There are Enterprise Resource Planning systems that help manage huge global corporations and small business management software that are easier to deploy and use.

Small business management software can be a suite of programs for office work or specialized packages such as accounting, inventory management, fleet management or point of sale software. There are also industry specific business applications such as school management and retail management software.

How do Business Software Help Businesses?

Speeding up business processes is one major way that software helps businesses. For example, word processing has transformed the speed of creating, editing, storing and retrieving business documents. Just think of the typewriter days when any significant revisions would have involved retyping the whole document, and of the cumbersome practice of using carbon paper to create multiple copies of a document (some of which might never be used, resulting in wastage of paper).

With a typical office suite these days, you can do several things. You can create documents on demand, do elaborate computations, develop fantastic sales presentations and manage large databases storing information about customers, orders, sales and other business transactions.

Functional applications extended the advantages of using a computer to cover more business processes. Business accounting software, for example, not only speeds up the accounting process but also improves the quality of accounting, budgeting and reporting. It was now possible to generate elaborate analytical reports that would have simply been impracticable to compile using handwritten processes.

All the major key result areas benefited from the use of specialized management software. Inventory management software helped keep track of stock levels of all inventory items and monitoring them against minimum, maximum and re-order levels, for example. Manufacturing software enabled managers to have a clear picture of the up-to-date status of operations on the factory shop floor at all times. Scheduling software enabled them to develop shift working schedules based on complex criteria in a manner that did not overburden any worker.

While project management software helped project managers execute projects within allowed times and costs, asset management software helped protect physical assets of the business. Compliance with complex government regulations was another area where business software helped.

Web Applications add a new Dimension

Web applications such as e-mail and instant messaging transformed the communication scenario. Web sites and e-commerce enabled even small businesses with limited resources to trade globally. Internet telephony reduced the costs of long-distance calling to almost local calling levels.

And now cloud computing is making the large outlays involved in hardware and software purchases unnecessary. Instead, businesses can work with applications on the Web, paying only for what they use, and even store their data on Web servers. In addition to lowering costs, cloud computing also made it possible to access data from anywhere in the world.

Smaller pieces of software such as those that improved the ease and effectiveness of time management and calendaring helped individual workers to achieve.higher levels of productivity. Business contact management software can boost sales and customer satisfaction as maintaining customer contacts becomes a much more fail-proof affair.

Business management software and the Internet have completely transformed the way businesses are managed. They have sped up, enhanced the quality and extended the reach of business operations.

As a chartered accountant with business management qualifications and decades of exposure to business in senior to top level positions, Gopinathan helps small to medium businesses with new business start-up, business performance improvement and marketing. He uses structured business modelling techniques to help with all these, and has launched a business support website to provide the help in a convenient manner irrespective of geographical distances and boundaries.