Sadly, this isn’t a post on the technical specifications of Captain Kirk’s weather-worn Starship Enterprise, which claims to ‘boldly go where no man has gone before’ (yes, the split infinitive hurts us, too). Instead, we’re talking enterprise software, so dubbed because it helps organizations rather than individual users achieve their operational goals. This can be a great resource for SMBs.
From clubs and charities, to governments and multi-billion dollar corporations, enterprise software has been helping scores of organizational entities succeed in a variety of different ways. An organization becomes more efficient and productive by automating its operations. Instead of tedious manual work, all you need is a few clicks to log and retrieve required information. The software tools can automate your billing processes, monitor your newsletter campaigns, analyze customer feedback, or track business assets through simple, easy-to-use business applications accessible right from your computer!
This kind of enterprise software was initially only thought to be appropriate for larger organizations (kind of how it was only acceptable for celebrities to name their children after fruit in the 90s). The reason for this perception was the higher cost of enterprise software. Also, it seemed too much bother for SMBs to start automating their processes. How things change! The advent of software-as-a-service (SaaS) has significantly lowered the amount a business has to pay for enterprise software. Rather than insanely large lump sums, SaaS vendors provide software on a subscription basis (e.g. a recurring monthly or annual payment). Here’s a table showing how cost effective the leading SaaS products are.
|SaaS Product||What it does||Most popular plan|
|Quickbooks||Finance, Accounting and Payrolls||$40 per month|
|Salesforce||Customer Relationship Management||$125 per month|
|EZOfficeInventory||Asset Tracking (Equipment and Inventory)||$95 per month|
|Basecamp||Project Management||$29 per month|
|Zendesk||Helpdesk||$49 per month|
SaaS providers generally have a flexible pricing structure. It’s based on number of users, extent of usage, and set of features. Another cool part is being able to upgrade, downgrade or unsubscribe at any time – no strings attached! A good SaaS product will have a set of minimal and uncomplicated actions required to set things up. It will also be web-based. This means you don’t have to invest in any structural set up (Server Deployment or System Configuration etc.) and pay only for what you actually need in terms of capacity and functionality.
Today, around 21% and 31% of small and medium-sized businesses use SaaS respectively. This is because SaaS Products have features particularly suited to an SMB’s smaller operations, lower budgets, and tighter margins for error. All good enterprise software has a few things in common, helping SMBs achieve their operational goals a lot more effectively.
It’s like hiring a kick-ass consultant
Enterprise software wins big on one thing; Collective Intelligence! A SaaS product usually is an off-the-shelf offering with fewer configuration options. When a wide range of organizations having similar problems work with the same product; they give the SaaS product designer interesting insights. The guesswork turns into pretty accurate data-backed workflows and features. For example, instead of hiring an accountant, you can start using Quickbooks and it will guide you through everything with the utmost ease. You’ll be using the industry’s best practices in accounting, and will have standardized workflows.
A lot of software, be it there to help you manage your customer relations or balance your ledgers, can process the data you put in over the months and create reports giving you detailed insights into your operational efficiency. By mapping this information in a systematic and standardized way, not only do you have access to better-researched predictions and trends, but can also see how different pieces of information relate to each other, which is often difficult to do manually. With software, you don’t speculate how things look. Instead, you look up the data to understand where your organization stands. A SaaS product therefore eliminates speculation arising from manual work much more effectively.
Amp up your agility
Acclaimed American essayist William S. Burroughs said, ‘Man is externalizing himself in the form of gadgets’. Maybe we’ll add carefully orchestrated pictures of bowls of Instagram grub to that list, too. And of course, software. You can pull up whatever information you want, whenever you want it. Whether you need some very specific financial data from the last quarter, or an overview of the way your assets are being utilized by a specific employee, enterprise software can give you all kinds of information – concise, in-depth, graphical, textual, etc. Sure, you can hire better skilled employees who can help overlook asset management, for example. But in today’s fast paced world things change rapidly. And software (especially a SaaS product) is so much more flexible than people.
Since it’s web-based, there are always new features coming in. This empowers your employees to be true “knowledge workers” and embrace the rapid changes quickly, and stay on top of their game. Software solutions help you to acclimate to new informational systems, process data quicker, and increase the agility with which your business responds to changing market trends. This, of course, is an especially relevant for SMBs since growth is important for them. This kind of growth requires embracing challenges, being responsive, and making lots of decisions quickly. A software that provides insights into key organizational functions plays a pivotal role in this process.
Enterprise Software increases efficiency and reduces losses. Individuals on your team become more empowered, aware and productive. This means smaller teams can achieve bigger goals. The contribution of each individual to your organization increases substantially (bonus: fewer people to make awkward small-talk with in the mornings!). Enterprise software can greatly lower the amount of funds an SMB has to dedicate to operations such as managing workforce morale, finessing business intelligence, or scheduling social media campaigns. This is great news for all SMB owners, because money management is often cited as one of the biggest problems faced by this group. Of course, technology can also be less fickle than people – you know your latest data management software isn’t going to call in sick a day before the big meeting with Mr. Yakamoto!
Establish smarter gateways
Think of enterprise software as a slightly posh, mustachioed butler standing at the door to your house and turning away anyone who wears a cravat unironically. Sure, you can password-protect your spreadsheets, or lock away consumer reports. That still can’t beat most enterprise software, which has several tiers of security built into the system, with safety nets to ensure that your data is only handed over to pre-approved personnel. Not just this, but there may also be graded levels of access itself, with the same data pool only giving a portion of information to people depending on the kind of access they have. In fact, this is not just about security, but convenience too; enterprise software can allow hundreds of people to access a single bit of information at the same time!
In summary, enterprise software is a great resource for SMBs. It can reduce guesswork, shorten response times, save SMBs money and help them be a lot more secure in their day-to-day operations. This kind of software can therefore help small- and medium-sized businesses have an edge over their larger competitors, establish themselves more firmly in the market, and generally achieve their business goals with a lot more ease.
This piece of writing is inspired by EZOfficeInventory’s interactions with thousands of small and medium businesses around the globe. We’ve helped them increase their ROI on equipment and workforce as it relates to Asset Tracking and Inventory Management.
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