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Choosing the Best Software for Business
Business efficiency derives from the handling of data.
While cash is the fuel your business needs to run, data is the lubricant in the motor.
The good news is that, for the most part, business data handling is free or low cost. All that is required is a little thought and use of the right tools.
What software you need depends on what you do and how you do it. The important thing to consider is not which software application to use, but how the different applications handle your data. Most businesses add applications when they become necessary, such as payroll when the business expands beyond one man.
That’s fine, but before you add a payroll package consider what data passes through it and what you can do elsewhere in the business with that same data. Hours worked may well be useful for detailed invoicing and it will certainly help when you need to analyse business performance.
Instead of adding another application to overcome a particular issue, think about what data you have, what you want to do with it and, if a new process generates or collects new data, where else you may want to use it. If you want to put it simply just ask yourself – ‘How does it integrate with my business?’
Thinking the process through will show you that a well organised electronic filing system is far more valuable than a bunch of unconnected applications, often containing large amounts of duplicated data.
Storage of quite large amounts of data can be comfortably achieved using free cloud storage. Most cloud services have a free entry level. Just registering a Gmail account or Outlook.com account will provide you with several Gbytes of storage space.
How you store your data will determine what hardware you need. Some software applications will only run on particular machines, so selecting certain software packages may restrict your choice of computers. Having said that, using cloud storage allows you to access your data with any device from a desktop PC, to a laptop, a tablet or even a smart phone. You may want to own a high powered desktop computer, or a sleek powerful laptop, or even a gold plated, diamond studded iPad. But none of these will make your business run any smoother. Most business computing can be done using a low price seven inch or eight inch tablet and cloud services. If you want to be seen with a computer that has a bit more pizazz fine, but remember that has more to do with image than it does with performance.
The term ‘data’ in this context covers everything from orders and invoices, to letters and advertising, to accounts and process instructions and includes details of customers and suppliers. Data is generated from business software solutions and the choice of software determines the quality of the data. All of this information must be available to the right people at the right moment in time in any business process or the process stops until the data becomes available. Careful choice of software solutions is essential to ensure data accuracy and integration and reduce data duplication. Updating, say, a customer name and address should not be done twice or three times when once will do.
On demand access to essential data will lead to improved efficiency, reduced costs and increased professionalism. Good data management need not be expensive. On this site our free guides will show you how to implement an information strategy for your business.