Apps – the buzz word of today. Mobile Apps, Web Apps, Enterprise Apps - there has been a lot of talk around apps as of late, and many small businesses (SMBs) today are having discussions around whether they need to implement or deploy apps in their business. The answer, quite simply, is yes!
What is an App? Simply put, apps are individual web applications that either enhance or enlarge the existing features of various software, and, when it applies to SMBs, these apps will typically assist them in solving specific problems; online payment processing, automated billing systems, customer relationship management, business intelligence, or human resources management are just a few examples of apps that might be used by SMBs.
Why should SMBs consider a customized app?
Apps are put in place to improve your organization’s competitiveness in an ever-increasingly competitive market by increasing efficiency and productivity and supporting scalability. Your Cloud-based, customized apps will reduce costs by turning CapEx into OpEx. Customized apps are also safer when it comes to cyberattacks. Here are four good reasons why SMBs should consider developing customized apps and why SharePoint (for Office 365) will provide the best platform for your apps.
Reason #1: Increased Efficiency & Productivity
When you create your own customized application (instead of purchasing an off-the-shelf application), you can design and build it to meet your specific business requirements. This will help to increase the efficiency and productivity of your team – the app is created specifically for your organization’s unique challenges, and can be developed to integrate seamlessly with your current software.
How SharePoint Can Help: If your organization uses SharePoint to create that customized app, you can easily connect with the other Office 365 productivity tools (like Outlook, Word, Excel, OneDrive and OneNote) that your team is already familiar with. If your SMB is already using SharePoint in any way, you can leverage the collaboration and workflow features of SharePoint that you already have in place. SharePoint apps have a similar development platform for the various devices that your employees might be using (mobile, tablet or computer), making it easy to create apps that function in various devices.
Why this Matters to SMB Sales: While there is a similar overall flow to the sales process, each company should be aware of their unique sales pipeline and the stages of their customer’s buying journey. When your sales process has been adapted to truly meet and reflect the needs of your customers, closing more deals becomes a reality. By implementing customized applications that work synergistically with your sales process, rather than a “one size fits all approach” to the technology used by Sales, there is an increase in efficiency and productivity – both crucial to growing sales.
Reason #2: Keeping the Costs Down by Turning CapEx in to OpEx
For SMBs, using Cloud-based apps and subscription-based services is a no-brainer because it allows SMBs to take advantage of the latest and greatest technology without incurring huge upfront costs. With particular regard to implementing customized apps, many SMBs have a misconception of it being too costly. Building Cloud-based apps is a cost-effective option for SMBs as it helps them manage budget more efficiently by turning CapEx in to OpEx and by reducing labour costs.
How SharePoint Can Help: If your customized apps or software are built using SharePoint Online, with Microsoft’s automatic updates of SharePoint Online, your organization won’t have to worry about the labour costs associated with keeping your SharePoint environment up-to-date. Plus, using SharePoint Online means that you won’t ever need to worry that a third-party app developer might go bankrupt or decide to no longer maintain that app, making your app completely useless. This will leave you searching for a last-minute (and often quite costly) solution.
Why this Matters to SMB Sales: When your business, and sales organization, is connected through an up-to-date application such as Sharepoint, access to the most current versions of critical content becomes much easier. Pricing guides, infographics, case studies, brochures and other marketing and informational material are important tools for your salespeople. Ensuring easy access not only to the material, but to the most up-to-date versions, is an easy way to impact the productivity and success of your salespeople. Rather than searching for an important piece for a client only to find later that it was saved on another employee’s hard drive, make it easy to access for all employees. This ease of access comes without increased labour costs, as mentioned above, making it a smart choice for business owners.
Reason #3: Improved Scalability
Your organization is using an accounting software to process your orders, a database to keep track of your clients and a content management system for your sales and marketing efforts. But they don’t talk to each other. So, you buy an off-the-shelf software that’s been marketed to be an all-in-one solution. As your team rapidly grows, you realize that the solution no longer fits your needs, and you need to purchase another solution to support your growth. Does this sound familiar?
While there are some off-the-shelf software products out there that are marketed to be all-in-one solution, it’s not easy to find the perfect solution that meet all your needs and support growth. Also, if you have busy seasons and relatively slow seasons throughout the year, you need to be able to easily scale up and down to stay productive.
How SharePoint Can Help: SharePoint Online has a low month-to-month subscription model that allows you to add and remove users at will. You no longer need to worry about the fluctuation of your workforce – adding, reassigning or removing licenses becomes easy. Similarly, as SharePoint Online is part of Office 365, scaling your data storage in the Cloud is just as easy – you pay for the storage you need, and adding more storage is easily accomplished through the Office 365 Admin Portal.
Why this Matters to SMB Sales: Scalability is important to SMB Sales. It allows your company to pivot as necessary to meet your current needs, whether you are experiencing a period of growth or if there has been a downturn in sales. Having the freedom to scale up or down your technological tools ensures that your sales organization remains agile and poised to capitalize on momentum when it comes. This ability to quickly scale up as needed can be an important aspect of sales success. For example, an organization that is landing deals but has determined that they are not managing campaigns diligently enough to properly use referrals for more prospects may choose to focus on that area by using custom functions to monitor their campaigns through linked calendars.
Reason #4: Security
A security breach is costly, with an average cost of $38,000 for SMBs (Source: Kaspersky Global IT Security Risks Survey, 2015). Did you know that most successful hacking attempts are the result of hackers going after the known vulnerabilities in familiar software? By using your own, customized software apps, you’re providing yourself with much better protection for your business from those external threats – which, unfortunately, are quite prevalent today.
How SharePoint Can Help: Using SharePoint, your organization can monitor who in your organization is accessing your files, but you can also grant external access to those outside of your organization when it’s needed. SharePoint also has built-in and Cloud-connected compliance, security and threat protection for your organization’s administrators and end users, providing you with enhanced data security and compliance, and giving you a better way to maintain control of the access to your data.
Why this Matters to SMB Sales: Security is just as important to Sales organizations, as they also need to be vigilant about the security of their data. Salespeople gather a lot of data during the sales process – client and financial information – and it is important to protect it. A crucial aspect of a good client relationship is trust, and ensuring that your company is protected, as well as your clients by association, is a part of the sales process that should not be neglected.
Don’t Know Where to Start? We Can Help!
Better security, improved scalability, cost savings and increased efficiency and productivity – four good reasons for you to consider building your own customized apps using SharePoint. Don’t know where to begin? For over 15 years, ProServeIT has assisted organizations with proper implementation of SharePoint Online and Office 365, and Change Connect is an expert in aligning Sales Best Practices with the implementation of complementary tech tools, ensuring that your organization is utilizing your technology for maximum sales effect. We’re here to help you! Contact us today for more information!
This blog post is co-authored by Change Connect and ProServeIT.
About Change Connect
Change Connect specializes in helping clients to work more efficiently and effectively in pursuit of their revenue goals. We offer customized solutions for small to midsized businesses with a focus on Sales Transformation, which includes adapting the sales process to new technologies such as Cloud Computing. Whatever stage your business is at, whether you’re a start-up looking to expand or an established company looking to move from a plateau to record growth, Change Connect is your partner in transformation.
About ProServeIT Corporation
ProServeIT Corporation (ProServeIT) specializes in a comprehensive focus on cloud computing, IT managed services, custom software development and technology consulting services that provides a competitive advantage to SMBs. ProServeIT was one of the first Canadian Microsoft partners to spearhead the adoption of Cloud Computing and have migrated over 200,000 users to the Cloud.