Being a business owner in a data-driven market demands constant attention to details. Daily changes to financial information, customer data, marketing analytics and supplier relationships can nearly impossible to keep track of using traditional business systems. That’s why the future of any successful business lies in software and applications that integrate all important business processes.
When one department in your business needs information from another right away, you lose valuable time if employees have to send emails, make calls or walk from one part of the building to another to obtain the data. With an integrated solution in place, departments are connected via the applications they use to perform daily tasks. Information is updated in real time and can be sent seamlessly from one team to another without delays. When your company uses an integrated digital framework, you enjoy:
- Minimal data loss
- Greater efficiency
- Clearer communication
- Simpler collaboration
- More accurate billing and payroll
- Easy scalability
This improved working environment allows you to maintain a high level of productivity and deliver a better experience to customers and clients.
Getting the right applications to cover all the basic functions in your business requires a little research, but it’s well worth the time. A quick search of each process turns up web-based and cloud-based software that works across platforms so that you can update information whether you’re at the office or working on the go. Solutions are available for businesses of all sizes, and the majority are built to adjust to increasing demands as your business grows.
Lead Generation and Quoting
Capturing leads can be one of the biggest challenges in business. There are a number of tools available to gather consumer data, including traditional Google AdWords campaigns and email services such as MailChimp. LeadPages and other landing page generators can be used to grow your contact list during specific promotions.
Even when you gather information from large numbers of interested consumers, there’s no guarantee that those leads will turn into conversions. Using lead generation and nuture tools to put together and send fast, accurate quotes helps you weed out the prospects that are worth pursuing and concentrate your energy where it’s most likely to produce profitable relationships.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
CRM tools take the customer data you gather and put it in a format that’s easy to organize and search. Platforms such as SalesForce and Insightly simplify the task of tracking and follow up with new contacts. Some tools import information about contacts from business or social profiles to generate a comprehensive overview of your audience. You can also track engagement and use the statistics to plan targeted social campaigns.
If you frequently find yourself asking where the day went or lamenting that there’s not enough time in your schedule to finish all that needs to get done, you need a reliable time management program. It’s hard enough to keep track of your own time without having to worry about how employees are spending theirs, but with apps like Harvest and Toggl, you don’t have to. These programs track individual and team time so that you can accurately bill clients for hours spent and easily generate employee paychecks. Link your timekeeping app with billing and invoicing solutions to streamline the entire chain of processes.
Project and Resource Management
To maximize efficiency on collaborative projects, you need one app that handles organization, task delegation, goal setting, prioritization, team communications and file management. WorkflowMax is a popular platform for this, but there are many more solutions available to meet specific project needs. Useful functions include:
- User-friendly dashboard
- Real-time updating from computers or mobile devices
- Cross-platform application interfaces
- The ability to pull information from other apps and systems
Many also include time and resource management functions to ensure that all of your teams are operating at peak efficiency. If not, a separate resource management app allows you to see where you can better allocate both physical and employee resources. When you know exactly how much inventory is required to fulfill orders and where staff needs to be assigned to complete projects on time, you can minimize loss and increase productivity.
Invoicing and Finances
Xero, QuickBooks Online, Zoho Invoice and Hiveage are just a few of the apps you can use to monitor your finances. Take care of all the accounting “paperwork” using a single digital platform, track receivables to determine where money is tied up and get clear performance reports with just a few clicks. Identify aging invoices, send reminders and get the money you need faster by providing multiple payment options. If you can combine invoicing solutions with your CRM and time management software, billing will become much simpler on your end.
Connecting the Dots for Business Success
As you research systems to simplify the way you do business, you’ll discover that many handle multiple related processes, and those that don’t will provide ways to integrate with other applications for fast data transfer and better functionality. In time, you’ll learn how to take full advantage of the reports generated by each app to create a 360-degree view of everything happening in your business. The insights you draw from this information will show you where you can make adjustments to increase productivity, improve customer relations and minimize lost time to facilitate the greatest amount of growth.