A small and midsize business (SMB) is a business which, due to its size, has different requirements—and often faces different challenges—than large enterprises. The attribute used most often is the number of employees of the business — small businesses are usually defined as organizations with fewer than 100 employees; midsize enterprises are those organizations with 100 to 999 employees.

Using Office 365 in Your Small Business: 8 Little-Known Features You’ll Love

Microsoft Office 365 has quickly become one of the go-to office suites for small business, and it’s no wonder: Office 365 is a powerful suite of software that’s simple to use. Whether you’re new to Office 365, or just interested in ideas and features of Office 365 that can help improve your productivity and teamwork, here are 8 little-known features of Office 365 that your business is going to love: Office 365 Co-Authoring: Are you tired of working on a document, only to go back and edit it but find you’re locked out until somebody else’s edits are complete? Office 365 allows everyone edit a document at the same time in Word, PowerPoint or Excel. While they’re editing, you can see the changes in real-time, as well as who is doing the editing. Forget the pain of emailing attachments and waiting. You can approve or reject the edits as soon as they’re made, too. Chat Via Skype: While you’re poring over those edits, you may find a mistake or something that needs clarification, but it requires a more detailed explanation than another edit line. Instead of picking up the phone, just click the “Chat” button to begin chatting with everyone working in the document over Skype. Even if you close the document, you can still talk with everyone involved on the project. Managers love this feature – it leaves the management to them, not the “micromanagement”. Forget Attachments, Just Send Links: When you’re working with a ton of documents, spoofing by a bad actor that’s looking to phish information from your company is common in the internet security world. Every day thousands of these spoofing emails go out worldwide, and sometimes a tired executive or two will inevitably click them. The solution to this? Make your workplace an attachment-free zone. This way, your workers can assume any email with a document attached is a spoof. Use the cloud version of Outlook (the Outlook Web App) and link to the file on your cloud. Once you’ve made this a business practice, you’ll have strengthened internet security and have a protocol in place for all of your documents. (You can also set individual security settings for all of these documents, too.) Turn Your Notes Into Calendar Items: Microsoft’s note-taking tool, OneNote, is easily used inside of Microsoft Outlook. Using the OneNote, you can create a to-do list that can convert into deadlines and reminders on your calendar. Using OneNote, you can also automatically add calendar meeting details such as date, location, time, schedule and attendees, to your notes. You can even then use OneNote to email the meeting notes to your attendees — kind of like an electronic secretary. Teach Your Inbox to Sort Your Email: You’re a small business, so you don’t run a mail room, but your Outlook email can end up in disarray if you don’t use Microsoft’s Clutter tool. If you use Outlook 2016 for Windows, “Clutter” will help you filter low-priority email, saving time for your most […]

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6 Benefits of Integrating Your Dynamics CRM With QuickBooks

Customer relationship management software (CRM) helps you convert your contacts, improving your marketing, sales, and retention efforts in the process. Accounting software allows you to keep your finances in order, gaining both quick overview and in-depth knowledge about your revenues, expenses, and more. At first sight, the only thing these two types of software have in common is the fact that they improve business processes in some shape. Accounting and marketing, you might think, does not often overlap. But in reality, integrating both processes comes with a variety of advantages for your business. In fact, here are 6 benefits you can gain from integrating your Dynamics CRM with QuickBooks. 1. Enhancing Customer Profiles and Information Whether or not you already use a CRM to enhance your sales and marketing efforts, you know about the value of information. During their buyers’ journey, your audience receives more than 100 emails every day. Your only chance to stand out is with a message that is both relevant and targeted exactly to your audience. The same truth holds for the sales call. If you simply call sales-qualified leads with a blanket statement, they’re much less likely to become customers than they would if you approached them with a sales pitch tailored to their needs. By integrating your accounting software with your CRM, you can solve both of these problems. For existing customers, you can draw on financial information and order history to make a more relevant marketing and/or sales pitch. Considering the ROI of customer retention, this added information could be the difference in helping your business grow. 2. Avoiding Duplication for Increased Data Integrity When your Dynamics CRM and QuickBooks accounting software run separately, you almost necessarily risk data duplication. Two identical records will have to be maintained for the same customer. That, in turn, can compromise your data integrity, as duplicate updates are not always intuitive or easily followed. Through a CRM and accounting software integration, you can solve that problem. QuickBooks and Dynamics, for example, allow users to promote and link customer profiles on both platforms, making sure the information always remains in sync. The result is not just less required data entry, but greater accuracy and integrity. 3. Understanding Accounting Data in the Context of Your Customers Much of your accounting data will provide valuable insights into the health and success of your business. But do you know what that data actually means for individual customers? If you do, you can draw conclusions that help you improve your marketing, sales, and financial processes. Imagine, for example, running a report that shows you the average revenue created by one of your marketing automation campaigns. Alternatively, compare multiple campaigns or sales efforts in light of their actual costs. Adding customer context to your accounting data gives you a much fuller (and more accurate) pictures not just of your business health, but the reasons for that health and growth. 4. Syncing Price Lists and Inventory for Integrated Sales Information As part of your accounting […]

