I’ve been interested in software and computing since the late 1980’s. My first computer was a Commodore 64 with cassette drive and I remember spending a week of evenings after work, just programming a ball to bounce across the screen – great stuff! Then came the first PC’s with DOS (I think around 1990?) and business software proper was born. Soon we were all using a PC to word process and run spreadsheets and we’ve never looked back. In this blog I want to review some of the best ideas in small business software, with the hope that someone might find it useful for their own business.
No matter what type of business you’re involved in, you’re going to need to keep track of all the financial elements. This is an important aspect to any business, and done right, it can ensure the longevity of a company for years. Without tracking revenue, a business is doomed to fail. With that in mind, even if you have an accountant on the pay roll, you’ll need to look into business accounting software. This can help streamline financial decisions, and ensure that money is moving into the right areas, without second guesses. The following can help with picking the right accounting software to help streamline business financial elements.
Take Into Consideration What Your Accounting Levels Are
Where are you at with accounting? Do you have an accountant? Do you balance your own books? If you ask these questions, then you can start to narrow down the software packages that can help your business. If you have a small business, then you don’t need a large-scale protocol. However, if you’re growing at a rapid rate, and you’re dealing with more than $50,000 in revenue, perhaps you should invest in a more expansive solution. Look for options that can be upgraded, just in case your business grows larger over time. Otherwise, stick to a small business tool to start.
Cloud or Desktop Solutions
There are two major protocols in computing. Those that are in-house, on desktop software, or that which is in the cloud. Cloud solutions are easier to manage, update in real time, and store backups online, rather than hosting all information on the computer system itself. Cloud accounting can work with current solutions like QuickBooks, with multiple updates, and third-party support, which is why many go this route. You may not want your data files in your office, which is why cloud support is something to consider.
Budget Is Still Important
Some individuals will want the “best” software available. But that may cost a great deal. You need to take into consideration what budget you may have to work with accounting software, versus hiring an accountant or doing your own books. This is important because sometimes the “best” may be out of your reach financially. But that doesn’t mean that there are subsequently, inexpensive solutions that you can start with, and then upgrade down the line. Budget properly, and you’ll find the “right” choice for your needs.
Evaluate Your Needs
Add-ons and extras are nice, but think about whether or not you need them. You’ll need to go back to the first tip above, and really consider what your involvement level is. Not only that, what your business’s overall needs are. Without a full assessment, add-ons may not be worth your money, especially if you just need something simple.
Ask For Professional Assistance
When in doubt, ask a certified accountant if they recommend software to assist you with everyday business financials. They may be able to help you when tax time comes, but if they have a software recommendation, take them on their word, and focus on getting that solution. They may give you a solution that they are familiar with, and then come in to help you with the bigger issues like tax returns, and more. That’s always a solid plan.
One of the advancements in technology that business needs to acquire sooner than later is that of cloud computing. This is a feature in tech that helps with processing information faster, and easier. Building infrastructure for networking, information, and more is going to help not only streamline business, but also help with web building, processing payments, and even in-house communication.
Cloud computing allows some of the hardware and tech to an off-site location so that the resources are not going to soak up valuable resources at any location. It also allows internet access points to have updated information across several networks and folders, so that anyone that logs into the business network can get their work done, and then turn it in within a matter of minutes, or in real time.
There are several advantages to getting cloud solutions for business, which include reduction of costs associated to hardware, upgrades, software, technical support, access, expansion, and much more. It’s simply, a good option for those that want to cut their IT bills in half, or even more. Before you decide on any solution, make sure that you take note on the following types of cloud computing. Understanding the options can help you make the right choice for your business.
Public Cloud Solutions
Public cloud solutions are fast paced options that allow management of servers, and applications off-site, but work with public information protocol. For instance, you can use a wide array of public solutions such as Google’s document processors, spread sheets, and mail protocol. This can be done through any device with an internet browser, and can be an easy transparent option for companies.
Private Cloud Computing
Private solutions allow companies to utilize their own network of applications, not necessarily those that are public. Unlike Google’s applications, you’ll find that this option requires software to be purchased and used within a networked group. For instance, a company that is using Excel Spreadsheets will need to have a networked copy of the software, with several licenses for the company to use within the network. This is a pool of computing, so that everyone is on the same page, but with a stricter application meant for privacy, instead of shared application and saves. However, there is a resource pool that everyone uses, making this a good option for larger companies that want to use shared computer elements.
There is a hybrid solution that combines both public and private computing protocol. This can help with creating substantial cloud resources for individuals working on projects in a collaborative basis, yet still need some privacy to work on other projects. There is a private and public element to this, and separating departments can be made simple with this solution.
