Efficient administration is essential in whichever line of work you are in, leaving more time to concentrate on other aspects of business. This often results in increased productivity and profit.
This post brings together 10 of the very best business management tools; superb pieces of software that will save time in offices and companies of any size, from the solo freelancer to big corporations.
Basecamp is an immensely popular project management platform, designed to focus on communication, collaboration and clarity. Easy-to-use and accessible, the software enables communication and idea sharing, responsibility and workload allocation, on-time project deliveries and reusable templates. Basecamp is highly email-friendly, with automatic notifications when any team member posts a message or comment, and offers the option for a daily digest report to summarize project actions. The tool is also compatible with iPhone, Android, Blackberry and other mobile devices so Basecamp lets you track projects on the move.
Basecamp pricing plans vary depending on the volume of projects and storage space, including the Plus account at $49 per month, Premium at $99 per month, and the top-of-the-line Max at $149 per month. A 30-day free trial is available on all accounts.
FreshBooks is the leader in online billing software, making time tracking, invoicing and expenses simple and efficient. The easy-to-use interface makes billing quick and simple. You can track and report on your colleagues’ time, and the related app means you can keep up to date via iPhones and other devices. Branded invoices create a highly professional feel to all billing and contract documents, and FreshBooks’ accounting integrations help you manage your books.
FreshBooks offers a choice of pricing options from $0 to $39.95 per month, varying according to the number of clients you want to manage and additional staff access to your account. There is a 30-day money back guarantee on FreshBooks pricing packages.
Harvest is another great administration tool for easy tracking, invoicing and business management. The package allows you to keep up-to-date with time tracking from the desktop or mobile device; speedy online invoicing; and powerful report features for earnings, budgets and expenses. There is also a selection of add-ons on offer, allowing you to connect Harvest with your other favourite business tools.
Harvest provides a choice of flexible pricing plans including Free Forever, Solo at $12 per month, Basic at $40 per month, and the premium Business plan at $90 per month.
iDinero is a real-time business dashboard allowing you to monitor the financial health of your accounts anytime. The software automatically downloads financial information, removing the need for time-consuming data entry. The platform’s proprietary algorithms monitor accounts and offer future financial predictions based on these findings. Bank-level security defends all your essential information; inDinero is trusted and supported by more than 10,000 financial institutions.
inDinero is priced according to the number of monthly transactions, from the free Solo package, the popular Small Business option at $29.95 per month, to the premium Enterprise package with unlimited transactions at $99.95 per month.
5. Google Docs
Google Docs is the perfect way to manage online all your documents, spreadsheets, presentations, surveys, file storage and much more. The tools allow you to upload essential files from the desktop and then access them anywhere online and on handheld devices. Google Docs also allows you to share files with colleagues, clients and contractors for real-time collaborations.
Creating a Google Account, which provides access to Google Docs’ powerful features and Google’s other online services, is completely free of charge.
Keeping your taxes in order is an essential part of business management, whether you are a freelancer working from home or running a business with employees, and TurboTax is one of the bestselling tools for this aspect of your finances. TurboTax guides users through taxation to maximize deductions, returns and credit. The software double-checks data throughout the taxation process, and support staff are available to answer questions at every step.
There is a choice of five different packages depending on the size of your operation, from the Basic for simple returns, to Business, which is aimed at large corporations and partnerships. Price range from $29.95 to $129.95 per month.
Entrepreneurs, freelancers and businesses of all sizes need to communicate effectively with clients to seal and maintain contracts; for this purpose Highrise is the perfect tool for customer relationship management. The software helps control the mountain of emails, phone calls, notes, follow-ups and tasks that builds up on any project, and shares communications histories across the entire company. By making sense of every kind of customer interaction, Highrise leaves you perfectly prepared for any business communication.
Highrise pricing plans vary depending on the number of users and volume of storage space including the Basic account at $24 per month, Solo at $29 per month, Plus account at $49 per month, Premium at $99 per month, and the top-of-the-line Max at $149 per month. A 30-day free trial is available on all accounts.
Doodle is a neat online meeting scheduler, allowing you and your associates to arrange and keep informed of up coming meetings, business lunches, conference calls or any other group event. The tool is easily linked to multiple calendar platforms, and can be accessed on mobile devices.
Doodle can be used free of charge, or there are two choices of upgraded subscriptions. Doodle Premium is perfect for ad-free personalized scheduling and is priced at E22/$28 for one year, or E8/$10 for three months. Branded Doodle is designed for larger scale business scheduling and is priced at E380/$4480 per year, or E120/$150 for three month’s use.
