Use technology to help get more done each day
If managing your business feels more challenging than ever, you’re not alone: 65% of companies in a recent survey by Constant Contact® said their top concern is having enough time to do everything to run their businesses. The good news is that technology offers plenty of ways to help you get more out of each day.
Consider these options to help improve your team’s productivity:
1. Speed up your Internet access
Be sure your office Internet access is not a bottleneck. High-speed Internet access can save your team time on key tasks such as accessing cloud-based applications, conducting online research, sharing files and communicating with colleagues and customers. If you still use dial-up or ISDN service, consider upgrading to cable or fiber-optics broadband.
2. Equip your team with the latest technology
Keep your sales reps productive on the road by providing them with tablets and smartphones. If you’ve already done this, you may want to go a step further and enable them to connect to your network so they can verify pricing, place orders and check on an order or repair status while in a meeting with a client or prospect. Be sure it’s through a secure connection, such as a virtual private network. If you don’t have this, your IT person or technology consultant can help set it up for you.
3. Share and store documents in the cloud
Cloud-based document-sharing tools like Microsoft’s Office365 or Google Apps for Business can help you improve collaboration. This lets employees edit documents, spreadsheets and presentations together in real time. You can also use document storage sites like Box and DropBox. In addition to providing backup copies of key documents, these tools let your team share large files such as presentations, videos and engineering or architectural drawings. Be sure your cloud providers use cutting-edge encryption and other security features.
4. Tap online-based tools
Use online marketing tools like Vertical Response or Constant Contact to communicate with customers. Some of these tools let you integrate and schedule your email, social media and event marketing, which can boost your productivity and your sales effectiveness. If you’re still using spreadsheets to manage your sales leads — or if you don’t have a system at all — try a sales automation system like Salesforce.com orAct-On. They let you keep detailed contact information and history and track your sales goals. Use a marketing automation system like HubSpot or Eloqua to better understand your marketing efforts.
5. Provide work apps
Research apps that are designed specifically for your industry, which can provide potentially large productivity boosts. For example, GPS-enabled apps help you track your fleet of delivery or service vehicles so you can schedule and route them more effectively. Data entry apps can save time in fields such as healthcare, property management and food services. Instead of faxing or hand delivering them to an office, employees can fill out and submit forms on their smartphones or tablets.
6. Hold meetings on the go
Use online conferencing tools like WebEx or Google+ Hangouts to keep scattered teams in sync. In addition to sharing presentations, employees can work together more effectively internally or with your suppliers, customers or prospects.
7. Train your team
Whatever you do, you need to provide training on the technology you implement so your employees get value from it. Implement policies so everyone on the team understands the appropriate use of your company technology.