Can you remember what it was like to not have a mobile phone? Although we may harbour some gripes about our increasing dependence on technology, it is difficult to imagine leaving the house without this object of security and resourcefulness in our pocket. Sure, we might take the odd Sunday OTG (that’s off-the-grid, to you and me), but for the majority of us, the advantages modern technology brings to our daily lives are simply overwhelming.
This is our personal experience of technology, but what about in the competitive realm that is business? Obviously, technology provides advantages here too, but, more than that, it is utterly crucial for growth as well as basic survival.
Don’t get us wrong; the successful modern workplace still relies on people. In fact, it is fuelled by knowledgeable individuals using their time effectively on tasks that produce real results for the growing business. This sounds fairly obvious and straightforward, that is until you break it down.
What defines a knowledgeable worker? Are the majority of daily tasks directly affecting the business’s goals? Or is a lot of time spent on menial tasks that must be done to get to the ‘’real’’ work? If this is so, how can people be truly effective? And how can a business grow when the brains it relies on are wasted in this vicious cycle?
Today’s business technology can provide answers to each of these concerns. How? By gathering and relaying knowledge in the form of real-time data to inform daily decision-making and by automating tedious office housework to free up employees for the high-value tasks. This is what makes growth possible. That is why we have made up a quick list of some of the most noteworthy productivity tools on the market that will help you take your business to the next level!
How do you currently track your projects? Valuable information and time are often lost in emails and quick conversation by the water fountain. Trello is a project management tool that keeps everything in the one place. It uses the Kanban system, developed by Toyota for lean processes and just-in-time manufacturing.
With Trello, each project has its own Board and the tasks to complete the project are organised by Cards, which can be edited in real-time and moved across the board until the project reaches its completion. The interface resembles sticky notes on a whiteboard, keeping it simple for everyone to use while remaining productive. Your whole team can get involved, adding comments, images, files, checklists, and deadlines to tasks during the entire process.
Project management tools, such as Trello, allow for real-time collaboration. Everyone on the team is kept up to date with what is going on, and momentum is maintained by the drag-and-drop function, assigned accountability and explicit deadlines. The particularly great thing about Trello is that it is free and available on all devices.
The power of unified communication cannot be underestimated because, after all, effective communication is the bedrock of good business. Yes, we all have email accounts, but emails have their own specific (somewhat stuffy) culture. The user-friendly interface instant messaging apps such as Slack provide results in more streamlined conversations.
In Slack, communication is succinct and actionable because of the instant aspect. This increased response time leaves email in the dust. Of course, email is still necessary for external communications, but, for your teams, Slack can greatly increase efficiency as the crux of important decisions is unearthed faster. However, Slack offers more than just texting for business. It allows for presence management by showing who is available online in real-time, supports file and image sharing while also organising multiple conversations over numerous streams.
Cloud technology is empowering the smallest of businesses to push their production capacity further than ever before. Due is an invoicing software that takes the hassle out of chasing payments. Here all your invoices are organised by what stage they are currently at, Sent, Received, Saved or Paid. Invoices can be set to send recurrently, and you can even automate late payment reminders!
With notifications to remind you what payments are due and billing timers to keep the cash flowing, this is an accounting solution that not only simplifies the nuts and bolts of the invoicing process but it also helpfully communicates with the user and their clients directly. Due is free for up to three invoices a year. After that the most expensive plan is only $49 a year.
Can’t find an automation tool that does what you need? Why not make your own ‘’recipe’’ of automated actions with IFTTT? IFTTT stands for ‘’if this then that’’ and this cloud service offers a library of simple automated processes, or Applets, to make your workday easier. If you still can’t find one that answers your specific needs, you also have the opportunity to make your own. Do you need every email attachment to be automatically downloaded as a PDF into a certain folder? Or do you want every new email contact to be listed in an Excel document? There are Applets on IFTTT to ease the pain of all kinds of tedious tasks, and the great thing is this service easily integrates with hundreds of third-party tools. But more importantly, is it free. Yes, it is!
If you are not the techy type, the word ‘‘automation’’ can sound complex and alien, but we hope we’ve showed you that with some simple and very inexpensive tools your SME can flourish while competing in the modern digital landscape.
Are you ready to take your SME to the next level? Make sure to give us a call on 01 664 4190 or contact us for a chat about your current IT infrastructure. We are always happy to offer some sound advice on how you can grow your business with productivity tools.