Business management software, keeping different types of business software tools and specialist …
Small business is a strange beast, you need to have everything you need in place to facilitate effective work – but you also need to make sure you don’t have anything you don’t need unnecessarily weighing you down. This can be particularly problematic with business management software as, unlike physical goods, it takes up very little space and is easy to accumulate.
As a result, there is quite an important distinction to be made between what is necessary and what is unnecessary. Essentially, when it comes to software, the things that are actively aiding your business and adding real value are necessary – everything else is extraneous and will most likely be a detriment rather than a help. This is particularly the case for paid software, which forms a large part of business management software as a whole, as little used applications not only clutter your business practices but also accrue a financial cost whilst delivering little to no benefit.
But what do you actually need in small business? And what do you need to look out for when choosing your own business management software?
Different Types Of Business = Different Types Of Software
This probably goes without saying, but the type of software you need depends on the nature of your business. For example, if you’re an accountancy firm then using software that effectively manages finances such as financial reporting software will be useful.
On the other, this might not be such an intrinsic part of the daily business management of a graphic design company or a marketing team. As a result, less powerful software is adequate and there is no need for applications with a great range of capabilities that would be suited to an accountant.
Think about defining what your business actually does, this is the first step towards finding the right kind of business management software for you. Be broad in your definition, go from the general to the specific – this makes it much easier to decide what you actually need.
Business Software Tools That Everyone Needs
Whilst it’s true that there are many software packages that businesses might not need, there are several software packages (or rather types of software packages) that are useful for almost every kind of business. The fact of the matter is that, at the end of the day, there are certain things that most companies do.
This is a good thing, because it means you probably won’t have to look for very specialised software to help you do the normal things that you do in your day-to-day business. In addition, you have a plethora of free options to choose from the more general types of business software.
These universal types of business management software include;
Time Management Software
If you’re self-employed or run a small business you will need to keep track of time. There are many applications available including RescueTime and TimeDoctor. You can also put these on employee computers or your tablet to track time across different devices.
Task Management Software
There is always a need to plan tasks. It not only keeps a record of what you have done to show clients, it shows you where you are in the overall extent of a project and how far you have to go. Applications like Trello are very useful for task planning. There are several others such as TaskJuggler that are open source, which means there are no costs and often a greater level of flexibility.
Finance And Accounting Software
All businesses need to keep accurate records of their accounts. Granted if you’re an accountancy firm you may need software that is more flexible or otherwise has a greater level of functionality, but even the smallest business needs some level of accounting. Often, spreadsheet software will be enough. There are many available including Microsoft Excel in addition to Calc, which is open source.
Generally speaking, these types of software are almost essential to all small business. You need to have something covering the management of time, tasks and finances in order to make sure you have effective business management overall.
These are the basics – and although you might be tempted to manage them yourself, particularly if you’re self-employed and not managing a team, they really help you view your business more accurately. Which ultimately means better business decisions.
Well there’s no point in talking about the general types of software you might need without talking about some of the more specialised ones too. There are many, and these will vary in suitability depending on the nature of your business. As this is a primarily software and tech related post, a sector comprising many small business, we’ll stick to that area.
Specialist software for small business, especially in the technology sector, include;
Enterprise Management Software
This type of software is suitable for businesses that are on the larger end of the small business spectrum. Enterprise management is also a fairly broad term, and businesses may use parts or aspects of enterprise management depending on the individual needs of a business. This may include automated accounting software, such as Kash Flow, business intelligence software, such as Jaspersoft, or customer relationship management software such as Sage CRM.
Graphic Design Software
Many people in the tech and software world work with graphics. This spans a variety of trades from fashion to advertising and the entertainment industry. Specialist graphic design software used in this field includes Adobe Photoshop, a versatile graphics editing tool, CorelDRAW, a specialised vector graphic based editor, and Wacom Tablets which is used for graphics tablet interfaces using a pen.
Web Design Software
Many of the most sophisticated software packages are used in web design. Software such as Adobe Dreamweaver is particularly notable as it can be used by people without extensive expertise in coding. Coda 2 is a Mac exclusive web design program that has a good coding environment for HTML and CSS. Other specialist web design software includes Sublime Text 2, which is cross platform and supports a wide variety of programming languages.
It’s worth mentioning that many specialised software packages are paid. This is due to the fact that they are specialised. Developers are able to demand a premium by offering functionality that is not commonly found elsewhere.
Still, there are also many specialist open source software packages with a great degree of functionality – some are also ad-supported. Although, ultimately if a proprietary tool is going to add real value to your business it’s well worth investing in it.
Business Management Software & Small Business Success
An important thing to remember when thinking about business management software is that you need to choose what will help your business function more effectively. It is very easy to get bogged down in all the bells and whistles of a particular software package – and this is detrimental to your overall business efficiency.
Small business may be a strange beast – and small business software is a stranger beast still. But if you keep in mind that you should only use what is adding to your business and facilitating your daily processes it’s much easier to determine what you need.
Thanks for reading. Have I left something out? Do you have any additional ideas you’d like to share? Please comment and let me know what you think.
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