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Business Management Software

Business Management software brings together applications for accounting, contact management, customer relationship management, enterprise resource planning and human resources into a single suite. Business software solutions combine the capabilities of multiple software products in one application, simplifying training and deployment while being used by small and midsize companies. Find the best business management system for your organisation in Australia.

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Business Management Software Buyers Guide

Introduction

Business management software is the name given to all-purpose software solutions. These typically bring together many key business management activities related to areas like accounting, sales, marketing, customer relationship management (CRM), human resources (HR), enterprise resource planning, product development, and contact management into a single, consistent package. The all-in-one nature of these solutions can be beneficial for business owners in terms of convenience, allowing various tasks to be carried out in one place. Additionally, the use of a single system for carrying out so many different functions can also help business managers to avoid issues surrounding compatibility, which may otherwise manifest when using multiple different software solutions to achieve the same tasks.

As the name suggests, business management software systems are primarily utilised by business managers, or departmental managers, in order to carry out some of their core responsibilities. These solutions can be especially useful within small and medium-sized enterprises, where there may be a need to keep software costs low and also limit the amount of training that needs to be provided for employees using different software packages. With that being said, business management software packages can also be valuable for managers in larger organisations too, and the comprehensive, integrated nature of these solutions can appeal to managers of all varieties.

When using software packages in this category, it will usually be possible to store contact details, past communication, and other important information about leads and customers. It may also be possible to monitor financial performance and create financial reports, store and manage important data related to employees and business partners, and establish performance metrics for a business, with the ability to continuously track these metrics over time. All of this means that many of the most critical tasks a business manager will need to perform can be handled easily without switching to a different package.

As stated, there is significant crossover between this type of business software and applications like CRM software and accounting software solutions. However, some of the other applications that are closely related to all-in-one business software packages include task management software and project management software. While the precise features that are available will vary from one program to the next, depending on their target audience and focus areas, there are certain core features too. Generally, this will mean any good software of this kind will allow users to:

  • Create and maintain a database containing contact details, customer data, and employee information
  • Track a company's financial results, create financial reports, and manage company finances
  • Define the parameters for business success and then continually track overall business performance
  • Oversee marketing activities, develop a marketing strategy, and monitor marketing performance over time

What is business management software?

Business management software packages are a type of business software intended to bring together single-suite applications related to accounting, human resources, customer relationship management, resource management, marketing, sales, business performance monitoring, and other disciplines that fall under the business management umbrella. The primary appeal of the software is its comprehensive nature, allowing many different tasks to be performed from a single location while removing friction associated with using multiple more targeted packages instead.

Although all-in-one business software has near-universal appeal, it can be especially useful for smaller businesses, or those looking to cut costs, because it means fewer unique applications need to be used, and the associated training costs can also be reduced. Some products are marketed as small business management software solutions, and these will be optimised to cater for the primary needs of managers of small and medium-sized enterprises.

Business software solutions of this kind allow users to keep contact information in one place, manage their interactions with customers, oversee a marketing strategy, manage company finances, create relevant business reports, and much more. As the different components of business management software packages are linked, it is also quick and easy to take data from one part of the package and bring it into another part without encountering compatibility issues.

What are the benefits of business management software?

The benefits of business software solutions are primarily linked to the convenience and efficiency they can deliver as an all-in-one solution. Lowering the number of unique applications that businesses and their employees need access to can have a number of key benefits, too, including reducing storage requirements, solving compatibility issues, and cutting down on training costs. Some of the most significant advantages are outlined in more detail below:

  • Improved efficiency: one of the main advantages of using business software solutions is related to its ability to improve overall efficiency for business managers and other senior leaders. This is primarily possible because the software provides a number of different functions within one package, avoiding the need to shift between packages to carry out these different tasks. Instead, business managers can quickly and easily move between managing their marketing strategy, viewing customer relationship management data, accessing employee contact information, and more. The end result can be greater productivity among business and departmental managers, who can then spend more of their time carrying out other tasks that may require extra attention.
  • Greater ease of use: alongside efficiency benefits, integrated business software of this kind also makes it easier to actually carry out many of the core business management tasks. Instead of having to understand the user interface of many different software packages and learn how to make the best use of them, these software packages provide a greater level of consistency. This means that, in many cases, it will be easier to learn to use a business management system than it is to learn to use separate marketing, CRM, employee management, and sales systems.
  • Reduced training costs: the use of a single integrated business software system in place of multiple different software packages can also help to reduce training costs. After all, the employees who need to use the software will learn to use one package rather than learning to use multiple different packages, which may all need to be taught to them at different times. This benefit also applies when new updates to the software are released and new features emerge, and it can be especially advantageous for businesses with a limited IT department or a restricted training budget. Reducing training times can also help to improve overall productivity levels.
  • Centralised data: the very concept of bringing together sales, marketing, customer relationship management, accounting, and other functions into a single place means that data from these different areas is also centralised. This can be important in many organisations because it means different departments can save, access, and alter data from the same place and then share it with other departments easily. Such cross-departmental sharing of data is necessary for high-quality collaboration, and having this data in one software package also makes it easier to move important information from one part of the package to another without encountering obstacles.

