Office supplies manufacturer Brother International found in a 2010 study that corporate America loses more than $177 billion annually due to disorganization. Researchers concluded that the average employee wastes about 76 hours per year searching for files, documents, and even calculators in cluttered cubicles.
Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) can ill-afford to lose that many hours in productivity and expect positive results on their quarterly profit reports. Technology has streamlined many business processes, but there are still many owners and C-Level executives who refuse to embrace these advancements.
Most office workers have likely seen the 1999 comedy “Office Space” and its classic opening scene. Peter Gibbons had apparently misplaced a memo that described a new process for handling “TPS Reports.” He was first asked by the main office manager if he got the memo, followed by his immediate supervisor a few minutes later—then got a phone call from another manager asking if he received it. These time-wasting situations can easily be eliminated by incorporating cloud computing solutions.
Google Docs is a word processor, spreadsheet, and database tool that allows real-time collaboration between several individuals. In other words, it has all the features of Microsoft Office, but with online storage that makes documents accessible to anyone with the password. It’s especially useful when several team members are working together on a project, as it keeps edit logs and allows in-line communication for everyone working on it to see.
DropBox can be used as a one-stop online hard drive to store everything from employee handbooks to blank W4 forms. It allows remote access from any computer or smartphone, along with the ability to synch documents across all devices. DropBox saves money by eliminating the need for paper documents and increases efficiency by neatly organizing important documents all in one place.
The bring-your-own-device (BYOD) phenomenon has quickly evolved from a trendy option to a near necessity for SMBs. Technology research firm Gartner predicts that 38 percent of companies will stop providing devices to employees altogether by 2016. Half of employers will require employees to supply their own devices by 2017, according to the same study. Further, a 2013 Cisco survey found that BYOD employees gain an average of 37 productivity minutes per week over their non-BYOD counterparts.
Devices today like the Samsung Galaxy Note are designed to collect and share ideas with advanced accessories like the functional S Pen that can be used to jot down notes without the need for pen and paper. These devices are also equipped with an enormous amount of battery life—25 hours talk time and up to 420 hours of standby time.
Despite all the advantages of BYOD, data security continues to be a primary concern for IT managers. But mobile device management (MDM) solutions, such as AirWatch and Amtel MDM, are not only compatible with every mobile operating system, but also allow administrators to both remotely lock or wipe any device. Some MDM solutions even allow administrators to keep work and personal data completely separate on devices.
Gerald Hetrick, COO of Vox Mobile, told Business News Daily that companies need to draft enforceable BYOD policies that all employees can easily access. The standards should, at minimum, include an acceptable-use policy, enforcement methods, and a means to contact technical support.
Virtual Appointment Setting
SMBs that deal with numerous inbound appointment requests from customers likely cannot afford to hire someone specifically to field calls and cannot waste time playing phone tag when customers leave messages. Cloud-based scheduling systems can handle the entire process, while keeping everything neatly organized.
Genbook allows customers to go straight to your website or social media page, and book appointments based on times you make available. They automatically receive email confirmation once they book the appointment. KickServ and Mhelpdesk are two more options to consider.
Technology has made it possible for any business to run as smoothly and efficiently as ownership wants it to. It’s simply a matter of learning and embracing all the technological possibilities to maximize profits and minimize risk.