Collaborative tools to drive productivity

For modern businesses, the ability to work and collaborate remotely — anytime, anywhere — and facilitate productivity is the key to surviving and thriving. We look at taking your business online and how it can support productivity company-wide.

COVID-19 has accelerated the adoption of digital technologies in businesses — small, local, and large. However, it's not a new phenomenon. We've embraced technology in our personal lives and seen how the right technology, implemented effectively, can drive productivity and efficiency.

Bringing digital technology into your business is easier than ever. Even if your team is working remotely, you can upgrade systems, streamline processes, and provide training. With the right tools in place, you'll be empowered to drive productivity, foster collaboration, and improve communication.

A case for technology in the business

Let's set the scene. You're working on a report that requires input from various business areas — you require financial data, sales numbers, and information on your people position, and you need it reviewed.

In a world without technology, you would go to each department, collate the information, and review individually. With productivity tools — for example, Microsoft 365 — you can manage the whole process online. Shared documents allow your team to input data and work and edit collaboratively, while chat and web conferencing enable you to communicate seamlessly.

Plus, they support external operations too. They provide seamless ways to interact and engage with customers, suppliers, and partners and create, store, and share documents. Some offer tools that can help you to refine operations — for example, project management, collecting feedback, or other — with everything stored in one easy-to-access place.

Technology in action

The great thing is that technology talks; you can share your business data or information across different systems. Microsoft Excel is a great example. It's an office staple that is often used by businesses to store and organize data. Its features and formulas can help you make sense of business, inventory, and financial data, to spot trends, and track outcomes.

Excel is an excellent way of storing and maintaining prospects' and customers' contact information. This data can easily be managed and even segmented for different projects or marketing campaigns. For example, you can do a mail merge to let your customers know about a new promotion or a change in operations. You can also import spreadsheets to platforms such as Mailchimp if you are running a campaign there.

Excel is perfect for accounting and even inventory management. We've yet to encounter an accounting professional who doesn't use Excel at some point in their process. It's used to create balance sheets, financial statements, budgets, and financial forecasting and monitor company expenses and invoices. Those clever features and formulas are built for this!

While there are plenty of applications designed to support inventory management — Good Inventory Pro from Microsoft, or point of sale apps such as Shopify or Vend — Excel is a reliable and affordable option. Albeit hands-on, it's a great option if you're a start-up or a small business.

A new way to use Excel

For so many businesses, the data stored in Microsoft Excel is invaluable. However, if you're short on time and need insights on the go, what you want are the key metrics from your spreadsheets. Excel can now be connected to your 9Spokes business Tracker to provide personalized insights on areas such as inventory.

Connecting Excel brings the data you maintain in your Excel spreadsheets into your business Tracker for a view of valuable metrics such as stock on hand, average spend per sale, and average items per sale, as well as your product performance.

Set up is simple; all you need to do is connect Excel to your dashboard.

Final word

Technology has become an intrinsic part of our personal and our work lives. The benefits are manifold.

As a small business, you don't need to invest heavily in a new IT infrastructure. There are many great business apps built to drive efficiency and smart productivity tools designed to support collaboration across your business – no matter what size.

The adage goes, 'Work smarter, not harder.' Technology can help you unlock your business' potential.