A lot of options
There are many advantages of using high-performance tools for small and medium-sized businesses. Saving time and increasing productivity are among them, but there are many other unknown possibilities that can help your business evolve and grow. In addition, some tools facilitate exchanges with customers, particularly through improving marketing, since it's easier to target customers and interact with them. Others enable positioning as a leader in an increasingly competitive market, better internal and external communication, or centralization of information. There are also tools that provide greater visibility into the performance of company processes, improve user experience and customer satisfaction, or optimize productivity. If a company decides not to follow the digital transformation trend, the risk of rapidly becoming obsolete is unfortunately very real.
A company's performance depends largely on the work of its employees. The digital tools they use must therefore enable them to become more efficient, so that they can concentrate on high value-added tasks, and foster attractive working conditions that will encourage them to stay.
There are several tools on the market to help service companies with their digital transformation. Here are the five we consider essential.
1. Collaborative suites
A collaborative suite is a package of linked applications and softwares provided by the same service, which facilitates teamwork through online information sharing, project management and effective, innovative communication tools. The suites are designed to enhance the productivity of collaborative work.
The best-known collaborative suite is undoubtedly Microsoft's Office, which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook, among others. But Google offers a highly competitive and much less expensive product for VSEs and SMEs in the service sector. The Google Workspace suite, formerly known as GSuite or Google Suite, provides intuitive, user-friendly functionalities and tools at a lower cost, such as Google Docs, Sheet, Slides, Gmail and much more. Tooly is a Google-certified reseller of the Google Workspace suite.
These suites enable e-mail, calendar and document management, as well as the creation of spreadsheets, forms and presentations. Chat and videoconferencing are also part of these groups of shared tool, which are essential for any service company wishing to get rid of embarrassing paperwork and start a digital transformation on the right foot.
2. Communication platforms
A communication platform is a solution or software that enables a team to work better together. Collaborators organize themselves around workgroups to better manage a project. Collaborative work platforms provide users with communication tools such as Microsoft's Teams solution. They also include editing and sharing tools. Professionals can exchange information directly on the platform. Documents are centralized, and each team member can consult company documents (e.g. reporting) and better track the work's progress.
The communication platform is a tool for harnessing collective intelligence by facilitating exchange between collaborators. When skills and knowledge are shared, the team achieves its objectives more quickly. It also helps to bring together values, documents, resources, the most effective IT tools and means of communication. For example, Microsoft Office SharePoint is a real solution for companies that want to democratize remote working.
Microsoft Teams is an online collaboration platform that enables users to communicate and work together in real time. It includes instant messaging, video and audio chat, and online storage to share files.
Trello is a visual project management platform that uses boards and cards to organize and track tasks. It lets users create to-do lists and assign them to team members, and also offers instant messaging and online storage.
Slack is an online communication platform that enables users to communicate via instant messaging and share files. It is often used by teams for internal communication and project collaboration.
3. The customer relationship management (CRM) system
Commonly known as CRM (Customer Relationship Management), this system contains all the tools and techniques designed to take into account the desires and expectations of customers and potential customers, by offering or proposing services to satisfy them and build loyalty.
The CRM system's computer applications are software packages that enable you to deal directly with the customer, whether in terms of sales, marketing or service. The CRM system enables all information to be stored in a centralized database and analyzed (behavior, engagement, etc.). It is the central point and pillar of a company's infrastructure, enabling interaction with many other systems and tools, including the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) softwares.
Among the CRM products available on the market today are Zoho CRM, Hubspot, ClickUp and SalesForce, just to name a few.
A CRM system of this kind increases sales, automates marketing campaigns, centralizes project management and consolidates data for a more global view.
4. Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software
An ERP or enterprise resource planning software is a resource management tool that enables companies to manage various aspects of their operations (finances, human resources, marketing, purchasing, distribution, etc.) in a consistent and integrated way.
Because it can be integrated with the customer relationship management system, the ERP helps the company to operate efficiently and in a flexible way by eliminating elements that can duplicate effort or create process gaps. It also eliminates the difficulties associated with the use of different IT systems by different company teams.
A company with an ERP system will be freed from certain tasks and will benefit from numerous possibilities for process automation.
Microsoft Dynamics, Quickbooks Desktop and Zoho One are ERP systems currently used by some service companies.
The advantages offered by an ERP system are numerous, and the company owning such a system will benefit from improved resource planning, reduced production costs and increased productivity.
5. Project management software
The aim of a project management software is to make it easier to manage your projects and boost team performance. It's a versatile, collaborative tool that simplifies teamwork, encourages exchanges, facilitates task planning and optimizes everyone's working time.
This tool is indispensable to the project manager, enabling him to plan the major stages of his project, to have an overall view of all his projects, and to know quickly how the projects and the teams are progressing.
With a project management software, you can increase your chances of successfully completing your projects while meeting deadlines and staying within budget.
Zoho Project or ClickUp come to mind as project management tools available at reasonable cost, but there are also more expensive solutions that can be adapted to every type of company and project. The Atlassian suite, including Jira, Tempo and Trello, is a powerful and flexible tool for managing tasks related to all kinds of projects.
Project management softwares often have modules that enable them to interact with other softwares used in the company, including customer relationship management systems and enterprise resource planning softwares.
Increased presence on social networks
As a small business, your company needs to be visible in the sea of information that is the Internet. For a successful digital transformation, the above-mentioned tools will certainly be useful, but a company hidden under a heap of competitors with advanced technological potential will be unable to achieve its objectives and acquire new customers.
Thus, if you can't afford to invest in expensive softwares to keep up with the technological pace, focus on increasing your company's presence on key social networking channels such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. Publish information regularly, add photos and create activities to reach as many people as possible and make yourself known.
This visibility is all the more important for service companies whose work is visual, such as gardening and landscaping, interior design, construction, etc.
Contact us to find out how we can help you to be visible on the Web and support you in your digital transformation.