Better tools are supposed to make work easier and workers more productive. Why, then, do many seem to clog up processes more than accelerating them? Why has business software typically lacked the usability and attractiveness of consumer software? Makers of business platforms may mean well. But, when they don’t fully understand the needs of their users, they inevitably create solutions to the wrong problems. It means there is software dragging small business owners down right now and they may not realize it.
Companies don’t need more technology for the sake of more technology. Most employees would rather track their work with pen and paper than deal with software that causes more problems than it solves. Business software acts as an accelerant. And, in situations where it doesn’t do the job well, software only serves to accelerate companies and their employees in the wrong direction. Even worse, if a team doesn’t like the software they’re using, it will never be fully integrated.
To address this issue, companies must be diligent about the types of software they adopt and invest in for their teams. Free yourself, your business, and your employees from the constraints of bad software. Ensure that every piece of technology you bring on board fulfills a specific and useful purpose. No single tool can do everything. But, by supplementing your talented team with a few smart solutions, you can have everything you need to thrive.
Several vendors sell tools to manage your workflows. But, many programs that get in the way of productivity as much as they facilitate it. You don’t need something to tell you what to do. Instead, get something that empowers you to keep track of your workflows. It should also help customize your processes and optimize your operations to get the most from every moment.
Check out monday.com or Airtable for smarter, more efficient, and less convoluted workflow customization. monday.com offers a clean and customizable platform. It helps users plan, organize, and track workflows in a single collaborative space. You can switch things up whenever you need and build your own apps with work blocks. Plus, it enables you to track progress with easy-to-understand overviews and trend analyses. When users can design their own workflows, they are better able to stay on track.
On Airtable, you can mix and match content blocks to create an app-like environment where teams can visualize, plan, and analyze. Airtable’s templates make it easy to get started with a new content calendar, project track, or whatever else you need to manage.
As you evaluate workflow customization options, don’t just talk to department leaders. Let the frontline employees who do the heavy lifting on individual projects provide their feedback. Something that works for upper management may prove unwieldy for the rest of the team.
You know what you know. Does your team know, too? Are you sure you remember everything you know or do things get lost in the shuffle? Information management tools may look like fancy notebooks. Don’t be fooled by simplicity. The best information platforms help everyone from business leaders to bloggers track, store, and organize important information. Besides, you don’t need something complicated. It’s about having something that works.
Evernote is a great example of an information management tool for good reason. Evernote users can add and manage notes from any location on any device. They can also comment on the notes of others, share information with a click, and discuss projects as if everyone were sitting in the same room.
If you want an even simpler solution, check out Google Keep. While Evernote offers a more comprehensive solution, Keep allows users to save and manage notes with fewer bells and whistles. You can even set location-based reminders for when you’re on the go.
Everyone talks, but when everyone talks at the same time, things get complicated. Internal communication tools help employees talk and plan instantly without cluttering up public channels or forgetting to include vital team members. At the moment, three chat applications stand out above the rest: Slack, Discord, and Chanty.
Slack has carved an impressive niche as the go-to communications solution for businesses. With three tiers of plans ranging from free to $12.50 per user per month, companies can spend as much or as little as they need. Paid plans include important features like screen sharing and multi-person video conferencing. Slack channels allow users to keep conversations organized.
Though more of a consumer-focused product than Slack, Discord owns a decent share of company communications, as well. Popular with gamers, Discord uses a structure similar to slack to organize conversations into silos. Some features that require a paid plan on Slack, like unlimited storage, come free with Discord. Organizations with diverse needs or bigger teams may find Discord lacking, though.
A newer contender, Chanty, addresses communication a little differently. Chanty combines a file organization concept with a virtual office chatroom to help team members feel connected. You can even import your history from Slack if you decide to switch. All three tools offer free versions and trials, so take your time to find the right one for your company.
Customer Relationship Management
Every business in 2020 can and should use a CRM. Why wouldn’t you want to keep track of your prospects and customers to streamline communication, identify upsell opportunities, and spot trends that could help you grow your business? While most business owners understand the perks of a CRM, anyone who has dealt with one for long can share a few horror stories about getting stuck between the cracks.
CRM solutions that cater to enterprise companies usually come packed with tons of unnecessary features that bog down small companies more than they help them. A good CRM for a growing business doesn’t need a ton of bells and whistles.
Zoho and HubSpot both hit the sweet spot for small companies with big ambitions. With Zoho CRM, you get a simple solution that takes care of all your CRM basics, plus options to add other Zoho tools down the road if you need. You can take advantage of live chat, lead scoring, and other easy-to-use features to take your sales game from amateur to elite.
HubSpot brags about its “100% free forever” CRM, and its solution holds up against some of the biggest players in the game. Great data tracking and visualization, pipeline management, and marketing tools combine to create a free solution that feels like a premium option. HubSpot prioritizes usability for everyone, so you don’t have to put everyone through tons of training to get started.
Get Better Solutions
You have enough to worry about, running your business and leading your team. Quit wasting time on software that doesn’t value yours. Strip away the unnecessary fluff, ditch software that adds to your workload, and get better solutions that treat you like a person with places to be.