So who’s unsure about using apps in the workplace? We’re not talking about your public transport or wine app, but apps designed to help your business improve productivity and reduce costs. There is an app for almost every business need, and if you ignore them you risk being left behind while your competitors surge ahead.
Telstra research shows a whopping 75 per cent of small businesses are still reliant on traditional paper-based tools, spending an estimated $608 million a year on paper. And although there are many business apps for smartphones and tablets, only 24 per cent of small businesses are using them in the workplace.
Yet business apps can bring huge benefits. They can help you automate manual processes, support document sharing for greater collaboration, electronically sign documents, track tasks, create digital invoices, replace paper forms, gather information in the field, and much more.
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Kiss Paperwork Goodbye
One of the main benefits of business apps is reducing the amount of paper we use. For example, a common glitch in automated digital processes is stopping everything to print a document for signing, then filing and mailing or faxing it. This can be a waste of time and money. DocuSign is an example of a business app that allows people to easily produce an electronic signature (eSignature) by signing documents on a compatible mobile device with their finger.
Electronic signatures speed up business processes by eliminating paper, and reducing employee time spent sending, tracking and handling documents. Not to mention reducing paper, ink, printing, faxing, postage and courier costs. For example, if you are signing up a new customer using an application form or contract, the customer can sign with their finger on a tablet, and return it to you electronically within minutes. Without an eSignature, this process could take days posting, faxing, and chasing signatures. Electronic signatures also create an audit history; they are an easy way to keep track of who authorised a document, and when.
But business apps can also help digitise your paper documents for easy storage and access. For example, the Shoeboxed app scans photos of receipts and invoices then extracts relevant information to sort into common tax categories such as transport and amenities. And once everything is online, it’s easy to generate expense reports. All your records and reports are easily accessible on the go and can be easily shared with your accountant and financial planner.
Business apps are taking advantage of cloud computing, making it easier and quicker for small businesses to access and share information as they need it. For example, the Box app stores documents online in the cloud, allowing information and ideas to be shared more quickly. This improves collaboration among your staff, which might give your business the edge over your competitors.
Apps on mobile devices allow you to access information –- so you can respond to queries or make decisions –- while you’re on the go. You can make better use of time that would otherwise be unproductive, such as waiting for meetings to start or sitting around in airports.
Best of all, it’s easy to start using apps to help your business boost productivity and cut costs. Many apps let you just install and go. Telstra’s making this easy by launching an app store called the Telstra Apps Marketplace, a one-stop shop for business apps.