Running a business used to mean stacks of paperwork and overflowing inboxes, but thanks to advancements in technology things have changed dramatically.
These days there are digital tools to help business owners manage tasks across most areas of operations. Here are some key business tools and applications to help streamline communications, project management, social media, data management and more.
Slack is a communications tool available on web, iPhone, and Android designed to streamline internal communications and foster collaboration. Conversations are organised in ‘channels’ by project, client or team, or private channels can be set up for sensitive information.
Files can be uploaded and stored in Slack either from your computer or by using the handy Google Drive Integration. Other useful integrations include in-app Skype calls and Wunderlist to facilitate voice calls and task management.
The free version includes 10 apps or service integrations, 5GB of storage for the team and searchable message archives. Slack’s reasonably priced paid plans offer significantly more data and extra features like group voice and video calls and enterprise assurance/integration options.
Read about how we use Slack here.
Trello is a project management tool that gives an overview of all ongoing projects within an organisation. It’s a very simple and visual way to show the status of various projects from initial interactions to writing proposals and finally launching a project.
One of the most useful ways to use Trello is as a project progression status board to provide a high-level overview of project status. Trello’s interface is based around a cascading card system where cards are added or assigned to lists. The software lends itself to agile project management frameworks like SCRUM and is a fantastic internal tool.
With free, business class and enterprise pricing models there is a package to suit every organisation.
If you use social media for your business you’ll know how time consuming - and sometimes impossible - it is to keep your feeds populated, especially when you’re away from your desk.
Buffer is a web and mobile-based social media automation app which allows users to schedule posts across the six main social networks. Connect your channels, select your posting times and add your articles - either directly into the app or by using Buffer’s Chrome extension.
The free version gives you one social account per platform and 10 posts per day, per account. There are five further plans from Awesome to Enterprise which range from $10/month to $600/month and offer increasing numbers of social accounts, team members and posts.
More on social media management apps here.
File sharing & storage
Cloud-based tools that aid collaboration are becoming the norm and Google is hard to beat.
G Suite (formerly Google Apps for Work) is a set of tools which allows businesses to communicate with teams, store files and collaborate with colleagues.
Combining domain management, user management, email, calendar, instant messaging, and shared documents, G Suite blows the competition out of the water. It’s even possible to create a company intranet through Google Sites, with no design or programming experience.
The basic plan starts at $5/user per month for 30GB of cloud storage and the business plan offers unlimited cloud storage for $10/user per month, along with enhanced features.
It’s vital to understand how people find your website and how they use it if you want to maximise site performance, and while there are many website analytics tools out there Google Analytics is hard to beat.
By implementing a Google tracking code businesses can track and measure their marketing and SEO efforts. Google Analytics provides a range of detailed metrics including how you acquired visitors, their path throughout your site, site loading speed and which devices are being used to view it.
The free version is more than adequate for most small/medium sized businesses. Premium service, Google 360, can handle far bigger volumes of data and multiple websites.
Check out our beginner's guide to Google Analytics written for The Guardian here.
Managing employees and their data is a crucial part of any business but can be a huge time drain without the right tools.
Kin HR is an intuitive online tool which streamlines HR for entire teams. It has a good balance between features and price and is a simple way to handle employee file and data management, time-off tracking and onboarding new employees at a fraction of the cost of big enterprise HR systems. Kin also makes it easy for staff to be self-sufficient by allowing them to upload persona data, requests and tasks.
Kin HR is well thought out, enjoyable to use and with an affordable and simple pricing scheme ($5 per user per month) Kin HR is great value for money.
This is just a small selection of the many digital tools for businesses out there, but some of the best we've found. If you use any great digital apps for business let us know in the comments below!
This article originally appeared in the Sage Blog.