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Seven Great Apps to Boost Productivity

Cloud computing technology is not exclusive to large enterprises. In fact, many types of cloud-based software (AKA web based software)—a subset of cloud computing—are targeted at SMEs just like yours.

The allure between what the tech industry calls Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and SMEs is undeniable:

  • They can be deployed instantly, without additional investment in an IT infrastructure
  • They’re constantly updated, so you’re always using the latest software.
  • They’re highly portable, and can be used on any device (that can run a web browser) running any platform.

These conveniences and cost savings are just a few of the benefits that come with SaaS. And within SaaS itself, is yet another subset—the mobile application—known to you and me simply as mobile apps. These little nuggets of software that live in your mobile device can do almost anything web based software can. However, they have the added convenience of being more portable, and are with you at all times via your phone or tablet.

What does that mean for you, as a small business owner or employee? It means you can literally get work done anytime, anywhere. And the best part about using apps for your business now, is you won’t have to deal with a costly business migration over to these services when they become prevalent in the near future–which they will.

To get you started, here’s a list of some of the most popular enterprise mobile apps available in the market, sorted by category. The apps you see below aren’t confined to mobile, and have corresponding web based portals you can use on your desktop when you’re stuck in the office.

Collaboration - Basecamp (USD$79/month)
If your business deals with more than 5 projects at any given time, you might want to invest in Basecamp, a popular collaboration software. Basecamp helps you organise projects throughout the delivery process from start to finish, and eliminates the need for unnecessary meetings and thousands of emails. In essence, it helps you keep track of projects, from deadlines, to minute tasks within projects. The best thing about Basecamp is that it’s intuitive to use, great for when you’re working with clients who can’t spare the time to pick up new tools.

Knowledge repository - Evernote (USD$57.98/month)
While Evernote doesn’t contribute directly to your bottom line, it’s a great software for improving your employees’ productivity, and enhancing collaboration. At first glance, it’s simply a note taking application. However, it has features that allow you to take note of EVERYTHING digital. That includes text, web snippets, voice, pdfs and more. It also allows sharing, so individuals or teams can share notes with one another with ease, greatly enhancing productivity and collaboration in your company.

Social Media Management - Sprout Social (USD$99/month)
First off, Sprout Social isn’t just a social media management tool. Sure you can post content relatively easily through it, but to its credit, it very much more. It’s more akin to a social media analytics tool, where you can analyse the efficacy of your social media posts. It has a strong suite of features that caters to everyone from the tech-savvy marketer, to the social media marketing newbie. It’s well-designed and easy to use, but the real value comes from its wide array of partners, networks and tools that makes Sprout Social such a powerful marketing tool for improving your social media content marketing strategy.

Team Communications - Slack (USD$6.67/user/month)
Slack’s tagline is “Be Less Busy”, and if you ask us, we’ll tell you that it’s spot on. Slack is like a regular chat app that you use with your friends, but more powerful. It allows you to create channels for ongoing project specific discussions, individual and group chats, all of which is meant to let you be more productive. It not only has plenty of functions baked in, but also allows for plug-ins (like Hangouts for example) that enhances its basic functionality. In essence, it cuts down the need for internal emails (Slack claims it’s up to 48.6%) and all the time it wastes.

Business Travel - Tripit Pro ($49/user/year)
If you fly often in the name of business, you’re going love this app. It automatically trawls your email accounts for travel information (flights, hotels and activities), and collates it neatly into itineraries complete with flight times, booking numbers and more. If it missed any information, you can always forward the booking email to Tripit, and it will add the information into your Tripit itinerary automatically. This lets you keep your travel information within reach, without the need to refer to long email threads

Productivity - Office 365 (US$8.25/user/month)
There are plenty of reasons to love Office 365 Business. It comes with all the online Office apps you need, like Word, Powerpoint, Excel, plus a generous 1TB of cloud storage for you to store all your files. And since it’s a SaaS based application, you can use it on any platform or device with a web browser. For more effective collaboration between employees, Office 365 includes real-time co-authoring in Word, so multiple people can work on a single document at the same time.

Expenses - Intuit Quickbooks (US$12 or $16.10 or $18.60/user/year)
Like its name so subtly suggests, Intuit Quickbooks give you a faster way to deal with your accounting books. It’s a full featured application that contains almost every accounting function you need for your business, like records, forms and and reports. It even has comprehensive payroll support, so there’s no need to pay for separate payroll software. Like most modern apps, it’s also beautifully designed and incredibly easy to use.

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