What are the features of business management software?

The features of business management software systems can vary substantially from one software package to the next. Some solutions are aimed at businesses in a specific industry, while others are targeted towards businesses of a certain size or business managers with a specific range of skills. Nevertheless, there are some core features within this software category that help define it, which will be found in the majority of applications of this kind.

  • Employee management: manage a wide range of elements related to employees, from tracking the progress of the various tasks they are working on or accessing contact details, through to continually monitoring productivity, attendance, training or coaching requirements, and contract and salary information. Having access to this data in a central location can make it easier to understand where employees are, what they are doing, how they are progressing, when certain actions are required, and when meetings may need to be arranged to discuss work-related issues. It can also assist businesses with scheduling and accurately handling staff pay, as well as the allocation of employee resources to different tasks. Essentially, these features all combine to allow the business management software to perform functions that may otherwise require the use of a workforce management software package.
  • Financial management: oversee a business' various financial assets and gain a much clearer sense of the overall financial status of the business. As part of this feature, it is generally possible to input financial information, track financial performance, plan new measures, create financial reports, and see the financial consequences of certain actions, events, or scenarios before they are actually performed. This can then allow for more informed, evidence-based decisions to be made about business strategy, the budgets for different departments, as well as pricing for specific products or services. Financial data can also be easily input into some of the other components of the software package too, such as the performance monitoring area, in order to gain a better idea of how the business is faring. Ultimately, these various features can either take the place of accounting software—or function alongside such applications—in order to provide a broader range of overall financial management features.
  • Customer relationship management: manage interactions with customers, save important communications, and ensure that long-term relationships are established and maintained so that those customers become long-term assets for the business. The CRM component of business management software will generally allow users to see past conversations with specific customers, access contact information, track the current status of leads and prospects, and guide them further down the sales funnel. Keeping track of customer interactions can be essential for a number of different reasons, including delivering seamless customer service, using interactions to inform product development and marketing efforts, and utilising customer communications to design relevant training activities. Failure to manage these interactions efficiently, on the other hand, can lead to the loss of customers.
  • Marketing management: establish a marketing strategy, gain insight into current performance, and automate key tasks so that the right audience is seeing the right content at the right moment. This component will often cater for email marketing, display marketing, social media marketing, content marketing, and SEO. Furthermore, solutions in this category will usually allow users to track how long campaigns have been running, the level of reach for each campaign, key performance indicators, and the current status of individual branding activities and product promotions. This can then reduce the need to use marketing automation software.
  • Inventory management: view important information about business inventory, such as current levels of stock for specific items, or the number of occupied and empty rooms in a hotel, so that all orders or bookings can be fulfilled accurately and on time. Moreover, past and current data can be used to forecast when more of an item needs to be ordered so that a business can avoid the delays and disappointment associated with running out of stock entirely. The best business management system examples will also offer real-time alerts on current stock levels, with options to establish the exact alert threshold, meaning managers can be automatically prompted to act when stock reaches a certain level. In some cases, re-ordering can also be automated. This means that new stock will be ordered at the best possible moment, without the need for any human intervention whatsoever.
  • Billing and invoicing: create invoices for the products or services that are purchased by customers, and then automatically send these invoices out via email. Business management software packages that include a billing and invoice component make it much easier to keep track of all relevant billing information, including details on whether or not a customer has paid, when their payment was made, what payment method they used, etc. Additionally, in some cases, the software will automatically generate a receipt, which can then be sent to customers to confirm that their payment has been received and to validate any refunds or returns they may request in future.
  • Performance metrics: identify the key metrics to monitor, and then continually track performance over time. This means users can see where their business is performing well, where there is room for improvement, and where drastic action may be required. Having the ability to establish key performance indicators and track them over time is important for understanding business performance in general, but it can also be essential for employee recognition. The very best business management software systems may be able to serve this purpose and avoid the need for dedicated recognition software.

Using Capterra's business management software systems directory, it is quick and easy to sort the available options based on the features they contain, along with their other attributes. Not only can this make it easier to compare the different business management system examples, but it also means users can narrow down options quickly and begin their search by only seeing the solutions that deliver in the areas that matter most to them and their business.

What should be considered when purchasing business management software?

