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Five ways small businesses can maximise productivity with technology

The technological boom of recent years has dramatically changed the way we work, but how can we make our technology work harder?

It may be a while before robots are completely running the office, but the smartest businesses are already getting technology to do more and more of the work for them.

Here are five ways small businesses can maximise productivity with technology.

1. Outsourcing

Organisations, especially smaller ones, are increasingly finding benefit in outsourcing tasks to external partners or freelancers, thus increasing the productivity of their staff. While outsourcing is hardly new – even the Romans outsourced their army – technology vastly improves the process of finding a skilled worker and making sure they’re qualified for the job.

Social networks are central to the process of discovery. The best provide an easy way to find freelancers – and get feedback on the quality of their work.

Key technology: LinkedIn is great for a general search but there are also some useful niche networks like Elance that are used specifically by freelancers – and include reviews and ratings of previous work.

2. Social media management

CEOs and senior management should be driving the vision forward with their ideas and talents, but many are wasting their time doing menial tasks.
One of these is social media management. Not just because the strategic use of social media by small business isn’t clearly understood, but because studies have revealed that small businesses, and the senior people who run them, are tinkering around making endless updates.

There are plenty of tools to help automate social media updates and take the ponderousness out of posting.

Key technology: Social Oomph has some great functions to automate updates, including repetitive posts about key pieces of news.

3. Tasks and project management

Setting and managing tasks like to-dos, reminders, time-tracking and calendars can be pretty laborious − especially if these tasks are managed disparately under separate systems and log-ins. There are now many cloud-based management systems that allow most of the main admin tasks to be managed on one platform.

Good examples are intuitive, easy to use and increase productivity by keeping everything in one place, under one access point, with one round of training for staff.

Key technology: Evernote Premium* is an extremely useful system for collating ideas, tasks, projects and research in one place. Basecamp is great for wider project management and includes a generous 60-day free trial.

4. Collaboration

Standard office packages have started to move to the cloud, increasing productivity by allowing employees to share documents and collaborate remotely.

Key technology: Office 365 is Microsoft Office in the cloud and includes improved and simplified file-sharing and collaboration tools. The package is especially useful for start-ups needing greater agility.

5. Reporting

Many small businesses need to produce reports but often these are too long and include no automatic data gathering.

Key technology: Trackpal is an inexpensive tool that allows reports to be automatically aggregated from analytics packages and other sources, taking most of the manual legwork out of reporting.

*Evernote Premium is exclusively available to all O2 customers for free. To redeem the one-year Evernote Premium account, upgrade via EverNote before 24 October 2014.

Articles are written by independent journalists and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of O2.

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