Now small businesses have more software choices than ever. Considering the fact that you have to manage a lot of information, you should find the one that is best for you. Should you purchase an integrated suite that can handle many aspects of your business, or should you buy different solutions for separate functions? According to Inc Magazine, experts say it all depends.
First, let’s clarify the difference between back-office and front-office software. The definition is up for debate. As organizations have fewer people doing more functions, the line between what was once two distinct categories has been blurred. “Back office” software refers to the platforms and interfaces that don’t interface with customers but helps you with the management of core functions such as human resources, accounting, or manufacturing. Enterprise resource planning (ERP), for instance, is a term that entails many back-office functions. “Front office” software on the other hand is often related to customer relationship management (or CRM) and is key for the management of sales, marketing, and other data that is customer-facing. Also included are things like social media tools and customer service solutions.
Accounting & Financial
When it comes to software for accounting and finance, there’s Intuit’s Quickbooks and and Sage Peachtree at the front of the pack. As a matter of fact, more than half of small businesses use Intuit software. Peachtree captures a smaller share of the market but offers similar features and pricing. Quickbooks also has an online version available that stores financial data safely on the cloud. These two software are great but they aren’t the only ones you can use. Outright is a good software for estimating taxes, and Mint is a free software that is popular with businesses operating on a tight budget. As far as tracking expenses, Expensify is a good choice, and so is Coupa. For companies that have outgrown Peachtree or Quickbooks, there’s Intacct, a full-featured accounting solution.
While you might not consider Microsoft Word or Excel to be back office software, applications such as these are not only crucial to the operations of many businesses, but they can also be of internal use with no customer interfacing. But if you’re tired of paying big bucks for Microsoft Office, there’s some other suggestions.
Oracle’s free software OpenOffice offers similar tools to Microsoft Office. These tools can be read and edited in common software like Word and PowerPoint. If a cloud option is your preference, GoogleApps for Business will offer Google Apps, such as G-Mail, Calendar, and Docs, as well as Groups and Video, all for a small fee per month. Office365 has similar offerings with the familiar Office interfaces you may have come to love, but with storage on the cloud rather than your desktop.
The software market is full of excellent options for small businesses. Many have overlaps in functionality and are applicable to various industries. It’s best to look within the organization and see what’s best for the needs to be addressed, all within the budget.