Small and medium business owners are busy, often with limited resources and technological support, so they must be willing to evaluate software options themselves.
These business-oriented software products and tools can increase productivity and minimize administrative burdens. Small to medium business owners and employees may need to get tasks done on the go, so it’s good that there’s usually a mobile version of these productivity apps.
What types of mobile applications can help SMBs?
These apps are growing in number and scope, so SMB owners and employees should keep up to date with 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 needs to communicate information quickly. SMB owners and employees should find the applications that can add value to their team and learn how each stacks up in the market.
These markets include various software options and licensing models, but SMBs should focus on those that make sense for the size of their business. Additionally, SMBs should consider options with robust mobile applications to meet the needs of remote working.
accounting and finance
All organizations need to manage resources and expenses—even charities and nonprofits—so they need accounting software to handle those needs. There are many products on the market, but FreshBooks, QuickBooks Online, and Wave are well-suited for SMBs (Figure 1).
Several popular mobile apps focus on point-of-sale functionality. These apps can be standalone and integrated into a larger financial software package. These include Venmo, Square, PayPal, Google Pay, and Apple Pay.
project management and organization
Many products fall under the project management category, covering complex tasks that SMEs may need to perform. These tasks include project planning, scheduling, team management, daily plans, note organizers, and more (Figure 2).
Asana and Trello are more powerful management tools compared to Evernote, which is more of a documentation tool that includes some project management components. Asana and Trello have fundamentally different ways of working. Each product has free evaluation versions so businesses can review them before deciding to buy. Additionally, 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 years of organizations seeing them as helpful but not necessarily essential, collaboration software has been given new life with the boom in remote work that largely began with the COVID-19 pandemic. As many businesses return to the office, it still makes sense to give employees the ability to connect remotely. This software can help remote workers, workers from multiple office locations, traveling workers and many more use cases.
The three core collaboration options SMBs should consider are Slack, Microsoft Teams and Zoom. These platforms offer video conferencing, group meetings, private messaging, and a mobile application, among others.
The prices for these offers are as follows for SMEs:
- 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 every higher-priced license 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 from each plan, including a higher maximum number of meeting participants and more cloud storage
The features listed above may not be present in all product versions. In addition, many project management tools have basic collaboration features. A separate license may be redundant with sufficient collaboration capabilities in another software package.
Two key productivity application services are Microsoft 365 Productivity Apps and Google Workspace.
Offline apps require offline storage and most providers offer a small amount for free as part of a suite and more capacity for a fee. Additionally, offline storage is beneficial for desktop apps to back them up (Figure 3).
For reference, not all applications are equally feature rich. For example, Google Tables lags far behind the capabilities of Microsoft Access. On the other hand, the Business Basic plan for Microsoft doesn’t include the desktop versions of the Office apps – only mobile and web apps.
Additionally, these pricing plans are extremely complex in terms of feature variance and available bundles.
Free versions. Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace have free versions that may be enough for very small businesses with just a few employees.
- Microsoft 365. To access free Microsoft 365 apps, go to Office.com and create a Microsoft account or sign in to an existing account. The free versions of these apps are all online and mobile, and while they include OneDrive storage, some apps like OneNote are missing and others, like Excel, have limited functionality.
- Google Workspace. Users need to sign up or sign up for a Gmail account and click the matrix of labeled dots GoogleApps through the login photo above. The workspace apps are then displayed.
Customer Relationship Management Software
CRM systems are typically marketed to large corporations, but there are some options for SMBs. These products can be very helpful for SMBs to support customers with limited resources.
SMB owners and staff can coordinate information for the sales team, including customer profiles, contact information, call tracking, and deal tracking. Salesforce, Zoho One, and Zendesk are popular CRM options for businesses that can be scaled down to meet the needs of SMBs. However, a smaller CRM system might be better suited for SMBs (Figure 4).
These CRM systems could also eliminate the need to purchase separate applications and services such as finance, collaboration, and project management.