In recent years, more and more tools have become available for businesses to use to improve all aspects of their operations. The question is, which of these tools are vital in today’s business world and economic climate and which are simply window dressing?
1) Conference Calling
Conference calling is absolutely essential in the current business world. It has become economically unfeasible to bring together all the stakeholders – colleagues, clients, suppliers – for a physical meeting with any kind of regularity, given the number of people working from home and the global nature of business today. However, the benefits of collaborative discussion cannot be underplayed; brainstorming and the communication of responsibilities and requirements are both more effective when people can discuss them as a group. Conference calling allows these benefits to be gained without the high costs of travel and time taken to attend a physical meeting. Conference calling can be highly affordable, with suppliers such as conferencenow (www.conferencenow.co.uk) offering conference calling for the price of a phone call.
2) Collaborative Document Sharing and Editing
Google Docs (www.docs.google.com) and Microsoft’s OneNote software are examples of collaborative document editing tools. These software tools remove the time delays inherent in documents being emailed back and forth, changes being made and the original document needing to be updated. They also remove the danger of miscommunication or important information accidentally not being included. Stakeholders can access documents and see the edits that are being made in real time, add their own changes and never worry that they may be working off an out-of-date draft.
3) Customer Relationship Management Software
These tools allow for the day to day information that a business collects to be integrated, cross-referenced and accessible to whoever needs it. This allows for greater marketing, customer service, technical support and sales efficiency. It also means that bottlenecks in the sales process can be easily identified and tackled, while successful strategies can be more widely implemented. Tools such as Workbooks (www.workbooks.com) allow you access your CRM system on the move through their web based interface.
4) Social Media Presence Management Software
Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, blogs and many other social media sites are now a common way for businesses to increase their public presence and connect with customers. However, with so many different sites to keep track of, it can be difficult to stay up to date with all of these different areas. Tools such as Postling (www.postling.com) allow you to manage all of your social media sites simultaneously, even from a smartphone so that you can stay up to date with social media sites on the move.
5) An Up-To-Date, Informative Company Website
The internet is a huge player in how many people get their information on companies, products and services. If people want to contact your company or find out information about the products and services that you provide, their first stop will often be your company website. Without a website, or with a website that seems like it is out of date or does not have the information that customers wish to find, you will automatically be on the back foot compared to more tech-savvy competitors.
Matt Smith – Freelance business, conference calling and technology blogger.