Many businesses operate on very small profit margins so any opportunity to reduce costs should be considered and utilized. One of the biggest costs for any business today is labor; reducing the total hours required to complete a task is often the easiest way to reduce costs. Therefore, businesses need to look at ways of managing time better and implementing new technologies that are designed to automate many tasks that people traditionally perform manually.
Computer technologies to save money
Business computer solutions may seem daunting to some, but they do not need to break the back; besides, that would defy their purpose. Small businesses are usually cautious about using new technology because all technology is perceived as being complex and expensive. However, modern solutions are designed to be very easy to use and the cost of setting up new computer systems has fallen dramatically in the last 20 years.
Microsoft has published some data on how technology is helping small businesses in sales and marketing:
One of the biggest cost savings initiatives is allowing employees to telecommute.
If a company can reduce total office space by encouraging some employees to work from home it can save on rent. Modern computers and broadband Internet allow most tasks to be completed remotely.
Smart use of smartphones
Around 15 percent of businesses are now using mobile technology to save money. Smartphones and tablets allow employees working in the field to stay connected and be a more integral part of a team at all times. They help to speed up decision making too.
Another big saving can be made by utilizing Internet conference software. Companies that need to have many meetings experience a lot of wasted time when employees are travelling. Teleconferences eliminate the need to commute to and from meetings and this saves many hours every month.
Teleconferences can also save in other ways. If a company makes many phone calls between offices these calls are an additional telephone cost. By using services such as Skype and Google Talk the call time is included with the Internet bill so no additional costs are incurred.
Data management software
Data management software is a solution that has been designed to help managers to keep track of the vast amount of physical and electronic documentation that is generated by a business every year.
Retrieving documents from archives is a time consuming process. Traditionally all physical documents would be archived in boxes for up to ten years. A local record of each box would be held in the office, usually by the secretary, and if a document is needed the box is requested from the archives, which is often located off-site.
Data management software works by scanning all business documents into a searchable format that is easy to access. The good data management solution, such as iDatix document management, can save money on storage and access costs. It also provides another layer of security for documents and provides ways to integrate documents with business functions. In a way, every archive is converted into a working database.
The main benefit of data management software is that archives can be searched and viewed from any location. This provides a huge cost saving, especially for businesses which generate a lot of data.
It saves time and money by providing easy access to information that can provide invaluable insights into business functions that can help streamline processes in the future.
A huge amount of money is wasted on paper, ink and printers every year. Often many of the documents that are printed could be stored on a computer drive. Storing data on the computer system does not only provide a cost saving benefit, it can provide a company a way of sharing individual documents with many people, as well as a working archive.
Many offices are still using expensive fax machines. A much cheaper alternative is to use an email fax service which stores faxes in email format. Again, this is cheaper than printing and provides a more permanent record.
Open Source software
Did you know that you do not need to use expensive software packages? Microsoft's Word and Excel, and Adobe Photoshop can all be replaced by free Open Source solutions. OpenOffice provides word processor, spreadsheet and presentations solutions that are all very similar to Microsoft's services and GIMP is a free alternative to Photoshop.
Similar to Open Source is Google Drive. If your business has a permanent Internet connection you can use Google Drive to manage all documents. Google provides software for spreadsheets, word processors, drawing and presentations. All documents can be saved on Google Drive, which saves local storage space, and can be made available to business employees only. Also, each document can be downloaded in a traditional format that is compatible with Windows or Apple Mac, allowing documents to be emailed.
The introduction of services such as Google Drive and the rise of Open Source software allows businesses to make huge savings every year. There are many software solutions that help to automate and streamline business processes; however, the biggest savings are often made by reducing the time people have to spend to find and read business documents.