For most small business owners and sole proprietors, the thought of running their operations without software applications is incomprehensible. Whether for accounting, appointment-scheduling, human resources, e-marketing or payment-processing, these programs have allowed them to function more efficiently, automate their processes, streamline procedures, and, for many, have enabled them to successfully grow their businesses. And thanks to advancements in technology such as cloud-computing, these software applications are easy to implement and affordable to all businesses, not just larger ones with the money and manpower to afford intricate internal networks or an IT staff.
A growing number of software providers are also supplying another much-needed benefit to small-business operations: the ability to sync data between individual software applications.
Synchronizing Your Tasks
It probably wasn’t too long after small business software applications first hit the market that owners and their staff began envisioning how even more beneficial these programs would be if they had the ability to instantly transfer information between them. Sure, some of the larger business software packages with greater functionality may have had this ability, but not the task-specific ones that most small businesses and sole proprietors were purchasing. Although the software simplified a specific task, it still required the manual entry of data into other sources, such as:
- Recording payment-processing information from an appointment-scheduling application to an accounting program.
- Adding customer e-mail addresses from database to an e-marketing program.
- Updating a personal calendar with information and details recorded in a work calendar.
This meant time and resources were necessary, making office processes not as efficient as they could be. It also created room for errors, which are almost unavoidable when information is manually entered into a file or spreadsheet, as well as the need to continually manage and monitor data sources.
Some options, such as custom-programming, might have been available, but these typically were not in the affordable price range of most business owners.
Realizing the growing need business owners and their staff had for instantly transferring data between different software applications, software developers, especially those with cloud-based programs, began creating functionality that enabled them to accomplish this. Many of these initial developments were fairly simple in nature, such as allowing users to upload a database file—such as customer contact information or e-mail addresses—into their software. Although a lot more efficient than manual entry, it still required several additional steps, such as creating the file, locating it when prompted to by the system, and then uploading it.
As was soon learned, the better option for transferring data seamlessly and instantly between applications was through a sync that automatically conducted the data move with just a click of a button. In most cases, these new sync features are conveniently found right in the administrative or staff side of the application, so that users can conduct the sync while logged into their software, instead of having to navigate to another application. This approach is now becoming commonplace among software providers, especially cloud-based ones. Although these syncs can vary among the many common business applications, some popular ones include syncs with Web-based calendars, such as the popular Google and Microsoft Outlook varieties, accounting software such as QuickBooks, and e-marketing services such as Constant Contact and iContact. If you are wondering which of your applications can sync together, explore the admin settings, online help or FAQs inside the application, or simply contact the software company’s technical support department.
There’s no need to settle for just efficient. With the proper sync, a business owner and staff can be “super efficient” and operate even more proficiently than before.