Choosing The Right Solution
At the end of the day, it’s imperative to discuss cloud computing with third parties. The services needed for any given company is different from competitors in the same industry. Cloud computing offers a lower cost for IT services, and computing systems, but it doesn’t come without some setup. The right service for your business may be different than your competitors, which is why individualized support is the key to getting the “right” services, and requires an extended conversation with a provider.
Document management is one of the hardest things to get done properly. You may not think so, but consider how many digital files are needed for a business to run efficiently. On any given day, there may be 10 to 20 memos, letters, emails, programming files, and much more going through any given network. If you have more than a few employees, multiply that by the number of people in the company, and you may have thousands of files to organize, and figure out. If that seems daunting, you’re not alone. A lot of businesses become scatterbrained when it comes to organizing files and figuring out where documents have gone, and where the last updates are. This can either make or break your business, unless you utilize document management software. There are several reasons why this is a good option, including 3 distinct ways it may help your business.
Indexing All Data
The first major thing that you’re going to find to be true about document management software is that you can index things faster. You can add metadata, indexing file credentials, and far more. That means that when you run a search, looking for specific files, the data will read the titles, folders, information within the document, and will give you a better structured search than if you didn’t have this organizational platform. It makes it far easier to find even the most obscure of letters or documents in your computer.
Search Functions Across Platforms
Wouldn’t it be great to search in one area and discover everything that is relevant to your search query? Wouldn’t it be nice to harness the power of Google’s relevancy searches within your network? Well, with a good document management software in play, you can do just that. That means that you can look into a variety of folders and only get the highest relevant results, even if you’ve misplaced a file or didn’t update it correctly. Software maps out human errors so that they don’t become detrimental to your business’s daily flow.
Perhaps the best thing about document management software is that you can categorize all of your files. That means that you can go beyond just folders, you can systematically assure that every department in your company has areas for their files, and can be searched from any place on the network. That means that if you have a new employee, or a veteran in your company, they will have the same playing field in terms of searching for files and important information. No need to try to rack your brain to figure out where you placed files, spreadsheets and more, because everything can be categorized for departments, individuals, and relevant information automatically.
At the end of the day, organization can make or break your business. Why not let automation take over, so that you don’t have to worry about cleaning up clutter, and trying to configure all of the files that are in your computer. Search easier, manage information faster, and have peace of mind all within the confines of one software upgrade.
One of the standards of nearly every business today is the use of project management software. In the past, many companies used this to help with keeping projects on track. With the costs of this type of software lowering in price, and increasing in applications and use, businesses of all sizes are using this solution. When you go to purchase one of these software solutions, you’re going to be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of options that you can purchase. It’s with that in mind that you may want to look at a few key elements that the software you purchase should have.
Multiple Planning Channels
There should be several planning channels within the software. You should be able to deliver project analysis, and milestones across several different branches of your business. You need to be able to define several milestones, distribute different plans of action, and integrate several processes overall. Agile planning, and core management systems should be on par with the latest protocol in business structures.
Real Time Monitoring System
The second thing that your project management software has to excel in is in regard to how you monitor milestones, and deadlines. Managing how projects work is critical, but you should be able to change elements on the fly, create notes, and have in-software conversations with your project specialists on the fly. Communication should not be difficult to manage, as you should be able to oversee every stage of projects being worked on, as well as change elements, add to them, and continue to work towards a common goal, especially if there are several people working on the same project. Whether you have a team of 3 or 4 or a large scale team, real time monitoring helps progress projects with ease.
Easy of Collaboration
Perhaps the biggest element of project management software today is that of communication. The purpose of this software is to create a unified front for business people that are working on projects together. The larger the project, the more hands may be working on it, which leaves room for errors, etc. By allowing easier communication across different projects, you’ll be able to lead a team, help individuals, and even take on milestones that you can help progress any project being worked on. Without communication during any size project, there are things that can fall through the cracks, which defeats the purpose of the management software to begin with.
At the end of the day, you need to balance several wants and needs when it comes to getting the right software for your projects. Take time to see what the software that you want to purchase does, and whether or not it has upgrades, and compatibility with your network. You should also make sure that you are able to learn how to work the system, and integrate several different individuals within the system. Finding software is not difficult, but managing projects with new programs can cause a bit of a delay in progression if the tools are not easy to master.
Here’s a short but informative video for anyone considering learning to use Microsoft Project
There is a great deal of complexity that comes with trying to keep a member base organized. Companies that have membership elements as part of their business model will no doubt have to utilize a long list of options to keep everything in place. Whether you use online spreadsheets, or the current desktop software, you’ll find that it’s easy to misplace information, upgrade different member benefits, and much more. It’s not only a time-consuming process, it’s easy to succumb to human error. Finding a way to stay organized, and maintain membership information, without having to hire more people to manage spreadsheets can be a great thing, and that’s where membership software starts to become advantageous.
