The market for business software is positively saturated. If there’s a task a business could conceivably need to accomplish, chances are that there’s a software solution designed to assist with that. But investing in too much software can easily become expensive, and it can be hard to parse which software components are crucial and which are extraneous. Below are some of the important pieces of software that businesses of any size and industry should integrate into their model.
Online Meeting Software
Skype has become synonymous with business meetings, and that’s unlikely to change anytime soon. While their video and audio conferencing services are undoubtedly the centerpieces of the platform, they offer a broad ecosystem that includes file sharing, instant messaging, and screen sharing. But while Skype is best known as an office tool, it can work for traditional retail outlets and restaurants as well. Its conference services can minimize the hassle of getting all your staff in one place and improve productivity in the process, and the fact that up to 25 people can engage in a conference with the free plan makes it a no brainer for modestly sized businesses.
Whether you’re looking to forego the need for a dedicated financial advisor or simply automate much of your bookkeeping, there’s software that can handle that. Keeping your books in order is essential for businesses of any size. QuickBooks is the name to beat here, but they come with some distinct disadvantages for smaller businesses. Between their complicated interface, their extraneous wealth of features, and the cost of buying into new upgrades, this platform may simply be too powerful for some small businesses. If that’s the case, you may want to check out some of the alternatives.
Dispute Management Software
There’s little doubt that online transactions have made life easier for merchants and consumers, but this new form of payment comes with its own difficulties. Whether you’re a brick and mortar retailer or an online company, you need to have protections in place for when there’s a problem with a customer payment. Software like PEGA and Concourse provides automated dispute management solutions that make it easy to coordinate with the bank, deal with the disputes through every stage of their life cycles, and make sure that all behavior is within the confines of federal regulations. It may not be the most exciting software solution, but it’s a practical necessity for any business’ financial security.
Email Marketing Software
Traditional marketing is quickly becoming irrelevant, and any business that wants to stay competitive in the years to come needs to start developing an email marketing plan. Not only it is a more effective way to reach your targeted demographics, but it’s also eminently cost-efficient. Mailchimp is hands down the leader in this field, and their basic services are completely free to use. They also offer a range of paid features that you can mix and match to accommodate the unique demands of your business model.
Office Suite Software
No matter what type of business you run, chances are that you’ll need the components of an office suite at some point. Compiling together a word processor, spreadsheet tool, presentation creator, email client, and more, programs like Microsoft Office are something of a Swiss army knife for business owners. And while MS Office 360 is justifiably still the leader as far as these platforms are concerned, the new subscription model can become pricey. If the scale of this platform is more than your company needs, you may want to look into cheap or free alternatives like Google’s G Suite or the open source LibreOffice.
Customer Relationship Management
The best businesses make the most of the data available to them to provide actionable data on their customers and then use that to create a better overall experience. A CRM platform like Freshworks can offer far more information than you could find by traditional means. A good CRM compiles together information from all of your important communications channels and provides business owners with the analysis they need to build a strong business plan built around the specific preferences of their customers.