Productivity Tools Abound If You Know What to Look For
If you want to cut back on expenses, or even find extra money to save for a rainy day, then finding ways to increase productivity is vital. It just makes sense; when you accomplish more with the same resources you can generate more sales. The resulting extra profits translate to a greater cash inflow.
There are many free or affordable tools that can help you to do more without immediately increasing the size of your team. Here are some ideas to help you get started.
Office Productivity Tools Are Plentiful
Most office tasks require a great deal of grunt work, but there are countless software tools that can dramatically reduce the boredom and increase productivity.
Start by examining the software that you’re already using. Are you making full use of its features? The software that I currently use for my writing is chock-full of features that I continue to discover. One of my absolute favorites is the macro function because it allows me to reduce some mind-numbing, time-consuming, repetitive tasks to just a few quick keystrokes
Similarly, using suites of products typically allows you to share information between software products. Spreadsheets, charts and graphs instantly convert to perfectly-formatted word processing tables, and most data is easily transferrable between applications. Enter information once, and use it everywhere.
Additional available tools zip through just about any task that you can imagine. Voice-recognition software that speeds up writing tasks for poor typists, and online meeting software ensures good attendance no matter where participants reside.
You might even consider software that focuses solely on personal productivity. Believe it or not, software is available that tracks your computer time, identifying useful time versus distractions and monitoring inactivity times. Taking too many breaks (or watching too many funny cat videos) reduces your productivity score while alerting you to areas in need of improvement.
To get started, an online search for “office productivity tools” will tell you what’s available.
Make Sure That You Manage Projects Effectively
Some products don’t directly focus on your core operations but they help you to run those operations more effectively. Project management software, which keeps everything on track for the entire team, is an example of a tool that acts as a productivity umbrella over everything that you do.
Whether you’re trying to ensure that you always have sufficient inventory on hand, or you need to keep track of custom client projects, you need one place where everyone on the project can see what has been done and what needs to be done. .
Many good project management packages are available, but make sure that the one you choose aligns with your company’s methodology. The right software will not over-burden the team members who use it. For example, unless all team members have easy access to computers, perhaps finding software that functions fully from smart phones may be the way to go. Also, avoid any software that is so detailed and complicated that it requires extensive training time while adding too much time to every task.
Up-to-Date Numbers are Efficient Numbers
Keeping a close watch over your daily financials can tell you many things about your business. There is great value in gaining a quick snapshot about how you’re doing overall, identifying products or services that are not profitable, or pointing to customers that are not paying their bills.
The availability of up-to-the-minute numbers in-house, translates to productivity because you can focus your activities to the right areas. Additionally, instantly-available data identifies issues early, before they become major calamities. For this, you need full-featured, easy-to-use bookkeeping software.
Of courses, this does not mean that you must handle your financials all by yourself. By all means, hire a bookkeeper if it saves you time and increases accuracy. You should also strongly consider retaining an accountant, who, in addition to doing your taxes, can provide vital advice that you need. Just work with them to ensure that they frequently update new information — and that you use compatible software that allows you to check in as frequently as necessary.
Sales Can Be More Productive, Too
What can be more productive than increasing sales? The chances are that your sales team has plenty of experience with online meetings at this point. Hopefully, you’re also using Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software that allows you to keep much-needed information about customers and prospects in one place. Here are some other tools that can make the sales process more effective:
- Calendar software that improves the scheduling process
- Sales-closing software that collects signatures and more
- Collaboration tools that enable team members and customers to work together
- Proposal software that speeds up the process by providing templates and other tools
- Time trackers, which record time without cumbersome manual entry
Of course, this is just a sampling. A search for “productivity tools for sales” will reveal many more.
Productivity Tools Are Great … If You Can Afford Them
More productivity is invaluable, but you need to choose tools that do not cost more than the value of the extra income that you expect to gain. Even free tools are not really free. You have to consider the cost of learning how to use them, planning the best ways to use them, and even the price of tempting add-ons.
That said, most savvy small business owners understand the importance of doing a cost-benefit analysis that considers all underlying costs, including the less-obvious ones. Don’t jump in just because a tool looks pretty cool. If you have a clear vision of how you can use them to achieve greater productivity, however, they can help you achieve your dreams.
Expect the right tools to ultimately enhance your business’ savings or help pay for better equipment or more employees. Good news: as productivity helps you save money and increase sales, maybe you can soon buy that diamond-studded popcorn maker that you’ve been admiring.