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Leveraging Technology to Streamline Your Workflow

Mobile phones have become an essential part of doing business today. Over eight out of ten U.S. small business owners use their mobile devices for business at least once a day, and over one in four use them once an hour, a Manta survey found. About three in four companies allow employees to bring their own mobile devices to work, Tech Pro research has found. While most companies are using smartphones for work, not all companies are making maximum use of the capability of mobile technology to improve their operational efficiency. Here are four ways you can use today’s technology to streamline your workflow.

Bookkeeping and Financial Management

Bookkeeping is one of small business owners’ most dreaded tasks. Most small business owners waste over 41 hours a year on accounting and tax-related paperwork, equivalent to a full work week, a SCORE survey found. 40 percent spend over 80 hours a year. Not surprisingly, 40 percent also said bookkeeping was their least favorite part of running their business.

Fortunately, today’s financial management apps let you use your smartphone to automate much of your bookkeeping. You can use a cloud-based accounting app such as QuickBooks Online to manage your business finances and update your books from anywhere. Integrate your accounting app with point-of-sale and e-commerce apps to automatically enter sales into your books and update your inventory. You can also automate tasks such as payroll management and expense reporting. For instance, you can use a smartphone with a high-quality built-in camera such as a Samsung Galaxy S7 to scan in expense reports so you don’t have to enter them manually.

Communications and Meetings

Mobile devices can also help you and your employees streamline your communications and meetings, two of the biggest time wasters for any business. Traditionally, companies have communicated with employees by email, which can be inefficient if you need to include multiple people in a conversation, reference previous comments from before one party joined the conversation or keep document versions in sync. To make communication more efficient, companies have turned to mobile tools such as Slack, which are designed like social media sites rather than email, enabling all parties in a conversation to see the same views and document versions.

Digital tools can also help you make managing meetings easier. You can use digital calendar tools to schedule your meetings and send invitations. You can also hold meetings without leaving your office by using video conference tools. Microsoft’s Skype for Business supports video conference calls and integrates with Microsoft’s Office package so you can also schedule meetings using the same interface.

Project Management

Digital technology can also help streamline project management flow. Some communication tools such as Slack include features that let them double as project management apps for small business teams. For instance, Slack lets companies set up channels that can be dedicated to particular projects, with project-related documents accessible to participants in the channel discussion. Productivity suites such as Office 365 and Google Docs can also serve as project management tools. These suites come with built-in communications, calendar scheduling and document creation and sharing features, enabling them to be used as a central interface for project managers and team members.

Sales and Customer Service

Technology tools can also help streamline your sales and customer service operations. Some cloud-based customer relationship management interfaces include features and options that enable them to serve as both sales and customer service tools. For instance, Salesforce is primarily a customer relationship management platform geared toward streamlining sales operations, but its CRM function can also be integrated with the Salesforce for Service app.

Other apps are more specifically geared toward customer service. For example, Aspect offers cloud-based customer service tools that let representatives transfer customer service tickets from one agent to another or one channel to another. This avoids customers having to repeat the same information to multiple representatives, eliminating a major source of customer frustration and boosting customer satisfaction.

Updated on May 8, 2017

Books from ABPMP Members


Improving business process performance; gain agility, create value, and achieve success.

Raynus, Joseph.
CRC Press, ©2011 321 p. $79.95 HD58

Raynus, who is associated with an information technology process performance management consulting company, outlines an eight-step holistic process to help managers solve management issues and work on strategic, tactical, and operational levels.

The approach is structured around the process value delivery rather than functions and focuses on up-front planning using already developed methodologies to translate dynamic strategy into action. It involves value creation, management, and sustainment, and aims to alert management to problems and opportunities and use quantitative information and company-wide collaboration in business strategy.

He shows how to integrate improvement approaches such as goal question metric, business process management, lean, and the balanced score card to measure and improve events and link them to the organization's overall strategy. (Annotation ©2011 Book News Inc. Portland, OR.)

Business Process Excellence: Trends and Success Factors 2012

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