Your small business can always run more efficiently. But how do mobile applications make your business’s life easier? Technology can make or break your business in today’s age, and you’ll want to avoid being left in the dust by ensuring your mobile applications are assisting you to keep your business afloat.
Depending on the type of industry you’re in, you may have a preference for certain applications over others. But certain apps exist that will cover an area of your business you can’t ignore. Let’s look at some example cases of how a mobile app can help a certain facet of your business.
Scenario: You make a number of business-related expenses on the company credit card. When you get back to the office, you have to manually input the expense information into your accounting software. You also need to scan the receipts into your computer so they can be attached to any invoices, or staple any copies of the receipt to printed-out invoices.
Solution: A mobile app provided by your accounting software can allow you to snap a photo of any receipts and attach it to any transaction. Some may even have OCR technology that can scan any dollar amounts and automatically input in any data.
A mobile app for your accounting software usually acts as an extension of the program itself. While the core program runs on your office computer, the mobile app allows for additional functionality not provided in the core program. Usually, the app will take advantage of the features of the phone to enhance the experience with the software. For example, a mobile app such as QuickBooks offers features that take advantage of the phone’s camera for pictures or scanning items (receipts or QR codes) or being able to generate invoices on the go.
In fact, many companies expect there to be a rise of mobile accounting software that is completely accessible via a mobile browser or application. This would eliminate the need to have any sort of back-office counterpart to sync with. These trends will continue and allow new businesses to succeed in their accounting with whatever device they have (computer, mobile phone, or tablet).
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Scenario: You’re trying to clear some pressing issues about a recent order that needs to get sent out. You need to contact someone in another department but don’t know who exactly… all that you know is you need an answer as quickly as possible.
Solution: A communication tool such as an instant messenger (or IM) will provide the most immediate form of communication to the greatest amount of people. Modern IMs will have mobile app counterparts with push notifications. They also will have ways to group-message individuals or entire departments through specific chat channels, which will allow anyone who is tagged in that channel to see the message and potentially provide a quick response.
Calling individuals on the phone is the tried and true method of getting a quick answer (and truly, if you need an immediate answer from a specific contact, probably remains to be the best method of communication). But in today’s age and everyone’s busy schedule, email becomes more and more relied on for simple questions that are time-sensitive but not imperative. But what if someone doesn’t have immediate access to their email? Well, there are mobile apps for certain email inboxes such as Outlook or Gmail. But what if you don’t know who exactly to ask? Who do you email to get the quickest response?
A program like Slack allows for direct IMs as well as “channels” that can be catered however you see fit. Channels could be broken down by a department or by a business function, such as “Accounting”, “Warehouse”, “Sales”, and “Management”, etc. If you had a warehouse question but didn’t know who specifically to contact, a simple message to that channel allows anyone subscribed to receive the push notification on their device and provide an immediate answer.
Scenario: You’re collaborating on a project with another co-worker and need to be able to send files back and forward to one another. Emailing the files isn’t working out the best, as you both are constantly making edits to the file and need to see what changes your coworkers are making in as quick of a time as possible.
Solution: A cloud-drive application gives your entire team the ability to upload files or have access to files from wherever they may be and see timestamps for the most recent uploads and edits.
Using a cloud software that allows anytime/anywhere access is likely the best and most immediate way to collaborate on work together. But what about in a smaller organization, where work could be a shared spreadsheet, or perhaps some customized purchased orders simply typed up on a .doc file?
Luckily storage drive applications exist such as Google Drive. Not only do they provide a hefty amount of storage space for your files, but its integration with other apps (such as Google Docs and Google Sheets) allows for the usage of cloud-based file-sharing. This is another solution that is available both on a desktop computer as well as a mobile application, allowing you to check contents and send files wherever you may be.
Scenario: Your retail business is running a pop-up location at a local event and selling a variety of goods. You have many customers looking to purchase your product, but a majority do not carry cash and want to pay via credit card.
Solution: A payment processing application is going to be the quickest way to collect funds for your organization. Some apps provide tiny card readers that can be plugged into the headphone jack of your mobile devices and allow for quick and painless transactions to be run up on the spot.
While your brick-and-mortar store has the luxury of a credit-card scanner on the counter, or perhaps a POS hardware with one built right in, you’ll be out of luck if your business becomes “mobile”. Payment processing applications are allowing credit card scanning hardware to be plugged into tablets and mobile devices, allowing you to scan credit cards and process/record the transaction with your phone.
Only the tip of the iceberg has been shown here. Even scrolling through the app store can show you a variety of applications designed to help you run your business a bit smoother. The bottom line is that mobile applications can help you in many more facets of your business that are not listed here, and they’re not going away. In fact, they (along with cloud-based software options) may be paving the way for the future of running your business. Feel free to let us know how a mobile application has saved your business by commenting below.
Russ Davidson is a Digital Marketing Specialist at Software Connect, a company that provides free software and application recommendations based in Milwaukee, WI. Since 1996, we’ve helped thousands of companies find the best solution for their needs by understanding software requirements and pointing them in the right direction.