Five Business Processes You Should Bring On-line
Business processes are dull. Ugh, filing sucks, am I right? And don’t get me started on faxing, or entering receipts into that bookkeeping program. Paper is so cumbersome!
Just one question: Why are you — why is anyone — still doing this manually?
Now more than ever, there’s an “app for that” – one that will handle all of your administrative and workaday tasks in a smooth, streamlined manner that avoids paper altogether.
In fact, most apps will avoid storage on your device altogether, operating mostly on the cloud for instant access wherever you are.
If your first question is, “What is the cloud?” you’re not alone. As this hilarious video shows, knowledge about the cloud among business owners and even online marketers is still somewhat lacking.
That’s something that’s got to change, as working in the cloud is the best way to simplify and speed your operations, so you can spend more time on creative marketing techniques and less time sorting through that “to file” tray.
Here are just a few cloud-based apps that are sure to break that nasty paper and device-based habit.
If you’re like most people, you enjoy the act of receiving money from clients more than the rigmarole that is invoicing. If only there were a way you could sneak invoicing into those extra-boring parts of your life, like on that long commute.
Enter Xero, cloud invoicing software that’s available wherever you are, on any device you’d like to use. When you login, you’ll see an easy to navigate dashboard, which compiles data from all of your relevant bank accounts, as well as any bills and outstanding services you have yet to charge for.
Once you’ve imported contacts, it will be easy to send that invoice right off. And because the software syncs well with programs like PayPal, you can track payments just as well. Imagine everything you would expect in a desktop accounting program, but with instant, more intuitive connections to all of your other online accounts.
2. Phone Calls
Still using a cell phone for client calls? Much better to go with video calls from services like Skype, FaceTime, or Google Hangouts, which enable much more personable discussions. And, if you’d like to go back to the traditional audio-only call, both Skype and Google Voice can call landlines at an extremely cheap rate.
One of the biggest benefits here is that you can get hands-free calling that completely centers around your computer, making for easy conversations and note taking right on your system.
3. Note Taking
If you’re anything like me, you’re always having “brilliant ideas”…and scribbling them down on bits of paper that get lost in a purse or buried somewhere on your desk.
Now take this habit, multiply it by the number of people in your organization, and just think about how many big ideas get lost in the fray. With Evernote, you’ll never forget a thing. Take a photo, write a note, or record a voice memo right in the program, and you’ll have a means of instant organization.
You can even create a whole library for your business to share expert knowledge and ideas across a subject. Overall, Evernote is a great way to combine the free-wheeling creativity of brainstorming with the need for organization and clear access to those ideas.
All without paper.
4. Data Storage
Thumb drives get lost and stolen. Hard drives get spilled on. No matter how you slice it, storing or backing up your data on nearby, physical hardware is a recipe for disaster. And, even if you do backup, you actually have to remember to do so — something, quite frankly, most of us do not.
Consider replacing your nearby physical backup hardware with cloud-based storage. With services like Google Drive and Dropbox, just install a folder on your computer and anything you place inside it will be immediately synced into the service’s servers, meaning you can access your work from wherever you are and won’t have to remember to backup.
Sharing is also easy to do by adding user access or sending sharing links.
5. Receipt Filing
First, you’ve got to remember to keep all of those business-related receipts. Then, you’ve either got to collect them and give them to the accountant, or enter them into the accounting system yourself. Sure, it’s easy manual labor, but it’s boring easy manual labor – just the kind it’s simple to justify not doing.
Unless, of course, you’ve got Shoeboxed, one of the world’s great paper compilers.
Just take a picture of a receipt and send it to the company’s email address or add it right into the system, and it will get it filed for you in whatever format you’d prefer. The app can also produce expense reports and works well with accounting, bookkeeping, and tax preparation software.
Of course, because it’s a cloud app, it works on any of your devices, so there’s no excuse not to have everything ready for your accountant come tax season.
Whether it’s a pile of paper or clunky old technology, there’s no need for disparate systems and data run amuck.
With cloud, productivity and communication software, streamline your efforts and up that efficiency. All in all, it’s time to bring that work online!
What About You?
What business processes have you automated? What tips can you share with our readers?
About the Author
Adria Saracino is the head of outreach at Distilled. When not consulting on PR and content strategy, you can find her writing about style on her personal fashion blog, The Emerald Closet. You can follow her on Twitter @adriasaracino.