digital tools business management 1

Trying to manage a small business but finding yourself constantly swamped with admin? You’re not alone. Keeping track of products and customers is hard enough without getting involved with staff scheduling, social media promotion and company finances and yet, these really are the key to staying in business long-term.

Whether you’re working to get a fledgling business of the ground or simply want a better handle on a small existing company, these five, inexpensive platforms will help you to streamline each area of your operations and free up your precious time to focus on the things that matter.

1. Managing your… Staff

If you don’t have a dedicated HR Manager, then keeping track or your staff schedules, holidays and sick leave is usually one of the biggest headaches of running your own business. A large number of teams still rely on spreadsheets or even handwritten timetables to circulate rotas and availability between staff, but these methods are hugely time-consuming, rife with miscommunication and generally prone to error.

Planday, a workforce scheduling software, brings workforce rota and communication into the 21st century. One platform provides all staff with instant access to their schedule (no need to come in on days off), allows them to make changes, swap shifts and submit time-off requests in one, easy-to-use interface. You can create rota templates based on a standard working week, easily see where your gaps are and even calculate the wages of each shift.

2. Managing your… Website

Any business trying to manage their own website and digital marketing needs to be using Google Analytics. Completely free to use, the suite of tools is essential for tracking the effectiveness of your web pages, email promotions and other online touchpoints. You can find out where your online traffic is coming from, identify trends in consumer behaviour and determine which parts of your pages are working the hardest.

Google even offers a free training course to help you understand how to get the most out of your digital presence and reach more customers. 

3. Managing your… Social Media

Trying to wrangle multiple social media accounts is difficult for even the most adept multi-tasker. If you’ve decided that curating, scheduling and posting a consistent social media feed is essential for your business, you’re going to want to start using a management tool to help you keep a handle on your posts, likes, replies and shares.

While there are plenty of apps designed to optimise your feed on particular platforms (like Later for Instagram or Tweetdeck for Twitter), the top spot for managing multiple accounts still belongs to Hootsuite. Connecting over 35 different networks including all the big hitters like Facebook, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube, as well as countless tools for posting, tracking and reporting. Accounts are managed in streams and tabs (rather than one overloaded inbox), allowing you to create your own dashboard to listen to your customers and engage in conversation.

Hootsuite offers different payment plans depending on the size of your team, and you can start a free, 30-day trial before committing.

4. Managing your… Projects

Experienced project managers will know them as ‘Gantt’ charts, while mere mortals might just consider them to be timelines or production plans. Whatever you call them, having an accessible chart where all team members can track project progress is pretty essential for many businesses. Rather than working from an old-school paper and pen board, Monday provides a digital platform where everyone in the team can see who’s working on what and how far along they are.

Your team can easily communicate with relevant colleagues regarding specific tasks (no more horrendous email chains), receive real-time notifications about comments and use a simple drag-and-drop feature to keep all related documents in a central location. As a manager, this helps you plan upcoming workloads, estimate delivery dates and understand which areas are slowing down the rest of the project and need help.

5. Managing your… Expenses

Fed up of your wallet bulging with debit cards, credit cards and loyalty cards, with work and personal accounts all mixed in together? Curve eliminates this problem completely. It’s not a bank account – just one clever card-and-app combination, connecting all of your accounts in one place.

To use it, you scan all of your cards into the secure app, set which one you want to be your default account and use your Curve card in place of all of them. If you want to pay for something on a corporate card, simply switch the active account on the app. Even better, if you forget to switch cards before you get to the till, you can retrospectively reassign expenses under £1000 to a different account, up to two weeks later. The app also lets you see transaction history (with new spends added instantly), automatically tags the category of the purchase and can be integrated with Xero accounting software – perfect for business.

Best of all? It’s completely free for the basic card, you just need to download the app and join the waiting list.

Of course, these are just five examples of current tools designed to boost management productivity in the workplace. There are literally thousands of apps that can help you run every aspect of your business, even in the most niche industries. While it might often feel like you don’t have time to stop, dedicating a couple of hours to finding the best digital tools for your business will make a huge difference to your time, budget and personnel management in the future.

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