When purchasing business management software systems, there are a number of important considerations that managers should work through. Taking the time to do this will help to avoid the purchase of an unsuitable or suboptimal solution, and it can help businesses to find the best possible application for their individual needs. One of the easiest ways to do this is to ask some key questions, which will then help decision-makers to think more deeply, such as:

  • How much does business software cost? A key consideration before making any purchase is the price that will need to be paid. Clearly, a small scale business management system is going to cost less than a bigger, more comprehensive solution that is aimed at large corporations, and this is a factor to weigh up, but it is not enough to simply think about the upfront costs like buying the software and installing it. Instead, the best way to approach this is to consider the total costs associated with owning and using the software over time. Is there a subscription fee? Will implementing the software require more space for storing data? Are there additional security needs? Will the various departmental managers need additional training to make effective use of the software? In some cases, there may also be costs linked to software updates, or new versions too.
  • What are the main types of business software? Answering this particular question can be important for several reasons. Firstly, it allows businesses to establish which applications they have and which they still need. Secondly, it allows decision-makers to consider the business management software packages that deliver in the areas they need. Thirdly, it is important to recognise that some options in this category are primarily focused on specific areas, such as finance, marketing, sales, or HR, while others are true all-purpose solutions. With this in mind, it is worth thinking about which of these approaches is most appropriate for the required tasks.
  • Where will the software users be working from? Next, decision-makers need to consider where managers and other users are actually going to be based and contemplate how this may influence the best choice of software. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of remote and hybrid working models, and research shows that 78% of staff say they’re just as (or more) productive at home. If remote access is a key requirement, this can have a major bearing on the ideal software solution. Of course, it is also worth contemplating how things may look in the future and what contingency plans are in place if circumstances make remote work a necessity.
  • Can the software integrate with other programs? Finally, when buying any new software solution, it is important to think about how well it can be integrated with other core applications that are being used within the workplace. The exact applications that business management software systems will need to be compatible with will vary based on the type of business making the purchase and the nature of the work they do. Nevertheless, compatibility problems can be costly and create unnecessary friction, so it pays to take the time to research this area properly. If integration is not possible, but the solution ticks all other boxes, it may be possible to make changes to a current setup, replacing some of the other software and tools used. However, any such decisions will need to consider the cost and upheaval associated with replacing existing applications or introducing new processes.

The most relevant business management program trends at the time of purchasing a new solution are also a very important consideration. After all, to get the most from software, it is crucial to find an option that will meet the needs of today and the needs of tomorrow. Additionally, buyers need to know that the software they are acquiring has been created with an awareness of the wider software and technology landscape, as well as the things that are important to users. Some of the most significant trends that are relevant to business management software systems include:

  • Popularity of cloud-based solutions: The Software as a Service (SaaS) model is becoming more prevalent as a whole. This is in part because businesses are getting to grips with the various benefits that cloud technology can offer them. This includes increased data security, accessibility from anywhere, at any time, compatibility with a wider range of devices and operating systems, and reduced startup and maintenance costs, which are generally replaced by more predictable monthly subscription fees. As this trend continues, business managers need to be aware of this broad direction of travel and give some careful thought to whether or not this method of deployment is best for them. In some cases, cloud-based solutions may sacrifice an element of control and a sense of ownership, and some businesses are still better off with on-site deployment, managed by an internal IT team. Yet, in other cases, these options deliver the kind of flexibility and on-demand access that is necessary in the modern, fast-paced, 24/7 business world, and allow businesses to scale down their IT departments and expenditure too.
  • Increased use of artificial intelligence: As artificial intelligence (AI) continues to improve in terms of reliability and speed, it is also playing an increasingly influential role in business management software systems. In particular, AI can help to interpret vast amounts of data extremely quickly and then draw logical conclusions from that data, meaning it has the potential to recommend future actions, based on the probability of success, and to suggest the best times to act in order to optimise business results. Beyond this, AI can also help to automate some of the more predictable, repetitive, and time-consuming business management activities, leaving managers and senior employees with more time to spend on tasks that really require human thought processes and problem-solving skills. When automation and data analytics are combined, an integrated business software system has the capacity to handle inventory management, distribution, marketing, and sales processes on its own, with high levels of accuracy, at any time of the day, even if no business manager is available to act themselves.
  • Mobile business management: Along with the rise in remote work, a growing number of business managers and senior employees are now working in the field, while they travel, or in a number of other ways that all require them to carry out tasks using mobile phones, tablets, or other similar portable devices. For software developers, catering to this demand for flexibility and mobile accessibility is becoming more important. Many solutions on the market already achieve this, either by offering dedicated mobile apps or by providing access to cloud-based software through mobile web browsers. Business managers regularly using mobile devices for work should prioritise software packages that cater to their needs and look into whether the mobile apps either provide a full range of features or serve as a condensed version of the main software, stripping out some of the core functions.