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S.M.A.R.T. Goals Make For Successful Projects

SMART Goals Lead to Project Success

Many people fail in life, not for lack of ability or brains or even courage but simply because they have never organized their energies around a goal. — Elbert Hubbard Elbert Hubbard was a man who knew how to set a goal and achieve it. He was one of the most successful traveling salesmen of his time and, due to that success, was able to become a renowned and prolific writer, publisher, philosopher, and artist. His ability to organize his energy around a goal enabled him to reach significant heights. But as he showed, it’s not just about having initiative or having a passion for a achieving a goal or even working hard. It’s about working smart — S.M.A.R.T. to be precise. What Is S.M.A.R.T.? The mnemonic acronym S.M.A.R.T. began to appear in the early 1980s and is often tied to the Management by Objectives concept that was developed by Peter Drucker. At its core, S.M.A.R.T. is a process for creating goals and monitoring their achievement progress. It is lauded by many as the most effective way of forming goals so that they are simple to understand and easy to see when they have been successfully completed. When it comes to setting goals for more technical or transformative projects, having a clear cut game plan is necessary. For example, if a company decides to implement a customer relationship management system, it is essential that the integration of the system goes smoothly and as planned. Disruption in customer interaction and experience can cause serious customer loss and can be incredibly detrimental to the company’s reputation. Using S.M.A.R.T. to create the process for achieving that goal will enable the company to flesh out what is required for completion and when completion can be expected. When an individual or organization is developing a goal, and using the S.M.A.R.T. method, they simply form the goal around the five tenets of the system. Each letter in the acronym stands for one of the tenets. S Is For Specific The goal that is being set should be specific, clear, and simple. This means it should likely include relevant dates, times, numbers, names, locations and whatever other fixed information is pertinent–in other words, the why, what and how of your goal. It should not be vague or open to interpretation in any way. The goal should not be: To implement a customer relationship management system. The goal should be: To have customer relationship management up and running by May of 2017 with full staff training completed. M Is For Measurable/Meaningful Your goal shouldn’t be layered behind fluffy words that are difficult to quantify. The reason for this is that you want tangible evidence that you’ve accomplished the goal. So not only should you include a completion date, but what it will look like when the goal is completed. The goal should also mean something to everyone who is going to be involved in accomplishing it. If there’s no passion behind working towards something, the likelihood that it gets done at […]

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Microsoft Office 365: The Multi-tool for Small Business

