By Katie Simpson on February 23, 2014
As a small business, you're constantly trying to do as much as the big guys, but with less time and less man power. If you've been keeping up on your research, you'll know that, rest and renewal are key for our long term productivity. So how can a small business truly compete when they are expected to do more everyday?
The trick isn't to figure out how to expand your work, but how to decrease your workload. While some ways of doing this can be organization, taking mini breaks, and even avoiding your email, small businesses need a long term solution. One key way to save hundreds of hours in a year can be through small business apps, automating data collection.
Small businesses have collected information on paper for years. Inventories, surveys, inspections, and checklists are just some of the many types of forms that have piled up in offices. Before the advent of the computer and internet, this was the best way to collect data and bring it back to the office.
Today, filling out forms by hand is time consuming. Perhaps your workers need to write detailed descriptions of equipment, or calculate product orders. In addition, workers in the field require extra time to return these forms back to the office. This could be hours or days after the data was initially collected. If you have five workers spending just one hour each a week dropping forms off at your office, your business is wasting 250 hours on transporting data!
But wait, are you entering this information into your system by hand? This also requires extra time to fill out information. If those same five workers need to each spend an hour a week on data entry, you are losing another 250 hours on redundant data entry.
Switching to apps for small business removes these pain points immediately. Going mobile allows you to use drop down menus, prepopulate forms, and computer calculations, saving your workers time. Some of our clients have cut their times from 30 minutes per inspection to just 5 minutes.
Even better, small business apps erase the need for data entry. When finished, submissions go straight to the cloud. That gives your office access to data in real time. You can then integrate your data in the cloud with your database. Simply download an xml or csv file for easy integration with your own system. Mobile apps can integrate easily with a variety of systems, from Quickbooks to Salesforce. Don't waste your time with data entry, your time is far more valuable.
We've all made errors on paper. Maybe you miscalculated 200 + 300. Or you added an extra 8 in someone's address. For some of us, coffee and paper seem inexorably linked. No matter what mishap you've had, it's easy to lose information with paper. From missing fields, to damaged forms, there are no safety nets with paper forms. These mistakes cost you time, chasing down workers trying to get information, or a full loss of data. Even if you only spend one hour a week trying to fix your data, you're spending over 50 hours a year.
Small businesses have stronger data with mobile apps. Errors are far less likely to happen with them, due to in app calculations, clearer text, and even GPS location capture for addresses for the best possible data collection. In the cloud, your data is also protected from life's vagaries (and impossible for coffee to touch). Going mobile will protect your data, and let you spend your time on growing your business, not on damage control.
As a small business, you are a lifeblood of the economy. You are a job creator, crucial for your community. But, you're human like everyone else with limitations. By switching to a business app, take a bit of the workload off your business and your employees. Focus on the work that grows your business, and let your mobile app handle the data. A little bit of rest will let you go even further.