Productivity means achieving more with your existing resources. It includes maximising the strengths of the people who work in your business by creating an environment where they can perform at their best, continuously improve their working habits, and collaborate effectively as a team.
There are now many useful software tools available to help your team in this regard, tools that can improve performance across a wide variety of business functions. Tools that can help people work in smarter, not harder, ways.
"Better productivity means less labour, not more."
2. Effaith cyfrifiadura cwmwl
have to insert them within your business. This means that the services you need can be increased or decreased in line with demand, and that you only pay for those services you use.
Online technology has a number of important advantages for SMEs. You can get affordable access to the latest technology and, dissimilar to traditional IT systems, you can install applications very quickly. Your staff can use these tools anywhere there is an internet connection and on more than one device – computer, work tablet and smartphone. You can update your applications regularly so that they are always top class. Also, the cloud system providers have worthwhile security measures that are continuously updated to protect against the latest cyber threats, giving you peace of mind about your data.
3. Sut gall offer cynhyrchiant ar-lein helpu eich busnes?
Project planning and management: There are many tools available to help you manage complex projects. Trello are collaboration tools that offer a visual overview of the work in progress, who within the team is working on it, and what the status of each part of the project is. It can be accessed through the website or app. It helps you assign tasks and then track them until they are complete. Basecamp is a system for project management, which uses six key methods:
Lists of things to do to track work
Message board for updates
Documents and files for organizing all the information the team needs
Timeline section for key deadlines
Automatic meetings to get regular updates from team members.
Asana is another task management tool with a dashboard that is easy to navigate. You can create tasks and assign them to specific members of your team and monitor the progress of those tasks. To adhere to deadlines, the software will send reminder emails whenever a specific task is to be completed.
Time tracking and management: Tools like these can help you track how your team spends its time, help you improve the allocation of your team's time, and simplify the process of calculating and invoicing any hours that need to be billed to your clients. Toggl offers a quick and easy way to track your time between multiple projects and then report on them. It will also integrate with the main project management programmes. Harvest and Freckle offer similar products.
Financial packages: Products like these can help your business perform key tasks like keeping accounts and invoicing quickly and efficiently. Brightbook, LessAccounting, Xero and Freshbooks are all examples of the many financial and fiscal tools available. They also have features that help you track expenses and you can set up automated processes for routine tasks, such as follow-up contact with clients.
Document management: Wasting time searching for the documents you need is expensive and inefficient. It also makes it difficult for your teams to collaborate effectively on projects. Cloud-based document sharing systems, such as Microsoft Sharepoint, Google Docs and Dropbox overcome these problems. These products make it easy to access, share and collaborate on documents. They also have features that allow you to take notes or comment. They can be useful for archiving old files and deleting old redundant information, so that your system is not crowded with old irrelevant files.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM): CRM systems are valuable for collecting all the information you have about your customers, details about your relationship with them and records of interaction with each other. Using your CRM system can help you identify your strongest sales prospects and translate them more effectively. This will have a significant impact on your actual sales. There are a wide variety of online CRM software tools to choose from, including products such as Zoho, Dynamics and Insightly. Most of the leading products will allow you to automate key parts of your workflow, compile bespoke reports and integrate them with email providers to devise marketing campaigns to attract new business. These systems can also be integrated with your on-the-go sales management function and sales forecasting function.
Manage your Social Media: If your business operates across multiple social media channels, then there are specialized software tools available that can help you manage all of your social media accounts off one dashboard and schedule regular updates of your streams. The most famous example is Hootsuite, but other products include Buffer and GetStacker. For example, you can program a month's worth of social media posts in advance, making it much easier for your team to keep on top of their workload.
Communication equipment: Superfast broadband has led to a plethora of new communications equipment available to small businesses at an affordable cost. Services like Skype and Facetime make it easier to use video calls and video conferencing. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology makes phone-conferencing calls more cost effective. All of these technologies can help your teams be more productive by reducing wasted travel time, improving access to your customers (in the UK and abroad) and helping to support flexible working practices.
Email management: It has been estimated that on average office workers now receive 122 work emails per day. Fortunately, there are tools available that can help ease the burden of dealing with so many emails. For example, SaneBox is a program that lets you focus on your work by automatically moving trivial emails to a separate folder for you to read later. For campaigns that send emails externally, MailChimp provides an easy-to-use system with convenient templates to create your own emails. If you don't have more than 2,000 subscribers, MailChimp will allow you to send up to 12,000 emails each month free of charge, making it a good choice for start-ups.
4. Y buddiannau ar gyfer eich busnes chi
Tools similar to those described above can help you achieve more with your time and lead to more accurate and effective work. They can help you identify and eliminate time-wasting activities that don't bring value to your business.
