Running your own business is incredibly challenging, but these days you have many options for digital solutions to make your job significantly easier. Software tools can’t write a business plan for you, nor ensure that you have proper funding. But they can help you speed up tedious tasks, collect and analyze data to form actionable insights, and increase productivity among your employees.
Without reliable business software, you’ll find it difficult to master any area of your business, and a lack of integration will make it difficult for your departments to work together. Here are just a few examples of some of the most useful software solutions out there.
Customer Relationship Management
Your customers are your greatest resource, and it’s crucial that you maintain a database of relevant information so you can retain your existing customers, increase efficiency in pursuing new leads, and even improve your customer service. Hubspot CRM lets you do all of this, and best of all, many of its features are free.
A simple dashboard gives you a constantly updated view of your sales team activity, making it easy for supervisors to track progress toward company goals, and guide agents toward greater success. CRM software also makes it easier than ever to pursue leads. Your contact database is automatically updated with information regarding each contact’s business, and meeting scheduling, prospect tracking, and live chat options are all free features. This information can also help your customer support team, by providing them with information on existing customers who may reach out to your contact center with concerns.
Your business needs a reliable search engine to help you find and analyze large amounts of data, which then enables you to gain insights into business decisions and improve the customer experience on your company website. Elastic software offers a free, open-source search and analytics engine, built on the Apache Lucene project. Elasticsearch is the main component of the Elastic Stack, (also called the ELK Stack, which is the collective term of Elasticsearch, Logstash, and Kibana).
The Elastic Stack works by using LogStash to simultaneously collect data from multiple sources, through a process known as data ingestion. The Elastic Stack then stores that data as JSON documents in Elasticsearch clusters (collections of individual nodes on a server). As a powerful full-text search engine, Elasticsearch is then able to search and analyze all of this data in near real-time, no matter the complexity of the query. The final key feature of the Elastic Stack, Kibana, lets you create visualizations of the data including line graphs, pie charts, histograms, and more.
Deployment is simple if you use the Elastic Cloud, available from several cloud providers, to automatically install all components of the Elastic Stack. Using the Elastic Cloud takes less time than installing components individually, and it ensures you’re always updated against security threats.
A potential downside of technology is that the more you use, the more systems you have to keep track of. With Asset Tracking Software however, you can easily and efficiently keep track of all your equipment, and who’s using it. You can use a mobile app to identify assets by scanning their barcodes with your mobile device’s camera, and then add them to your system, thus eliminating unnecessary paper usage. Once they’re loaded in, you can track any asset’s real-time location whenever you need to. This observability is combined with increased accountability, as requiring users to digitally sign when checking out equipment reduces incidents of theft or loss.
An asset management system is also a great modern maintenance solution. You can easily check the maintenance history of all your items as well as flag them for repairs by including a brief description of the problem and photo of the item. With automatic notifications, repairs can be completed faster, and you’ll receive audits detailing inspections and fixes.