4 Best Project Management Tools for Construction Companies

construction-companies

Most projects for construction companies are carried out on a massive scale and demand that a large number of tasks be completed with the use of the appropriate management abilities.
Thus, it’s recommended to get your workflow digitized from the get-go.

Some of the essential procedures are part of a construction project: accurate cost assessment, proposal creation, designing, approval, communication, scheduling, and time tracking for payrolls, etc.

Completing each of these steps will require a significant investment of your time and expertise.

A program for managing construction projects may give all the capabilities to speed up these operations significantly, make them easier to work with, and improve their overall efficiency. 

As a result, the procedure will take less time, which will result in increased profitability.

We know it is important for smaller construction companies to have software that’s both budget-friendly and effective, so we’ll be looking at both.
Doing your research and investing in what’s right for your current business needs and budget will save you time and money in the long run, and you can always upgrade later!

In short, good software for managing construction projects has the following 3 key features:

  • Availability on a mobile app.
  • Document management (plans, pictures, contracts, and bids).
  • Usability (so your team can navigate through it with ease).

So, what are some of the best software for construction companies?

Agendrix

construction-companies

The Agendrix construction schedule software is the most affordable, yet fully-professional and optimal option out there. It comes with everything from scheduling to integration to real-time communication for your company. Managers use it to track and organize their employees through multiple sites as if they’re all in one place.

You can create and monitor tasks, connect files and photos, and allocate resources. Use your calendar to keep tabs on schedules, timesheets, and time off. 

On top of the basics, Agendrix offers effortless communication between team members, time-punching linked to timesheets, finding geolocations, tracking overtime work, etc. All this information goes straight to your phone as a notification.
Naturally, you can test out the software for free for 14 days, and then choose between the Essential plan that is $2.75 per user monthly or the Pro plan that will cost you $4 per user on a monthly basis.

Pros:

  • Risk-free trial
  • Overtime and off-time tracking
  • Users have unrestricted real-time messaging
  • Keeps track of tasks and employees across all sites
  • Suitable for small, medium, and large businesses
  • Extremely affordable

Cons:

  • Can be a bit tricky for employee availability input
  • No master employee schedule per job position

JOBPROGRESS

Multiple features and tools are brought together in one place in JOBPROGRESS to simplify construction project management.

Staff duties, client appointments, and project progress reports may all be generated by users.

In addition to offering infinite storage for documents, images, and other material, it integrates with several different applications, including QuickBooks, Google tools, and ZenDesk. 

There is a lack of accounting connectivity with QB, and while accountancy and task management software can sync invoices, it is necessary to enter the P&L manually.

There are no free trials or plans for JOBPROGRESS, although building firms with few users may afford to utilize it. An account manager will help you set the program for your company for $500. The monthly charge for each user is $55, and there are no tiers.

Pros:

  • Reasonable monthly cost
  • Photo and document storage is unlimited
  • Automated emails and processes for mobile apps
  • Proposal, development, and budget monitoring
  • Management of tasks and work
  • Invoicing
  • Contract Builder Template

Cons:

  • There are no free trials available
  • The app’s integration capabilities are restricted

Contractor Foreman

Since it is cloud-based, you can use Contractor Foreman on any device connected to the internet and the Contractor Foreman app. 

In terms of simplicity of use, Contractor Foreman is a standout. Thanks to its straightforward design, you can quickly locate tasks, documents, customer information, bills, and punch lists.

For one month, you can have access to all of the capabilities, which will allow you to evaluate whether or not they are suitable for your business. Contractor Foreman charges a consistent amount every month for membership. However, customers can only have a restricted number of users until they reach the highest membership tier, at which point they may have an unlimited number of users.

Pros:

  • A free trial is available
  • The monthly fee is not dependent on the number of users.
  • Easy to use Unlimited endeavors
  • Capacity is limitless.
  • Billing is included.
  • Work, purchase order administration, and customized reporting
  • Change order management, RFIs
  • Management of punch lists
  • Management of bids and submissions

Cons:

  • Accounting integrations are only available in the most expensive subscriptions
  • The standard plan does not have a client portal

Houzz Professional

construction-companies

Houzz Pro is a hybrid project management application. It produces leads for small contractors or subcontractors looking for specific assignments like home upgrades.