They can help improve collaboration and teamwork, help your staff deliver on their projects, manage their progress and deadlines, and be absolutely sure who within the team is responsible for each specific task. They make it easier to manage more complex tasks and reduce the risk of making mistakes.
These tools can help your business be more agile, flexible and responsive to your customers' needs, building a more professional image of your business.
"Technology has transformed our relationships with staff and customers."
Read how Apollo Wales used digital tools to sustain and grow their business.
The way you manage key documents becomes much simpler and more efficient. You can automatically assess documents from different locations and automatically update documents simultaneously between different devices. Modern document management systems have the capacity to automatically create versions, sort and save backups. So, as an example, if the latest version of a document fails, you can load the previous version. This is also important for version control where an engineer can, for example, look back through versions of technical designs to identify errors in the manufacturing process. Features like these can save your business from losing critical information and time.
You may be collaborating right now by emailing documents to more than one recipient, but this can be an inefficient and time-wasting approach. It is difficult to track everyone's input and know which version of the document is the latest draft. These productivity tools eliminate all these problems, allowing multiple users to work on an updated 'live' version of the document simultaneously and highlight each person's input.
These tools also help you get the most out of working mobile and flexible. Now, your staff doesn't have to be in the office to be productive. They can work from any location where there is a web connection. Again, this enables them to achieve more with their time and to collaborate more effectively with colleagues and customers.
5. Beth am feddalwedd Ffynhonnell Agored?
Before choosing one of the products that requires you to subscribe, it's worth exploring the free Open Source tools available to you. If you believe these can provide what your business needs, then there are significant savings to be made. Leading examples of Open Source services include Apache Open Office, LibreOffice, NeoOffice and KOffice. LibreOffice has a software array that includes word processor, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics and database management method.
6. Astudiaeth achos
Celtest, a leading UK business providing UKAS-accredited compliance testing services for materials in major construction and engineering projects, has implemented an ongoing programme of digital investment for its data and testing results to be more competitive.
Over the course of a year, it has made significant savings in telecoms costs by having a VoIP phone system, working more efficiently each week by making savings using a direct reporting method from testing sites, and increasing the amount of business enquiries coming through its upgraded website. The company has also significantly improved cyber security and complies with the GDPR Roll.
"The past year has transformed the business, to the extent that it's difficult to remember how we coped before deciding to use the digital systems," Celtest business development manager Iwan Morgan said.
"The change has meant different working patterns for many staff. It took a while to get used to that, but now everyone is fully on board and the true business is benefiting as a result."
Under the old system, Celtest technicians could have located it at a site for three to four days without being able to transfer testing data to the office, and without generating reports to the client. Depending on the project, reporting now takes less than 24 hours, with some completed almost immediately. There have been other cost savings and efficiencies in areas such as invoice drawing – the new automatic system saves around two hours a week – and the company's new VoIP-based phone system has improved call quality and efficiency, as well as benefiting the company financially.
Iwan said: "The investment we've made in digital technology has already paid off and we're only starting to see the benefits from the time we put into redeveloping the website. The support from Accelerate Wales for Business has been a key factor and we would recommend other businesses looking for new digital platforms to sign up to the programme."
7. Sut i ddechrau arni
- Review your business processes. What key areas do you need to be more efficient, boost output, and reduce wasted time?
- Research the market. Learn about the software tools available to address your business issues. Read any independent reviews and be referred by people you trust. Compile a short list of options for your usnes. Check if the equipment matches. Make sure the options you are considering are compatible with your existing systems.
- Schedule a free trial. Many cloud service providers will allow you to get a taste of the service before you enter into a contract. Make sure everyone from your team is involved in the trial so you can be sure the service is thoroughly tested and meets the needs of all your staff.
- Set your service contract. Ask for information that will help you assess the reliability of your provider's service, how comprehensive its security systems are, and what regular updates or improvements are part of your contract.
- Make sure you know what results you want. Set goals in advance for the improvements you want to achieve, then measure your performance against these targets so you can assess the benefits of the new software against its costs.
- Check your Superfast Broadband connection. Make sure the speed and quality of your connection will allow you to get the most out of the new tools, especially cloud services.
"Focus on being productive rather than busy."
Tim Ferriss, author and business consultant
8. Rhagor o wybodaeth
What support is available?
- Use the Acceleration Wales Business Software Directory to search for the software that could help you run your business.
- At the workshop, make an appointment to see a Business Advisor who will help you create a digital action plan to grow your business
- Visit our Knowledge Fund for the latest digital advice and guidance from Accelerate Wales for Business.