Zendesk is a brilliant tool for online customer support with an ingenious ticket management and self-service customer community platform. It’s extremely easy to set up and get started, and Zendesk is compatible with mobile devices.
Pricing plans for Zendesk include the Starter package at $9 per month; Regular at $24 per month; and the premium Plus+ package at $49 per month. All packages are available for a 30-day trial with access to all features free of charge.
10. Catch the Best
It’s important for businesses to choose the best candidate for every position that arises, and one of the finest tools to make this possible is Catch the Best. The software provides collaborative tracking, managing, sharing and rating for all incoming job applications and resumes. Users can easily follow communications with applicants, and share with colleagues so candidates can be rated within the company. The tool’s powerful features make the hiring process easy and help ensure the most suitable person joins the team.
Catch the Best is available in a selection of pricing plans from the Basic at $29 per month, Advanced at $49 per month, and Deluxe at $99 per month. Every account comes with a cost-free 30-day trial.
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I’ve been using Google Docs, it’s pretty useful….
When you say basecamp is accessible do you mean accessible to people with disabilities? Or just accessible as in you can get to it on the internet. I’m used to hearing that term used for many meanings. I’ve been asked by a blind person if basecamp was accessible so I’m curious but have not tested it yet.
This is a great list! One more to mention is Office 365 – releasing in early 2011. This suite will replace BPOS and add in Office and calling features. There are different pricing structures and solutions to cater to small businesses up to enterprise.
I would love to give Basecamp a go. Too bad they all have a monthly fee.
Basecamp is awesome if you are a designer/developer. We use it to manage projects in my personal side business made up of several developers/designers/copywriters.
Due to the success I have had with Basecamp in the above mentioned business I thought that it would be a great tool to implement in the workflow at my day job. During the day I work for a small company with several sales/marketing people, they hated it. Initially I thought they just were not being open to change, so I asked them to continue with it to give it a chance to grow on them.
For some reason they were not able to use it, not sure why. They said it was not a logical system for managing our projects like SalesForce.
After a little laugh about the SalesForce comparison and some thought I realized that BaseCamp is not really geared for “sales” people and lead management. Sales and marketing people have different needs in terms of the structure of information.
Some of these look great! I already use a time clock for payroll, but I wonder if it can synch up with Harvest. Hm…
Thanks for the great list! I was using Basecamp and Google Docs so far, will surely try out some more tools now.
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Google Docs is incredible. Such a useful resource, especially considering it’s accessible from any PC with internet connection.
There’s some good payroll software that can cut time for businesses too; see this infographic: http://small-business-software.iris.co.uk/smeBlog/post/How-much-time-would-you-save-if-you-used-payroll-software-.aspx
Personally, I prefer the web-based online time tracking tool like Toggl or TimeDoctor. By using this software, you don’t have to block any social media sites because you could monitor what sites they’ve visited. There is no reason for your employees to go to some non-work related sites while working, so their tendency is to stay away from those sites in order for them to avoid getting into trouble.
Installing a monitoring software makes your staff more productive. Sometimes, we need a little bit of help and motivation to make ourselves and our staff focus on work. Just make sure to choose the tool that tracks time accurately.
That’s a pretty nice list of tools. Have you checked out HappyFox?HappyFox is a useful customer support tool which has helped us address our customers promptly. HappyFox is well designed with automation features which help us collate requests and manage them online. With affordable monthly pricing-plans, HappyFox has also helped us to keep our costs under control.
Good list! Out of these tools we use Zendesk, FreshBooks & Google docs. Apart from these tools I also use DeskAway for project management, collaboration & the best part is its integrated with Freshbooks & Google docs.
How about Replicon Resource management software?
Yeah FreshBooks is great, a bit expensive though, Im also using InvoiceBird it’s handy.
A bit tired of the Zendesk hype. It’s okay for external customer support but you’ll outgrow it fast…as soon as you need to cover internal IT support, you’ll be looking for some form of help desk software to cover both bases.
Help desk software can do anything that customer support software can do but customer support software can’t do everything help desk software does. i.e. associate an employee’s service request to an actual piece of hardware. No asset management in something like Zendesk.
Think long term. Choose wisely.
I already tried Harvest and Freshbooks and finaly I found http://www.nutcache.com to be the perfect invoicing, expense management and time tracking web application for me.
This web application is free without any limitation and it is available in 10 languages … simple awesome.