The cloud-based solution enables you to engage with your team and customers for more transparency. You can create proposals using templates or from scratch, establish a schedule, so consumers know when to expect a final product, and provide estimates and invoices. You may track project progress in real time and adjust to-do lists.

Although there is a free trial and several of Houzz Pro’s significant capabilities are free, the premium service costs $399 per month. If you don’t require marketing or advertising capabilities, the mid-tier subscription, which usually costs $99 per month, is reduced to $49 for the first three months.

Pros:

  • A free trial is available
  • Low-cost alternatives
  • Tools for advertising
  • CRM encompasses spatial planning in both 2D and 3D
  • Controlling a project or set of tasks
  • Collaboration in real time between the client and the company
  • Invoicing and payments for bids and estimates are all made online

Cons:

  • In most cases, users are subject to limitations
  • Ratings are low
  • It may be tough to cancel a subscription

Summing it up on construction companies

Some construction management software is better suited for big general contractors with several projects, customers, and subcontractors, while others are more suited for smaller, specialized construction companies.

Contractor project management software must provide access, document control, and simplicity. Efficiency and a reduction in the amount of time required to do a job are the key benefits. 

When selecting any business software, keep these factors in mind, and you’ll always be in step with the latest and most useful tools on the market.

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A Quick Guide to Small Business Tax Exemptions

tax-exemptions

The management of finances is crucial in business. Tax is one aspect of financial management that you shouldn’t overlook. Knowing the tax exemptions you qualify for as a small business is essential for you since they may benefit your revenue.

There are several legal ways for a business to lower its tax liability. Depending on the state, these techniques could be different. So, the best way to take advantage of these tax exemptions may require you to conduct your research. However, it would be best if you worked with a competent tax expert or financial counselor who could assist you with filing your taxes from the beginning.

To help you further, below is a brief overview of small business tax exemptions.

What Small Businesses Need

tax-exemptions

Before you enjoy the benefit of tax exemption for your small business, you must first ensure that you have the following:  

  • A Sound Bookkeeping System  

Every business needs an accounting system that tracks and records all income and expenditure. When filing taxes, your accountant will require detailed accounting records. You risk breaking compliance laws if your records are inaccurate. Additionally, you must ensure that your accounts abide by all other Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulations. A bookkeeping system will assist you with this.

  • Receipts Documenting Expenses

With tax exemptions, you must keep all your expense receipts. Your accountant will thank you later for keeping these receipts because they’re vital. Additionally, note that certain expenses need more than just receipts. For example, you may need to keep track of mileage to support your deduction for auto expenses.

  • 501c3 (For non-profit organizations)

If you run a non-profit organization, you must submit a 501c3 application to the IRS to be granted tax-exempt status. As a result, the non-profit organization will qualify for a federal exemption from paying corporate taxes. Contributions made to that entity, however, are still tax-deductible. Therefore, you need to keep detailed records of your transactions.

Creating a non-profit entity is typically time-consuming due to the documentation required. Nevertheless, if you are a non-profit organization, submit a 501C3 application as soon as possible. But sending it directly to the IRS might be time-consuming. Therefore, outsourcing a company to do it for you may be a good option.

Common Small Business Tax Deductions or Tax Exemptions

Below are the expenses in your small business that can be included in tax exemptions. Read on to find out.

  • Utilities

All utilities used for your small business are entirely deductible. That holds true for your water, power, phone, garbage, and other utility bills. The cost of the initial landline, however, is not deductible if you have a home office. However, the subsequent ones will be deductible.  

  • Insurance Expense

You must have insurance if you are in business. Depending on the industry you’re in, your company can get a variety of insurance policies. As a result, most organizations will invariably obtain business insurance.