At work, the way we communicate is changing. Because more employees telecommuting and flex-timing, interoperability and seamless communication are becoming more important to each company’s success. Recent improvements to and availability of mobile technology and cloud-based managed services are providing the infrastructure needed to fuel this transformation, making employee remote collaboration possible. Familiarity + Usability = Better User Experience Currently, 1.2 billion daily users all over the world are using MSOffice, Outlook, Skype, Yammer, and OneDrive to communicate, collaborate, and get things done for work. One reason for the popularity is the importance that Microsoft places on user experience. Recently, the commitment they made to creating a person-centric IT is becoming more evident. While maintaining the familiar MS Office branding, they have updated their interface to simplify the usability and create more engagement. Microsoft Office 365 has built in all of the tools necessary for the modern workplace, while providing new users with a familiar interface and low-cost training for easy onboarding. MS Office 365 could be the key differentiator for businesses seeking to improve productivity, streamline operations, and promote opportunities for real-time collaboration. Real-time Co-authoring to Streamline Projects In this global and increasingly mobile work environment, in-person collaboration is less and less possible. When information or content needs to be shared, and feedback needed immediately, the real-time, multichannel communication offered by MS Office 365, is crucial. The feature, which has been available to MS Office users for several years, has been upgraded to include all of Office 365, OneDrive, and Skype users. The access to each other and the exact working document is truly the closest approximation to real in-person collaboration. Thanks to MS Office 365, it is no longer required to wait days or even hours for revisions, and it virtually eliminates miscommunication, which is a boon to the efficiency and productivity of your small business. Communication Interoperability The newest version of the cloud-based MS Office is built for collaboration. These tools offer any company —regardless of size, an optimal workplace experience. Whether in-house or on-the-go, your employees are able to effortlessly communicate with each other. Since all of the content created is kept in the cloud, sharing with co-workers is a breeze. This capability extends to shared calendars, a feature which is integral to collaboration and makes the functionality and reliability offered by Microsoft Office 365 integration attractive. Yammer, where the workplace meets social media is another option for content sharing. The social media-style platform designed for sharing and communicating makes it a fun addition to traditional interoffice communication methods. Outlook’s Massive Storage Because it is entirely cloud based, Office 365’s mail product, Outlook is perfect for use with mobile devices. Users receive 50GB of storage and it allows sending attachments as large as 150MB. Fully integrated with all of the other Office 365 tools and applications, Outlook can be accessed from any application or program, or through the main single portal interface. Single Portal Interface From this single portal interface users can sign-on to multiple applications, send mail, […]

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How Business Process Automation Can Benefit Small and Medium Businesses

As your business grows, business process automation (BPA) becomes increasingly important. While it’s relatively simple to manually manage and enter your business processes as they occur with just a few customers, the same cannot be said for a growing business managing an increasing number of both customers and processes. The key, then, is finding a software solution that allows you to automate the process. Keep reading to learn how business process automation can benefit both small and medium-sized businesses, along with the functions a reliable system should include to maximize these benefits. 6 Undeniable Benefits of Business Process Automation 1. Increased efficiency Naturally, automating your business processes will increase the efficiency with which you can run your business. If you know that a number of essential functions will be taken care of in the background, you can focus your attention on marketing and other activities that help to grow your business. As this collection of case studies shows, BPA consistently increased efficiency for businesses who embrace the concept. Everyday tasks require less human touches, which can be better focused elsewhere. 2. Reduced Labor and Time Commitment Automating your business processes will take time initially. But after the transition, it will save both the labor and the time (and, ultimately, your budget) required for these tasks. If, for example, you decide to automate your sales flow from lead to customer, your marketing and sales team can spend their time focusing on actual customer outreach instead of having to calculate lead qualifications to determine which contacts they should reach out to. 3. Customer-Centric Advantages Ultimately, thanks to the above shift in priorities, BPA helps improve your ability to reach out and interact with your customers. That, in turn, will result in greater satisfaction by your audience, who will appreciate a more personal approach that is customized to their needs. 4. Cross-Departmental Benefits Too often, BPA software like a Customer Relationship Management solution is viewed with limited scope. It is ultimately a sales tool, helping you automate and personalize your outreach. But in reality, a number of other department and areas within your business can benefit as well. Marketing automation, for example, reduces the need to send emails to new and existing leads. Software like Microsoft Dynamics CRM can also help you track HR processes, collect and sort documents, and manage orders from your suppliers. In short, it can benefit a number of departments within your growing business. 5. Consistency When relying on manual business processes, consistency is almost impossible. Each employee will work on and complete these processes a little different from the other, making it difficult to come up with a set of universal rules and guidelines that apply to everyone in the process. With BPA, that problem doesn’t exist. Every aspect of the automated process is identical to the ones preceding and following it. If you set up a singular lead scoring process, for example, each lead will be evaluated for its sales-readiness in the exact same way. Compare that to manual lead scoring, in which inexact […]

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