The use of computer hardware, such as laptops, scanners and printers, has exploded in recent decades. Software designed to increase management efficiency abound. By making efficient use of office applications for word processing, spreadsheet creation and presentations, business management professionals can increase the productivity for everyone in the company. Small businesses can purchase office applications from vendors such as Microsoft or Apple or they use free software from organizations such as OpenOffice.org.
Making the best use of an email application typically depends setting rules to manage incoming messages, setting up standards for signatures, out-of-office replies and other templates. To eliminate distractions and improve productivity, successful small business management should set aside specific times of day to review their email. They should consider turning off the distracting chime that announces new email. Spam filters help remove unnecessary messages. When employees use descriptive subject lines, managers can scan incoming email quickly and identify the critical message that need immediate action. Effective managers learn to deal with a message once by reading it and then deleting, responding or filing for later action in a subfolder.
Workflow and Collaborative Software
Collaboration software, such as SharePoint, enables managers to use formal workflows to route documents from one employee to another. With clear directives, employees take action promptly and ensure that work flows smoothly and efficiently throughout the organization. By scanning paper documents and making them available online, small business managers reduce the time it takes to communicate and share critical information.
Maintaining an online calendar helps everyone operate more efficiently because all employees can see and interact with a consolidated view of the work. Regular meetings can be scheduled in advance so people can plan their own schedules more effectively. By listing employee vacations and other personal time away from the office, managers can quickly see when additional coverage is required.
Project Management Software
Project management tools, such as Microsoft Project, Basecamp or Zoho, allow a busy small business project manager to enter project tasks, assign resources and monitor progress. Because information can easily be shared with project team members, successful project managers save time and reduce paper waste. Instead of distributing paper documents for status updates, plans or action items, they collaborate with team members online and only print when necessary, such as for approval signing.
Smartphones and Laptops
By using smartphone technology, employees stay in touch when they are out of the office. Office applications synchronize with phone applications to maximize productivity. Effective personnel maintain their contact lists, personal notes and appointments on their phones. They view documents on their phones and laptops, minimizing the need for paper copies.
The use of Internet resources reduces the need for cumbersome manuals and other printed reference material. Mobile employees use external hard drives and USB connectors to transfer documents from one computer to another and to create backups in case of emergency or disaster. Social media technology, such as wikis, blogs and forums, make it possible for managers to interact with subordinates, peers, superiors and customers more effectively.