It is worth noting that the cost of the founder’s or owner’s health insurance is all entirely deductible. In addition, things like property insurance, malpractice insurance, business interruption insurance, and auto insurance are also deductible. Also, note that small enterprises may be eligible for a tax credit of up to 50% for health insurance under the qualifying small employer health reimbursement arrangement (QSEHRA). If you own a small business, see if you can also qualify for this.

  • Vehicle Expenses

If you use a car for business, remember that car expenses are deductible. You must track mileage and provide business records to support your claim that the vehicle was used for business purposes. Additionally, you must split the costs according to mileage if you use the car for both personal and business purposes.

  • Equipment Rent and Depreciation Costs

Any costs associated with renting or leasing machinery, or equipment are entirely deductible. It holds true for items like vehicles, copiers, and printers. Additionally, you can deduct the cost of depreciating your company’s machinery and equipment. However, you must spread out depreciation charges over a long period. To learn how to do this properly, you might need to consult the Internal Revenue Code section 179.

  • Business Property Rent

You may deduct the rent or lease payments if you are renting a property for a business. However, sometimes you may qualify for an exemption if you manage your business from home. Therefore, you must take eligibility tests to determine your eligibility. Mortgage interest, insurance, utilities, and depreciation are deductible house expenses. For more details, consult IRS Publication 587.

  • Software Subscription Costs

It’s often the case that, nowadays, most businesses are using some software to run their business processes. If you have any software, you can deduct the cost of buying that software.

  • Entertainment and Event Costs   

If you’re considering or planning to hold corporate events or entertain clients, remember that most of these expenses are tax-deductible. Generally, meals are only 50% deductible. However, any meals served at a work party or event are fully tax-deductible. Just keep your receipts secure and consider saving them in your bookkeeping system.

  • Travel Expenses

You may consider writing off your travel expenses if you travel frequently. The IRS states that you must travel for a period greater than a complete workday for your business costs to qualify for travel expenses. This category of deductibles includes airfare, cab fare, and hotel costs.

  • Contracting Costs

tax-exemptions

The expenses you spend on hiring contractual labor are entirely deductible, so keep that in mind. However, if you pay a contractor USD$600 or more in a tax year, you must send them a MISC-1099 form. The payment processor should also issue a 1099-K if you use alternative payment methods like credit cards.

  • Legal and Professional Fees

Businesses frequently work with lawyers and other specialists to help them with various business tasks. You should know that the fees for hiring a lawyer, accountant, or tax advisor are fully deductible.

  • Employee Salaries

Employee salaries are often fully deductible for most small enterprises. It includes commissions and bonuses as well. However, this exemption will not apply to LLC members, partners, or sole proprietors. The reason for this is that they aren’t regarded as corporate employees.   

  • Employee Gifts

Giving corporate gifts to staff is an excellent way to motivate and thank them. Consequently, some businesses have made giving gifts a part of their company culture. It’s particularly essential today because some businesses have made remote working the standard. Nevertheless, keep in mind that team member gifts can be deducted up to USD$25 per team member annually.   

Conclusion on Tax Exemptions

Tax exemptions allow small business owners to optimize their cash flow. So, it would be best to have an excellent financial advisor who can help you take advantage of all the possible exemptions you can get depending on your business location. Also, ensure a sound bookkeeping system because you’ll need receipts when filing for these exemptions.

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How Location Analysis Will Transform Retail Businesses?

retail-businesses

Location based analysis in action for retail businesses

Technological changes cannot be foreseen, especially for industries like retail businesses. While once things were slow for them, online stores came into the picture and pushed the envelope on how we perceive the retail sector. With tough competition, there has never been more need for marketing methods and strategies that combine analytical data, like location analysis.

As more businesses make themselves mobile—friendly, it has become easier for companies to create a treasure trove of data where they can observe their consumers’ behavior. For example, companies can gather data about where our consumers live, where they go, what they need, and what are their likes and dislikes. The data collected can be tough to grapple with, but retail location analytics breaks down the data into insights that can be profitable to the retailers. 

What are location analytics?

retail-businesses

Location analytics is the process of collecting data and insights from the location/geographic component of business data. All the collected data is laid out in a geographical information system. The insights from the data can be beneficial for businesses as they help understand their audiences based on their geographical location. Through targeted information, they can increase their sales and customer retention capabilities.

In the context of big data and other data models, location analytics can help retailers gain more insights while foreseeing the trends in the marketplace. The demand for location—based analytics keeps increasing as businesses aim to provide their customers with the best experience. It becomes easier when you have data from their earlier preferences. 

Transformations in retail businesses

Analysis and data collection have enabled the retail industry to take a new approach toward their customers. A significant transformation in the industry has to be concerning personalization. All businesses now aim to provide a unique in—person experience to their customer at their store, online or offline.

The three radical changes that have changed the functionality of businesses are:

  1. Higher expectations play a vital role in the operation of businesses. Each retailer has to set a new bar in how they offer their products and services to the customer. As a result, the customer’s experience should be far better than what their competitors could provide. This is because customers with higher expectations will shift to another retailer if the experience is not up to the mark.
  2. Stores are now operating both online and offline. There is no stringent standard of how the retail business should work. Both online and offline stores have their share of benefits, neither of which makes them better than the other. 
  3. Personalized experiences are here to stay. The retailer knows each customer’s preferences, likes, and dislikes based on their purchase history. This enables them to offer services that appeal to their mindset. 

What challenges in retail businesses does location analytics address?

Location analytics uses the power of highly accurate location—based data to unlock previously—stored insights. It works by realizing that location can be a common denominator in the vast pool of business information. As a result, the data can help retailers address their most significant challenges and other roadblocks using the right analytical tools.

  • Improve Return on Investment (ROI)

Retailers constantly need to invest in their products, services, and customers to remain at the top of their game. In times of economic difficulties, it is crucial to make suitable investments. Location analytics can help retailers know where and how to invest by testing investment plans, thereby reducing risks after implementation.

  • Increase sales

The changing or reduced patterns in customer spending make it difficult for retailers where their sales will come from. Location analytics can help businesses understand the psychology of their customers, especially their preferred products and services. In addition, the analyzed data can help in building marketing strategies that effectively target specific customers.

  • Control costs

Retailers need to be aware of all the ways through which they can protect their profits. Cost analysis throughout the company isn’t enough, but location—based analysis can bring confidential data to light. A centralized location—based analytics system helps in:

  • Get more details of costs and expenditures at various levels of the organization. For example, you can get in—depth information about the financial status in manufacturing information, logistics data, supply chain, and other records. 
  • Data can help you flag issues before they become a costly affair. Retailers can set benchmarks to measure and control stringently going forward. 

 

  • Boost customer satisfaction

Keeping customers happy is the primary objective of any retailer. Despite the budget, the customer experience keeps customers returning to a retailer even after a competitor provides better services. In addition, data analytics can help understand existing issues in the system and determine methods to tackle them.

  • Enhance customer loyalty

On the monetary side, it is easier to keep existing customers than sourcing new ones. This is why customer loyalty is on the top agenda for retailers. For this, customer segmentation is effective and is why location—based analytics is popular today. 

Where can location-based analytics be applied to retail businesses?

retail-businesses

The five top use cases for applying location intelligence in the retail industry are:

  • Retail site selection

The advancement in location—based intelligence has helped the retail industry to develop in the previous decade. The earlier analysis could be done by physically surveilling a place for days and months and collecting the needed data. For example, counting the number of visitors during certain hours, the cars in the parking lot, and the number of carts coming in and out of the store for needed data.

With advanced location intelligence data, retailers can create dynamic map visualizations that determine the population and demographic groupings. Additionally, by adding the competitors’ locations in the mix, one can get an idea about the potential profitably of a specific site. Demographics can help in creating the best experiences for the target audience.

  • Better merchandising

Retailers can use location—based analytical data to serve the customer better in an area. For example, retailers can get an idea about the people living near their store and provide products that connect with their needs. Additionally, retailers can advertise their products in publications and media outlets catering to the same audience.

For example, if a grocery owner learns that many Indians live nearby, it is an excellent opportunity to get food items that Indians are familiar with. Advertising on media outlets and posting updates on social media can make the information pass on to the target audience at hand.

  • Targeted advertising

Location—based advertising is another opportunity for retailers to increase their revenue. A food outlet store that provides free delivery can advertise to people who have busy schedules and hardly have time to visit the store or to senior citizens and physically challenged people who cannot travel to the store. It can be presented as a push notification to their mobile phone and delivered through a third—party application installed on the mobile device.

  • Customer experience

Location analytics helps retailers to link their customer’s online experience with their brick—and—mortar stores. Connecting website visits and browsing history to the person’s physical presence at the store, retailers can understand the spending habits and needs of the person. It also helps link incomplete or fragmented data like the email address by associating it with the digital marketing activities of the customer.

  • Performance management

Retailers can use location—based data to set performance benchmarks for individual stores in specific areas. Setting targets for the fiscal year becomes easier once the last year’s performance is taken into hindsight. Furthermore, with location intelligence, retailers get a clearer view of each location’s true profit—making potential. 

Leveraging location analysis in the retail industry

The factor that restrained location analysis from being applied in the global retail industry was the computational power required to make data work in real-time. But as more companies adopt more analytical tools, it has become affordable for businesses of all shapes and sizes. As a result, accepting location intelligence is the most promising way for retailers to enhance customer engagement and increase overall sales. 

By B Naomi Grace

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Why A Tax Consultant Is Crucial to Business Growth

For any company, the bottom line will always be making profits and growing their business. In most cases, entrepreneurs are to blame for the lack of business growth in some way. Some business owners prefer to handle all operations on their own because they’re afraid that workers will deliver subpar results if they do. However, this isn’t a good idea. Hiring a tax consultant is, however, a good idea.

It’s advisable to seek assistance with the business aspects you aren’t good at, as you focus on those you can do exemplarily well. As you seek assistance, you can eliminate the fear of substandard work by working with a highly-qualified team in their areas of specialization. 

One of the services you can consider outsourcing is taxation. For example, if your company is based in Pennsylvania and you’re looking for an accountant Philadelphia-based, you can lift the burden off your in-house accounting team. 

Read on to find out why hiring a tax consultant is the ideal way to achieve business growth.

Increased Productivity

A tax consultant will handle everything regarding taxes for your company. Your team can go about their daily operations that contribute to your bottom line. This increases productivity, allowing you to meet your customers’ needs efficiently and on time.

On the other hand, filing taxes is often a lengthy process. You must recollect all your transactions for the said tax period, balance your accounting books, and prepare financial statements. 

These documents reveal the amount of income you’ve earned for the period, which determines how much you’ll pay as taxes. Consolidating all this data can take a week or so for your accounting team. During this period, your team will barely execute their daily operations that bring in returns, reducing productivity. 

However, with the help of a tax consultant, you can better serve your customers. As a result, your customers will be more likely to recommend you to their family and friends. In turn, their friends and family members will eventually become your customers as well.

Business Focus with a Tax Consultant

tax-consultant

Having a tax consultant gives you more time to focus on your business’s core operations. These core operations are what bring in returns that allow you to grow.

For most business owners, the tax period is often hectic. It’s said that most owners are always in a panic since a small mishap could result in hefty fines. All they want is to be done with the file taxing.

Although most owners don’t single-handedly file their business taxes, they still worry since their business is at stake. All this stress tends to drive their focus away from the company’s core operations. This isn’t ideal and can lead to losses.

However, by seeking the services of a tax consultant, most of the stress is reduced. They’ll handle all your tax needs from the first stage to the last one. Since they’re experts in the process, you’ll be less worried about the process.