Know More About Your Membership Profile
There are several questions that you will need to answer about your business if you’re going to grow your platform. For instance, do you know when subscriptions are coming through the most? Do you know about events that are organized to help networking? Furthermore, do you have relational data about those that are signing up for memberships within your site, or business? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, or get the answers within a split second, then you’re behind the ball. To ensure that you’re not lost in a sea of information, membership software can assist. It can help by isolating organizational data, and ensure that you have answers to the most important questions that pertain to your business model.
Interact With Your Members Faster
Another reason why membership software is advantageous is in regard to communication. Staying in touch with your members, without having to send mass emails, and work through contact forms in a one-by-one basis can free up time for you to work on other things. For this reason, you may want software to help you with sending out interactions, and keep everything from falling into a bulk bin in your email system. By doing this, you’ll convey to your members that they are important, and that you’re not just leaving them alone amidst a large membership website.
Organization Above All Else
Perhaps the biggest advantage of having software to help with membership data and sites relates to organization. When you have everything at a fingertip, whether it’s information or it’s communication platforms, you’ll be able to interact with more of your customer base, and even build your membership protocol faster. Disorganization on the backend of member’s only pages is one reason why many people leave certain sites. You don’t want to have a high sign up ratio, then have a majority of people cancel before they see your updates, or re-up on their subscription fees. You want to make sure that everything is streamlined, easy to access, and well organized from the first entry to when a member decides to leave. Everything should be simple, and that’s where a good bit of software comes into play. Without organization, you’ll find that it’s difficult to manage, onboard new people, and stay connected with your member base. That’s a big deal in regard to membership sites, that’s for sure.
MS Word 2016 is a word processing application that allows you to create a variety of documents, including letters, resumes and more. In this article, we have tried to cover the most important features, such as the Ribbon, Quick Access Toolbar and Backstage view. Word 2016 is similar to Word 2013 and Word 2010. Word 2016 should be familiar if you have used Word 2013 and Word 2010.
Word Interface: When you open Word for the first time, the “Start Screen” will appear. You will be able to create a new document, choose a Template, and access your recently edited documents. Locate and select the “Blank Document” from the “Start screen” to access the word interface. Click the buttons in the interactive to learn more about the Word interface. Like the recent versions, Word 2016 continues to use features like the “Ribbon” and the “Quick Access Toolbar”—where you will find commands to perform common tasks in Word—as well as “Backstage view”. Word uses a “tabbed Ribbon system” instead of traditional menus. The “Ribbon” contains multiple tabs, which could be found at the top of the word window. Each and every Tab contains several “groups of related commands”. Example, the Font group on the Home tab contains commands for formatting text in your document. Some groups also have a “small arrow” in the bottom-right corner that you can click for even more options.
Showing and hiding the Ribbon: You can hide the Ribbon, if you think that it takes too much of screen space. To do this, click the “Ribbon Display Options” arrow in the upper-right corner of the Ribbon, then select the desired option from the drop-down menu:
- Auto-hide Ribbon: Auto-hide displays your document in full-screen mode and completely hides the Ribbon from view. To show the Ribbon, simply click a tab.
- Show Tabs: This option hides all command groups when they are not in use, but tab will remain visible. To show the Ribbon, simply click a Tab.
- Show Tabs and Commands: This option maximizes the Ribbon. All of the tabs and commands will be visible. This option is selected by default when you open Word for the first time.
Tell me feature: If you are having trouble finding command you want, the “Tell Me” feature can help. It works just like a regular search bar: Type what you’re looking for, and a list of options will appear. You can use the command directly from the menu without having to find it from the Ribbon.
Quick Access Toolbar: The Quick Access Toolbar lets you access common commands no matter which tab are selected. By Default, it shows the Save, Undo and Redo commands, but you can add other commands depending on your needs. To add commands to the Quick Access Toolbar:
- Click the “drop-down arrow” to the right of the “Quick Access Toolbar”. Select the command you want to add from the menu.
- The command will be added to the “Quick Access Toolbar”.
The Ruler is located at the top and to the left of your document. It makes it easier to adjust your document with precision. If you want, you can hide the “Ruler” to create more screen space. To show or hide the “Ruler”:
- Click the “View” tab. Click the checkbox next to “Ruler” to show or hide the Ruler.
Backstage view gives you various options for saving, opening a file, printing and sharing your document. To access backstage view:
- Click the “File” tab on the “Ribbon”.
Watch the video below from PCMag for a run down of the new features in Microsoft Office Word 2016: