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Got a business issue? There's an app for that

Sara Howard
Smarter Writer

As a business owner and writer, Sara Howard has first-hand experience in marketing, cash flow management and technology

Sara Howard
Smarter Writer

As a business owner and writer, Sara Howard has first-hand experience in marketing, cash flow management and technology

Imagine a business world where contracts are signed in minutes, receipts are easily stored and staff can access product specs on their way to the next sales meeting. Sara Howard reports.

That’s the reality for an increasing number of businesses around Australia, as the adoption of mobile apps approaches a tipping point.

“Last year, we looked at how many of our customers were actually using connected tablets for business — beyond mail and calendar — and, in reality, it’s still quite small, just 10 per cent,” says Mark Chapman, Director of Business and Enterprise Mobility for Telstra Retail.

“If you’re a small business owner, talk to Telstra about your key business challenges and identify which mobile apps can best meet your business requirements while you’ve got time. If you don’t, your competitors will and they will use them to differentiate and win more market share.”

tablet network illustration

Managing and motivating teams

If your staff numbers are growing and you have teams working in multiple locations or on the road, you know how time-consuming it can be keeping track of rostering, job assignments and performance. You also understand how easily business can be lost if staff aren’t available to meet customer expectations.

Back in 2013, Forrester Research’s Forrsights Global Workforce Benchmark Survey reported that more than half the Australian and New Zealand workforce cannot do their jobs without a mobile device — mainly as it makes their everyday tasks easier and faster.

“We’re finding a lot of smaller businesses with a mobile workforce like community care providers and trade or construction are moving away from using whiteboards and Excel spreadsheets for job allocation and staff rostering to apps that allow them to manage these tasks in near real time — it helps give them greater control, flexibility and reduces double entry,” says Chapman.

These businesses are using apps such as Deputy to schedule staff and tasks, approve timesheets integrated into payroll, track performance and talk to teams. Less time spent on paperwork means more time on billable work. GeoOp is an app that helps simplify job management.

So how are businesses using apps to help drive efficiencies?

Some examples include:

  • Managing job allocation and staff rostering in the field or at multiple sites, when you can’t be everywhere at once and don’t have time to call around to see who is available
  • Improving turnaround time on contracts and providing a better customer experience using electronic signatures instead of paper
  • Having access to the right business information on the go such as pricing brochures, sales presentations or manuals with health and safety guidelines
  • Securely storing and sharing documents with staff and clients
  • Removing the dependence on paper processes by capturing information such as sales orders, audits, health and safety checks on tablets and sending to back office systems

Improve Customer Experience

Have you ever had a sale fall through because of the time lag between agreement and getting multiple signatures on the contract? It’s certainly frustrating.

That’s why many businesses are getting deals signed quickly with DocuSign. It has become a great way for digital contract signing and it’s safe, secure and can be legally binding for many documents. 

“We use DocuSign for issuing contracts to customers,” says Aaron Parris, National Financial Services Industry Lead for Telstra. It is also a huge productivity gain for lawyers and businesses dealing with many contracts.”

Note: Before using DocuSign for your situation, you’ll need to make sure you can do so in accordance with the Electronic Transactions Act 1999 (Cth) and any applicable state or territory laws and regulations.

Help Get Invoices Under Control

The productivity benefits of using online accounting software such as Xero™ or MYOB are well known. Given cashflow is one of the biggest issues for small businesses, getting real-time visibility of your accounts and forecasts and automating bank reconciliation can all make a big difference to the survival and growth of your business.

Shoeboxed can help with this. The subscription-based service allows you to use your compatible mobile or tablet to scan and organise all your invoices and receipts. Financial records are extracted and verified locally then converted into data that goes straight to Xero, MYOB or other compatible accounting software. Best of all, it creates a searchable database that helps make your accountant or ATO queries much simpler to manage.

The Shoeboxed app also includes a distance tracker, making the management of travel expenses and tax returns a breeze. Smart business owners are also using it to convert business cards into digital files, ready to import into Salesforce or LinkedIn, and store important documents such as warranties or insurance policies for business products purchased.

Watch our video:

See how business apps help plumber Todd Fiedler save time and money here.

Find out moreWatch our video:

The Right Information At The Right Time

Is your business still working with paper-based processes?  According to Telstra’s research, as many as 75 per cent of small businesses still rely heavily on paper-based tools and it’s costing them an extra $608 million a year in paper alone.

Paper-based processes also increase the risk of mistakes and cost time spent searching for the latest version of a document or redesigning and reprinting product guides.

“The real opportunity is how apps can reduce costs and increase productivity,” explains Charlie Macdonald, Manufacturing, Transport and Logistics Industry Executive at Telstra. “Everything used to be expensive. Now with apps like Canvas, you can quickly and cost-effectively remove paper processes.”

If you have a mobile workforce in multiple locations, Zunos makes it easy to engage, train and push content and notifications to them, improve team productivity by accessing relevant information on the go and report to back office in near real time.

For file storage and sharing, Aaron Parris is impressed by Box’s functionality for securely storing work documents such as job sheets, project sheets, specs and pricing and always making the latest version available.

“As an alternative to a dedicated server, it provides a lot of storage — but it also gives you more control. It’s great for confidential documents and great for collaborative projects because everything syncs up,” he says.

Help future-proof your app strategy with Telstra

If you’re flat out running and growing your business, investigating the potential of mobile apps may not seem like the most productive use of your time. So it makes sense to seek advice first.

“You wouldn’t put a business plan in place without consulting an accountant or financial planner,” says Chapman. “It’s the same with your mobile applications strategy. Because it’s not simply a case of saying, ‘will this app work for us?’ You need to look at the business problem first and work out how mobility could transform your business.”

That means looking at every aspect from platform, hardware and operating cost per user to accessibility, security, speed and, ultimately, total cost for your business.

Telstra can bring all your mobile services together, including apps, on one bill, which includes your hardware, plan costs and professional services costs. That means one provider and one point of contact.

Telstra has invested in more mobile coverage sites across city and country (>8000) than any other Australian mobile network so you can enjoy greater and more reliable mobile coverage with fewer dead spots.

So get ready to become productive fast and feel confident that you’re unlocking the full benefits of mobility by helping to make your workflow simpler and smarter.

Check out:

These apps and more from Telstra here.

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