Software plays an essential role in every type and size of business. It’s used for almost every aspect of the business from finances and accounting to planning and marketing. In fact, it’s rare to find a business that doesn’t require much software for its in-house tasks and all its web-based projects. Besides the most commonly used software for general office work, there is also specialized business software, usually referred to as vertical market software, that is industry-specific.
Let’s take a look at some software tools that you could use if you are growing a medium to large business or just starting out in a small business.
Software for Growing A Business
1. Business Intelligence (BI) software
Business Intelligence software acquires business data by retrieving, analysing, transforming, and reporting relevant information. This data is usually read from stored data.
Two examples of popular Business Intelligence tools are Looker and Tableau. Looker has a simple dashboard where users can access tools to stay up-to-date on what’s happening within the organisation. Since these tools are interactive, they facilitate collaboration, making it easier for key players to make the best decisions based on real-time data.
Looker works with a wide range of SQL infrastructures and can provide customisable analytics. Meanwhile, Tableau has developed a solid reputation as a data visualisation tool. Data can be presented in a simple, elegant way that makes it easy to understand even if someone has no training as an analyst.
2. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software.
Before the development of ERP software businesses had to work with different databases for different computer functions. As a result, the interpretation of common information between two departments might differ because they were drawing on slightly different databases. Reconciliation between the different interpretations was necessary for more accurate statistics, calculations, and forecasts.
ERP software, at its basic level, uses the same database throughout the organisation, which results in the integration of various functions so that every department’s computer functions work in a complete, harmonised, and integrated system. The result is that information and processes are streamlined across the whole organisation. A shared database makes it possible to support numerous computing functions by diverse business units.
3. Software Asset Management (SAM)
This software helps an organisation to manage, deploy, maintain, use, and discard its software applications. In other words, it monitors and maintains its collection of hardware and software to optimise their operations. This dedicated software records and tracks assets from the time they are procured to the time they are disposed of.
Software for Starting a Business
1. Software Office Suites
Software office suites are the backbone of any organisation. Although they are not as formidable as, say, business intelligence software, which can determine a company’s business edge in a highly competitive industry, they still play a vital role in day-to-day business affairs.
Whether you run a one-person business or a manage a multinational corporation, the humble office suite serves as a go-to resource for keeping your basic operations running smoothly. Just as a good carpenter doesn’t always need power tools, but just a claw hammer, a screwdriver, pry bars, pliers, tapes, squares, and levels, so too every office worker just needs a word processor and a spreadsheet, as well as presentation software, like PowerPoint, or database software, like Access, for getting basic work done.
2. Small Business Accounting Software
With so many different types of excellent accounting software available, either as software you can access directly from your hard-drive or via the Internet it can be hard to decide which ones to use. To begin, read our review of the ‘Best UK Small Business Accounting Software‘ here.
A Business News article by Lori Fairbanks, Choosing the Right Small Business Accounting Software, advises weighing three factors: costs, usability, and features. When it comes to costs, you have to decide between inexpensive software that only has basic accounting features or more expensive software that provides a wide range of extra features.
When it comes to usability, the main decision is whether you would prefer to have a desktop version or a cloud-based version. Finally, when it comes to features, you have to make decisions based on all the things you need the software to do for you.
In closing, one key idea when buying software is to decide whether you want a desktop version or a cloud version. The main advantage of a cloud-based software model is that the user always has access to the latest versions. For instance, if you or your staff travel a great deal on business, then software you can access on a mobile app or from a client’s computer might be the most useful.