The use of web-based or ‘cloud’ software in SMEs is gradually becoming more the norm than otherwise. In fact, many of us have been using the cloud for years – such as through email and more recently through social media. While cloud-based applications for business are still relatively new, they are in the process of maturing and evolving, with new types of tools and applications popping up all the time.
One of the main advantages of cloud software is that you usually don’t have to commit to the purchase of a full program and updates are generally included. You can try out most of the programs through free trials to see how well they work for you and your business. Many of the programs have different levels of subscription which you can select depending on the size of your business, and the features you want, and come with the flexibility to change plans or add new features as your business needs change.
Here are some of the more useful cloud-based programs for SMEs.
Office and data management
- Office Time – time-tracking software that records billable time worked, calculates costs, and generates invoices and reports. It may suit service businesses that bill by the hour. There is a 21-day free trial available and a one-off cost of around $68 to purchase, which includes upgrades.
- Office 365 for Business – this software comes with Microsoft programs including Word, Excel, Outlook, Publisher, OneNote and others. Plans start at $7 per user per month.
- Sales Force – this is a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform for businesses of all sizes. It comes with analytical tools, sales forecasting, reports, data sharing and other features. Plans start at $35 per user per month and come with free trials.
- Box – online data storage and secure file sharing software that provides 5GB of free storage. Prices start at $6 per user per month.
Bookkeeping and accounting
- Xero – excellent full accounting program that includes bank feeds, invoicing, reconciliations, payroll, inventory, reports, depreciation, multi-currency capacity and other features, plus compatible add-ons for specialist solutions. There is a 30-day free trial, with prices starting at $25 per month.
Social media management
- Sprout Social – this software pulls all your social network activities onto the one dashboard. It can also be used to schedule posts, collect messages from all your social media accounts from the one inbox, and measure marketing campaigns using analytical tools. Starts at $59 per month.
- Hootesuite – includes post scheduling, analytics and other features for all your social media accounts with the capacity to connect with popular apps. There is a free version for up to three networks. Paid versions start at $11 per month.
For professional assistance in running your business’s finances, including accounting, taxation, financial planning, and superannuation, our Xero accountants in Sydney can assist. Contact us for more details.