Many businesses that start off successfully face a good news/bad news scenario.
The good news is obviously that they are successful; the bad news is that there is a lot more work to do, and much of it is unrelated to core functions.
These businesses need a way to deal with the onslaught of administrative work.
Fortunately, the tech industry has responded.
There are many tools available today that allow businesses to become more efficient, so they can focus on what they need to do to grow their business instead of the underlying busy work.
Mobile Workforce Management
The day of the traditional office where everyone commutes to the office, parks in their cubicle and works from nine to five is gradually disappearing.
Offices today have more mobile workforces and are more open to letting some workers telecommute.
They have BYOD polices that make it possible for employees to use personal mobile devices instead of the desktop workstations.
A combination of better technology, so-called green initiatives, and the cost savings that come from not needing as many workstations and furniture are also factors that have contributed to this trend.
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Asure Software is an example of a company that has developed a suite of tools to address the issues of mobile workforces.
It has an application that manages time and attendance for mobile employees. A clock-punching tool takes a picture of the employee clocking in.
This eliminates the problem of buddy punching, which is easy to pull off with a time card system.
The suite is also big on workspace management. One of the best examples that describes what this is comes from a testimonial given by Voluntary Services Organization (VSO), a UK-based organization dedicated to fighting poverty in developing countries around the world.
VSO started facing workspace management challenges when a lease on some office space was about to expire.
In a cost-cutting move, the organization decided to move into smaller space.
Charitable organizations by nature tend to feel they have an obligation to spend as much of the money they receive directly on their mission and less on overhead; this move was typical of that mindset.
While it would save money on renting less square footage, VSO faced some logistical challenges in that the number of employees greatly outnumbered the desks, making it difficult to ensure every employee had a desk when they needed one.
Obviously, this problem could be resolved with multiple work shifts, but the sheer number of employees and desks combined with the different schedules needed to be managed through an automated system to keep track of it all.
An additional requirement of any new solution was that it had to be easy enough to use that little to no training would be required.
VSO decided to go with Asure’s Workspace Manager and it did not take long to be effective. It allowed VSO to staff 320 employees in 180 desks while saving the organization £400,000 annually in office-space-related costs.
As workforces become more mobile, good communication becomes more critical. It’s not always going to be possible to walk over to a co-worker’s cubicle to get clarification or share ideas.
This has led to an increase in the use of collaboration software. IDC predicts that the market for such software will grow to $6.2 billion by 2019 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.4 percent between 2014 and 2019.
Collaborative tools can come in many forms. A growing number of businesses are using office tools like word processing, spreadsheets and presentation software in the cloud.
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Teams often need to share files and keep them in sync to avoid having unofficial versions of important documents being distributed.
Another useful tool is Evernote, a popular note taking app. Although we all like to think that we are high tech, in many ways we aren’t.
Many people have never really reached a comfort level with tablets, smartphones, or laptops as wholesale replacements for taking notes on paper.
The other problem is that even if low tech methods of recording information are acceptable to a company, they still pose problems. Paper notes can get wet, lost or damaged.
Whiteboards can get erased before the information on them is taken down.
What Evernote allows you to do is enjoy the best of both low and high tech tools and organize them for each project. If your mind works better when you use a pen and paper, no problem.
You can take pictures of the paper notes when you are done and now you have a copy of your paper notes saved to the cloud.
On the other hand, if you need to take notes in text format, Evernote will allow that, too. The beauty of the app is that it lets you and a team take notes the way you want to, instead of imposing its ways on you.
Other Tools that Help Productivity
If a startup company has grown from having only a couple of employees to several or more, but is not yet in that range where having a dedicated person or service handle payroll is doable, this work can soon become a nightmare.
Businesses have compliance issues and tax laws that have to be followed, but have nothing to do with core business functions.
Wagepoint is a payroll app that simplifies many of the hair-pulling tasks that come with doing payroll. It can calculate things like withholding and perform deposits, and can be run from a mobile device.
Emails are a source of frustration for many businesses as considerable effort is often spent responding to them.
While losing the email informing everyone that, Steve brought donuts today is nothing to lose sleep over, emails to customers and prospects are of utmost importance and tracking them manually can eat up a lot of time.
With a tool like Boomerang for Gmail, businesses can keep track of emails they send out to customers. It lets them know if there has been a response, and mass email campaigns are easy to schedule.
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As businesses grow they unfortunately have to spend time on tasks that may be necessary, but have nothing to do with what made them successful.
With the right productivity tools, businesses can avoid getting bogged down with this work and take their success to the next level.