeping everyone on the same page is essential for a thriving business. But this goes beyond communication only — you need to find a way to ensure everyone has all the resources that they need while maintaining security. This is why a cloud app is worthwhile for every business. Whether it’s Google Workspace that gives you access to a variety of Google apps including Google Drive, Dropbox Business or Microsoft OneDrive, you need a cloud system. These will retain all of your files in one place, allow your teams to edit together, and make sure everyone knows where things are placed. For graphics, we highly recommend Figma — a collaborative tool that will keep all logos and elements in one place for all your departments (even the non-techy ones).
If you’re an online retailer, it’s necessary for you to be able to build a web store that can process payments, present your products to buyers in a streamlined manner, and let both you and your customers view their order history and progression of their purchases. Luckily, there are some great businesses out there that were created just for that. Weebly and BigCommerce are great for purpose-built ecommerce sites, including design templates, fulfilment options and CRM tools. Wix and Squarespace are particularly useful for artistic or creative businesses, as they have amazing portfolio functionality. If you already have a running website and you’re only looking to simplify your processes or provide a payment system, Shopify is one of the most popular ecommerce apps out there.
Regardless of whether you sell online or physically, you need to be able to follow what you have in stock. You can rely on complicated spreadsheets, but they always cause human error and expensive mistakes. Instead, an inventory app can be a lifesaving tool that will ensure you know exactly what you have, how much of it, and when you need to order or create more, no matter how many sales channels you work with.
Shopventory is a fantastic option, as it also provides cash flow management and profitability tracking, while keeping you up-to-date with reports that can point out your more slow-moving stock. Stockpile is completely free and good for more basic requirements, while Delivrd also supports barcode scanning and printing. There are so many different inventory apps out there, so it’s all about your specific needs and what you want to track.
10. Calendar and scheduling
Timekeeping is not everybody’s forte, but technology can really help with that. Thanks to smart alerts, we can now be notified when we need to leave to get to a meeting and never be late again. What’s more, business calendars can be shared, enabling you to look through a colleague’s schedule before you book in a meeting with them instead of the neverending back-and-forth it used to require. Google Calendar is the most intuitive option, especially if you have their workspaces implemented.
However, it’s definitely not the only available app — the aptly named Calendar is a dynamic app that automates prioritisation based on historical and real-time data, and Fantastical 2 will let your employees control notifications geographically, so they can stop being notified when they’re at home, for example, for better work-life balance.
While calendars themselves are essential, you should also consider using a scheduling app like Calendly. These will utilise a link that you can send to clients, allowing them to schedule a meeting with you that will automatically insert itself into your calendar, and read information from your existing meetings to prevent double-booking.