Whether you’re a multinational corporation with 500+ employees or a SME with fewer than 10, the efficiency and accuracy of your business processes can impact everything you dofrom customer satisfaction and brand reputation, to revenue and profit.

For small businesses, resources are often limited, which means they cannot afford to spend money on tools that won’t encourage business growth. 

With this in mind, more and more SMEs are investing in applications to optimize business performance. The problem is, where do you start? There are countless desktop applications, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) solutions, all of which claim to increase process efficiency while cutting costs. 

First things first, what industry does your business operate in? This will immediately narrow down the applications that are relevant to you. Then, strip back your operations to your core processes, as these are the ones you need to focus on. 

Increase Accuracy and Efficiency of Number Crunching  

For many SMEs, accounting is a necessary bore. It’s a vital process that needs to be completed to ensure businesses are operating within their means, however number crunching isn’t everyone’s idea of fun. Small businesses would therefore be wise to use accounting applications. With many available, SMEs must prioritize solutions which can automate routine, time consuming tasks as well as the more complex accounting activities. Reconciliation between payments, invoices and bank accounts, for example, is a time consuming undertaking that is vulnerable to human error. SMEs should also think about integration with existing applications, such as invoicing software, to avoid having to replace solutions due to incompatibility. 

Ensure Business Growth 

Ask anyone from a sales background and they’ll say that having a strong pipeline is vital to success. At a time when markets are becoming more competitive, it’s not about knowing where your next sale is going to come from, but instead where the third, fourth and fifth will. With this is mind, SMEs should utilize applications which will help them keep on top of their prospects and clearly detail the stage of any potential deal. Many small businesses will have sales teams that may consist of one or two people, and expecting them to manually keep on top of prospects and long list of contacts could result in lost opportunities. 

Regain Control of Projects  

Often the key to a successful project is in how well it has been managed. Are items where they need to be? Is expenditure exceeding the planned budget? These are all very common problems for businesses and making sure everything is running smoothly is a tough ask. Project management applications can help, though. Project size will help determine which application to choose, but SMEs should definitely prioritize solutions which provide all collaborators with full visibility of the project and a platform to discuss plans. Additional features such as milestone management will allow all parties to see if a project is on track. Many project management applications charge per project, so SMEs aren’t tied in to long contracts and can simply choose to use them when undertaking larger projects.

Improve Collaboration and Productivity 

As businesses become increasingly mobile, the constraints of paper-based communications is becoming even more apparent. Not only are paper documents inaccessible to anyone outside of the office, but they also restrict collaboration and productivity. As such, cloud document sharing applications are a great option for SMEs. Documents are stored in one place and can be viewed and worked on from any location. This provides users with 360° real-time visibility of all essential items, meaning they can see if a document is being amended, removing the opportunity for the accidental repetition of work. Many cloud storage applications provide accounts with small capacities for free, with further gigabytes (GBs) available at a cost. 

Take Better Care Of Your Employees 

When it comes to looking after your current employees or finding new ones, the HR department is a vital cog in the business wheel. Whether it’s one person or a larger team, HR software can make a significant difference to business efficiency. A good HR application is one that covers all aspects of the HR job role, including training and development, health and safety compliance, performance monitoring, solutions for payroll and applicant management. Security is also a feature SMEs must think about in order to remain compliant with data privacy regulations. With this in mind, cloud-based solutions represent the least complex way of ensuring compliance. The cloud service provider (CSP) will have up-to-date cybersecurity measures, and SMEs can apply restrictions to accounts to ensure only HR can access them. Cost is normally a monthly subscription with the amount determined by the number of employees.

It’s undeniable that business applications have the potential to help SMEs run their processes much more efficiently, improving productivity, customer satisfaction and sales, and cutting costs – but only if they are the right applications for your business needs. The main inhibitor is the way SMEs adopt and invest in applications without working out if they even need them. Ultimately, if you invest in the right applications, you will be provided with the foundations needed to successfully compete against your more established counterparts. 

What about you, have you adopted business applications yet? 


Ralph Mezzoni

Ralph Mezzoni

Director, Product Marketing - Mailroom Solutions

Ralph Mezzoni is the Director of Product Marketing for Mailroom Solutions at Quadient USA.  He has spent over a decade helping to develop new technologies to optimize mailing processes while minimizing mailing costs for customers across the United States.

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