The modern business must take advantage of useful tools to run at peak efficiency. Some tools improve productivity, while others remove excess downtime among employees or lower the risk of human error. If you’re looking for efficient business practices to streamline your venture, the following eight options offer excellent places to start.
Efficient Business Practices to Focus On
Virtual Phone Systems
According to a Gallup survey, as of 2016, 43 percent of employees work at home at least part of the time. When managing remote employees, you need a way to keep them connected to their offices, especially if they hold customer-facing roles. Virtual phone systems is an efficient business practice that connects a business phone line with a remote worker’s phone, whether it’s a cell phone or landline phone.
With a virtual phone system, you can use a business line, avoid distributing employees’ private numbers, and keep up a professional front. Plus, your in-office employees won’t have to waste time transferring calls to employees in the field or asking customers to call other numbers. You gain credibility and efficiency in one useful tool.
Customer Relationship Management Software
Relationships matter more than ever in the business world, but tracking customer relationships can become cumbersome. Customer relationship management (CRM) software automates the process and helps you run your business more efficiently. This software aggregates data from many sources, including the following:
- Information about customer interactions
- Marketing data from customer touch points
- Lead journeys
- Customers at every stage of the sales funnel
- Client support issues and interactions
You can use CRM software to automate data-related processes. Employees don’t have to waste time entering data into spreadsheets or building extensive databases. Efficient business practices like this time-saving feature allows you to finish more projects during the workday and saves your staff members from repetitive assignments.
Many solopreneurs and small businesses avoid investing in software because they don’t want to increase their overhead. Fortunately, several free online organizational tools exist. Applications such as Slack, Trello, and Evernote allow businesses to organize processes and projects, and they feature rollouts from a single convenient place.
For example, if you use Trello, you can create lists of projects, each of which contains cards. Fill the cards with steps that employees need to carry out or deadlines they need to meet. Efficient business practices like this allow employees to move the cards to the next space on the list, creating an efficient workflow.
Cloud-Based Data Storage
Keeping your data in the cloud helps you boost business efficiency by making data available to all your employees, no matter where they work. If you manage remote employees, they can use their access credentials to view data in the cloud without having to return to the office.
Further, when you update information in the cloud, the updates sync with other devices connected to the same account. You can use many cloud-based software programs to improve business efficiency, from simple data storage to accounting programs.
If you decide to switch from locally hosted software to cloud-based solutions, keep security in mind. Choose programs that allow you to set permissions individually for each employee and that use two-stage authentication.
Business Lines of Credit
You can’t always predict when you may need a quick cash influx. However, cash flow can be one of the biggest hindrances in efficiency for small businesses. The adage that “it takes money to make money” is certainly the case in business, so making sure that you have cash readily available can be the difference maker in whether your business succeeds or fails.
When you receive a business line of credit from a funding source, whether as a business loan or credit card, you can tap available cash to cover payroll, order more inventory, expand your business, or capitalize on a revenue opportunity. Since you already have the line of credit, you don’t have to wait for lengthy approval processes to end.
A business line of credit works similarly to a credit card. You borrow against your credit limit, then you pay back the money. Lines of credit tend to have lower interest rates than credit cards, though, so you’ll pay less for every dollar you borrow.
Businesses can collect data on almost any topic from ecommerce to marketing, but if you can’t analyze the data and form conclusions, the data itself becomes almost useless. Analytics software automates data processing so that you don’t have to waste time and resources on the task making it a very efficient business practice to implement.
For example, marketing analytics can show you how well your marketing and advertising efforts are working. The same goes for programs that analyze your accounts receivable or your logistics processes. As you collect more data and feed this data into the software, the program can give you more well-rounded information about your business.
Additionally, as you collect data, you can make small and large changes to the way you do business. Instead of waiting until the end of the quarter to analyze your accounting books, you can adjust processes as you go to improve business efficiency.
Employee Engagement Apps
A Dale Carnegie Training infographic reveals that companies with engaged employees outperform their competitors by as much as 202 percent. An engaged employee focuses on work while in the office, feels committed to the company vision and purpose, and remains loyal to an employer for longer time periods.
Employee engagement apps can help inspire employees to build bonds with one another, give feedback on new projects, and complete training modules. Some apps also come with quizzes and other fun modules that encourage interaction and promote healthy competition.
Time sheets used to involve spreadsheets or word-processing tables that employees had to fill out at the beginning and end of their shifts. Times have changed. Modern time-tracking software can improve business efficiency on several levels.
Some of the most popular programs, such as Hubstaff, take screenshots as employees work to show their progress on specific tasks. They automatically register when employees take breaks, get distracted from assignments, or leave their desks.
These types of software do more than simply help employers keep workers on tasks. They also offer broad data about how long specific projects take to complete and how much time employees spend on particular software programs. Use the data to change internal processes for top efficiency. For example, if employees often experience bottlenecks while performing a specific task, you may find ways to automate that task and increase productivity.
Business Efficiency Brings Profits
The tools described above are efficient business practices that can make your business more streamlined and profitable. Use them to gather information and to improve your business processes over time. You may be surprised by the changes you see soon after these efficient business practices are implemented at your small business.