Small business software is sometimes limited to accounting software and office suites, like Microsoft Office and OpenOffice.org. Small business operators often do not have a need for any other applications. As a business grows, it will come to rely on more sophisticated software, and software to perform other functions. Business software serves to increase productivity or track productivity, and it is normally only larger businesses that will be able to make and justify the investment needed to acquire software for these purposes. Also, in most cases, small business operators operate their businesses directly and personally and are able to monitor and manage productivity without the use of software. As a business grows, operators may become less directly involved in day-today management, and may come to rely more on software for business management.
Certain types of software are necessary and even critical in small business operations. Other software, while not essential, is still desirable and may be worth its cost, and may be worth the investment of time needed to implement it. The programs listed and described here might be looked upon as the top ten programs needed for small business. Some of these items are essentials, while others will be desirable, even if not exactly required
1. Operating System
Microsoft Office 2010 is the latest Microsoft edition of its trusty old office suite. By suite is meant a collection of applications that perform basic office functions. These include Outlook for email, Word for word processing, Excel for spreadsheets, Access for databases, PowerPoint for presentations, OneNote for drafting and using notebooks, InfoPath for form drafting and management, Sharepoint Workspace for drafting and editing of documents by more than one person, Lync for communications management, and Publisher for desktop publishing, as in making flyers, brochures, business cards, and other items for print. Office comes in a variety of different packages, from Office Home all the way to Office Professional. Office can be quite expensive, with the Professional version selling for $499.00. A free alternative is OpenOffice.org, released in 2000 and published by Oracle. OpenOffice is designed to be fully compatible with Microsoft office, and to be able to open and use documents and forms published with Office, but in fact it is not. OpenOffice remains limited in functionality.
3. Accounting Software
Accounting is often done manually in a small business setting, but accounting software will simplify and expedite the process, and may improve accuracy. Accounts payable, accounts receivable, and payroll can all be managed using accounting software. There are many different accounting programs on the market, including free programs like FUEL and Wave. Two premium small business accounting applications are QuickBooks and are Peachtree. These are considered easy to use and fully functional even in running auto loan business.
4. Management Information Systems
Businesses involved in direct sales can benefit from the use of lead management software. This is true in both business to business selling and business to consumer selling. Two well known makers of this software are ACT and Leads360. Locally installed leads management software will normally involve an investment of a few hundred dollars with a short learning curve. The function is also available online, with database management on a remote server and log-in privileges given to users.
8. Inventory Management Software
Companies that maintain inventory can benefit from the use of inventory management software. Inventory may be a small business’s single largest expense. Use this software to create packing lists and inventory reports. QuickBooks and NetSuite are two big names in inventory management software.
9. Project Management Software
Project scheduling and management are important functions in any construction or maintenance business. Project management software provides for estimation, planning, scheduling, and cost control. Two full featured project management software releases are 4PM and Clarity.
10. Document Management Software
Document management refers to drafting and editing of documents for distribution, normally in PDF form. Information can be readily and conveniently shared in PDF form. The best known of all document management or PDF programs is Adobe Acrobat. Acrobat has been in release for over ten years, and is currently in version ten. To buy Acrobat from Adobe will cost over four hundred dollars. There are less expensive alternatives for PDF drafting and editing, including even freeware.
Kathleen Hubert is a blogger who writes on a variety of different sites. Check out more of her work at auto loans.