Small and medium business owners have a lot on their plate, often with limited resources and technology support, so they should be prepared to evaluate software options on their own.
These business-focused software products and tools can increase productivity and minimize management burden. SMB owners and employees may need to complete tasks on the go, so it’s good that there’s usually a mobile version of these productivity applications.
What types of mobile applications can help SMBs?
These apps are growing in number and scope, so SMB owners and staff need to stay on top of the latest applications that can improve their workflows and processes. These business applications and software fall into the following five main categories:
The mobile component makes these applications very powerful, especially for a small workforce that may need to communicate information quickly. SMB owners and employees need to find the applications that can bring value to their team and learn how they compare in the marketplace.
These markets include different software options and licensing models, but SMEs should focus on those options that suit the size of their organization. Furthermore, SMBs should consider options with robust mobile applications to meet the demands of working from anywhere.
Accounting and Finance
All organizations deal with resources and expenses, even charities and nonprofits, so they need accounting software to meet those needs. There are plenty of products on the market, but FreshBooks, QuickBooks Online, and Wave are great for SMBs (Figure 1).
Several popular mobile apps focus on point-of-sale opportunities. These apps can stand alone and integrate with a larger financial software package. These include Venmo, Square, PayPal, Google Pay, and Apple Pay.
Project management and organization
Many products fit into the project management category and involve complex tasks that SMBs may need to perform. These tasks include project scheduling, scheduling, team management, daily plans, note organizers, and more (Figure 2).
Asana and Trello are heavier management tools compared to Evernote, which is more of a documentation tool that includes some project management components. Asana and Trello have fundamentally different practices. Each product has free trial versions so organizations can review them before committing to a purchase. In addition, Evernote’s pricing shows price per month rather than dollars per user per month, so organizations should contact the vendor to verify pricing. All prices shown are discounted based on annual payment.
After organizations have seen it as useful but not necessarily essential for years, collaboration software is taking on a new lease of life with the boom in remote working that started largely with the COVID-19 pandemic. While many organizations are going back to the office, it’s still valuable to let employees connect remotely. This software can help remote workers, employees of multiple office locations, traveling workers and many more applications.
The three core options SMBs should consider for collaboration are Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom. These platforms include video conferencing, group meetings, private messaging, and a mobile application.
The prices for these offers are as follows for SMBs:
- Three plans ranging from free to $12.50 per user, per month
- Features vary widely from plan to plan, including 24/7 support and single sign-on
- Four plans: Free, Essentials, Microsoft 365 Business Basic, and Microsoft 365 Business Standard. Prices range from free to $12.50 per user, per month
- Enhanced features with each more expensive licensing model, including more hours of group meetings per month and recorded meetings
- Four plans ranging from free to $25 per user, per month
- Escalating features of each plan, including a higher maximum number of meeting participants and more cloud storage
The features listed above may not be available in all product versions. In addition, many project management tools have basic collaboration features. A separate license can be redundant with enough collaboration features in another software bundle.
Two major productivity application services are Microsoft 365 productivity applications and Google Workspace.
Offline apps require offline storage and most vendors offer a small amount for free as part of a suite and more capacity for a fee. In addition, offline storage is useful for desktop apps to back up to (Figure 3).
For reference, not all applications are equally feature rich. Google Tables, for example, is way behind the functionality of Microsoft Access. On the other hand, the Business Basic plan for Microsoft does not include the desktop versions of the Office applications – only mobile and web apps.
In addition, these tariff plans are extremely complex in terms of feature variance and available bundles.
Free versions. Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace have free versions, which may be enough for very small businesses with only a few employees.
- Microsoft 365. To access free Microsoft 365 apps, visit Office.com and create a Microsoft account or sign in to an existing one. The free versions of these apps are all online and mobile, and while it includes OneDrive storage, some apps like OneNote are missing and others, like Excel, have limited functionality.
- Google Workspace. Users need to sign up or login to a Gmail account and click on the matrix of dots google apps by the login photo at the top. The Workspace apps will then appear.
Customer Relationship Management Software
CRM systems are typically sold to large-scale enterprises, but there are some options for SMBs. These products can be very useful for SMBs to support customers with limited resources.
SMB owners and employees can coordinate information for the sales force, including customer profiles, contact information, call tracking, and deal tracking. Salesforce, Zoho One, and Zendesk are popular enterprise CRM options that scale to meet the needs of SMBs. However, a smaller scale CRM system might be better suited to SMEs (Figure 4).
These CRM systems can also eliminate the need to purchase separate applications and services, such as finance, collaboration, and project management.