Technology is not always the busy business owners’ best friend: it can be expensive, hard to use, and time consuming. Luckily, technology isn’t just built for savvy gadget gurus; a lot of it can work for you, not against you. If you want to continue improving your productivity, website, and even safety culture, there are plenty of tech tools that can help you along the way.
If you want to Boost Productivity and Streamline Communications
Project Management Software
Quality project management software takes some of the pain out of planning, scheduling, and keeping track of resources. It can also be a solution to common blunders like missed deadlines or lack of communication across teams and individuals.
There are tons of options for project management software, all ranging in price, complexity, and ease of use.
A simple tool like Trello is easy to use and offers a good amount of flexibility. In a nutshell, you make lists of your processes, and create tasks to move through it – both of which are completely customizable. You can comment, attach files, assign tasks to people in your team, and color code to your heart’s content. It’s simple, but it works. We have found tools like this help us stay organized in our day-to-day department operations. It’s free for basic functionality, so that’s certainly a plus.
For more complex projects you might want to consider something a little more robust, like Microsoft Project. It has tools built in for planning, scheduling, and reporting.
There can be a pretty steep learning curve for software like this, so you may need to hire or train someone to implement its use.
Choosing project management software really depends on what you need – at present and in the future. If you are looking to grow your business, starting out with a scalable solution is a great choice.
Cloud-based Document Sharing
To this day, we still occasionally find ourselves saving word documents with our initials at the end of file names to signal we actually reviewed and approved something. It can get a little messy.
There is a much easier way to collaborate with your team.
Using cloud-based document sharing, you can upload documents to be shared across departments, offices, or literally anywhere else for a reasonable price… sometimes even free.
Google Drive is a great choice for a lot of business owners that want to start using the cloud. You can edit, create, and securely store word documents and spreadsheets right in your Google account. When collaborating on a project, it’s easy to see who last opened and edited documents. Especially if you already use Google for business, using their cloud is a really solid choice.
Dropbox is another well-known sharing service. It’s super secure and trusted by businesses around the world – and it doesn’t have a hefty price tag. With the business version, you get unlimited storage space, file and version recovery, and powerful collaboration tools, making sure you don’t miss a beat with important documents.
The convenience factor of laptops and tablets is unmatched, especially with so many options on the market right now.
Almost all of TriMedia runs around with laptops. A lot of it has to do with the nature of our work: as consultants we never know where we are going to be working tomorrow, let alone next month. Laptops give us the flexibility to work remotely while still having the power to accomplish everything we need to.
Tablets come in serious handy if you do site inspections, regularly hold client meetings, or travel frequently. With the right software and equipment integrations, tablets can even be calibrated to collect and transmit data from external monitoring or surveillance tools.
If you want to Go Paperless
It might sound silly, but honestly – it works. Having a desk scanner nearby can quickly reduce or eliminate document clutter. As soon as you’re done with something handwritten, scan it in and save it to the appropriate location on your server or cloud. File the hard copy away or shred, and voila! Clean desk. Doxie has some great compact units to choose from.
If you want a Better Website
Content Management System
These days, websites are one of your most important marketing tools. If you plan on growing your business, your site better be up to snuff.
If you are struggling to keep a website updated or depend on a webmaster, switching over to a content management system is a must. It allows someone with absolutely no programming or coding experience to have control over the content on their website, whether that’s just keeping an “about us” page updated or posting press releases on a “news” page.
Our website is powered by WordPress. There are also other options such as Wix and Squarespace with tools that allow you to easily design a website from scratch.
If you want to know Everything About your Facility
Geospatial Information System (GIS)
We wrote a whole blog post about this recently, so we won’t bore you with the details. Basically, we use an indoor GIS to map out all the assets in our newly renovated headquarters; right down individual lightbulb serial numbers.
We can attach a number of important data to the GIS, such as reminders to perform fire extinguisher inspections. We also mapped out every data and phone port, highly useful for our IT manager who works out of our lower Michigan office.
With a GIS, we have important location data at our fingertips – and you don’t have to be a GIS expert to navigate it. For more information about how we set ours up, read about it in GIS for Facility Management, Part II.
If you want to Improve Regulatory Compliance and Safety
Safety apps for iPhones and Androids are becoming increasingly popular. There are a couple of notable ones, like NIOSH’s Ladder Safety app and the FallSafety app. Integrations with wearables like the Apple Watch make safety apps practical, easily accessible, and fun to use.
For crews working outside, knowing the weather is critical for safety and productivity. Luckily, knowing what’s coming our way is as simple as downloading a weather app and checking out hourly forecasts and the radar. A lot of local news stations have iPhone and Android apps to supplement the ones that come pre-loaded on your phone.
Learning Management System
The majority of our team maintains important health and safety certifications in order to remain compliant with standard regulations for working on sensitive job sites. Any EHS or Safety manager knows it can be nightmarish to keep track of all the certifications and renewal dates for each individual employee. A learning management system (LMS) takes care of all of that for us. We can house our trainings, record quiz results, set up reminders for renewals, and store all of our certifications accessible anywhere anytime.
What are you favorite tech tools?