In order to maximize efficiency, small business and start-up owners often turn to software before hiring a person or agency to do the work. Almost every facet of a business’s existence is connected to digital information of some kind, and all of your business information is, or will at some point, be managed by an application.

Companies that choose to cling to outdated software put themselves into a tough position. They’re forcing themselves into a place of inefficiency that actually could be costing them in IT expenses and market share loss due to staying behind the competition.

If this accurately describes your company, a big part of this reluctance to purchase new software usually stems from a misunderstanding of how certain applications can benefit your business. Let’s examine five of these applications:

  1. Customer Relationship Management (CRM):  Sales drives your company into new avenues of growth and business development. At the core of every sales process is the need to manage the complex nature of current and future customer relationships. This is exactly what CRM software does. It takes all the data associated with the business-to-consumer (B2C) sales process (lead management, prospecting, contacts, sales databases, etc.) and places them all under one roof. Several on-premises and cloud-based options are available in this category for whatever requirements your organization may have.
  2. Accounting: At this point in the game, it’s unlikely that you’re still managing accounting processes on paper. But is your accounting software up to date? Are you aware of all the tools available? Not only are powerful software tools such as QuickBooks and Quicken available, but plenty of mobile applications can be used to streamline accounting processes.
  3. Email & instant messaging (IM): When you need to immediately communicate an important message to a colleague, sometimes an in-network phone call won’t cut it. The person may be on hold, in a meeting or out running errands. Interpersonal communications help make your company more efficient. Through email (Microsoft Outlook and Apple Mail) and instant messaging tools (AIM and iChat), you can keep the flow of communication running seamlessly.
  4. Human Resource Information System (HRIS): In general, HRIS applications are proprietary in nature and are responsible for managing all human resources–related data. This includes everything from employee data to policy documents.
  5. Project management & collaboration: Over the years, project management and collaboration have become increasingly complex. This is largely because business data and dynamics have evolved significantly. Workers are more mobile than they’ve ever been and real-time collaboration is a necessity in today’s business climate. Although any number of collaboration tools is available to choose from, companies are turning to Microsoft’s SharePoint services to meet their in-depth collaboration needs.

New Software Should Make Life Easier

Although new software isn’t going to magically transform your company into an efficiency powerhouse that maximizes all your digital resources in the best way possible, it will streamline your business processes. And anything that makes your life easier as a company is just good for business.