Reduced Costs

It’s said that costs form part of the cornerstone of any business. Most business owners have mastered the art of cost reduction, while others are aiming at minimizing costs to the bare minimum. Significantly, a tax consultant can help you reduce your expenses regarding taxes.

A tax consultant will assess your business operations and see if you’re liable for any tax deductions. Suppose you deal with medical supplies. In that case, most states will exempt you from tax payments, or you’ll get a deduction on the amount payable. With fewer payments, you’ll avail more money to fund your core operations, such as production, leading to growth

Furthermore, they’re in a position to negotiate your tax payments. For most businesses, and depending on the state, the law might require you to write a proposal of the amount you think you should pay. The necessary committee will assess this and might approve. Should they disapprove, they’ll tell you the tax amount to pay. 

This is where the tax consultant will assist you in reducing the amount payable as tax. Their expertise in the field will help them get you the best deal. Hence, you’ll end up paying fewer taxes, increasing the amount you can reinvest in your business for growth.

Better Financial Handling

tax-consultant

Finances tend to be tricky for most businesses, especially if you lack the know-how. You might think you’ve been doing your math right, only for an expert to render it basic and inefficient for your business. A tax consultant can help figure out the issues of your financial planning.

As stated herein, you must go through your financial records to arrive at the final taxable amount. A tax consultant can do this for you. In the process, they’ll identify issues with your bookkeeping that could lead to errors and inefficiencies in your business. Most consultants will inform you of this and advise you on how best to handle your finances. 

With this advice, you’ll better plan and handle your business money, eliminating errors. Errors are one of the contributors to business failure. Consequently, an error when calculating your business cash flow could show that you have more money than you actually have. 

As a result, you might end up spending money you think you have, leading to debts. Bad debts will make you struggle financially, reducing the possibility of business growth until you clear them. In extreme cases, you might go bankrupt, which isn’t ideal.

Better Compliance

A tax consultant will help you comply accordingly with the tax laws. They’ll start by ensuring you’re filing in the right tax bracket. Knowing your tax bracket will help you know the laws surrounding the said bracket you need to adhere to.

Meanwhile, like most endeavors, there are tax laws that govern the taxation process. These laws depict the amount of tax you should pay depending on your source of income, your obligations as a taxpayer, etc. 

Failure to adhere to the said laws might lead to fines and penalties, jail terms, or business closure. However, it’s good to note that tax laws differ from state to state. Hence, it’s best to familiarize yourself with those that apply in your state.

Nevertheless, the thing about tax laws is that they’re barely constant. They keep changing, and you might miss changes and updates to the system. This means you’re likely to end up being non-compliant. A tax consultant can change that. 

When it comes to providing tax services to businesses and individuals, a tax consultant must be aware of any changes in the tax laws. It’s the only way they’ll meet their clients’ needs better. Therefore, there are very minimal chances of you being non-compliant.

If you’re in compliance with tax laws, you won’t have to pay the fines and penalties that cut into your profits and slow down your company’s growth. You also won’t face business closure. Moreover, your business will have the opportunity to expand to even greater heights.

Conclusion on Hiring a Tax Consultant

Business growth is of the essence to many owners. Many entrepreneurs find growth as a measure of success. This article has shown how hiring a tax consultant will lead to your company’s growth. If you haven’t tried outsourcing your tax operations yet, now is the time. Otherwise, you’re likely to miss out on the benefits discussed herein.

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Automated Dropshipping – Is It Possible to Put Your Business on Autopilot?

automated-dropshipping

Dropshipping can be defined as a way through which merchants fulfill orders in the eCommerce business whereby, they outsource the processing orders and inventory to another party. Automated dropshipping can prove to be a valuable tool to your business.

This is a tedious process that consumes a lot of time and requires the merchants to remain alert all the time for the successful running of their businesses. Fortunately, it has been made easier by technology and automation.

Through automated dropshipping, you can use technologies and tools to run all the processes in the business on autopilot. This streamlines the processes and saves a lot of time. It also gives you enough time to focus on other aspects of your business. But how can you run your dropshipping business on autopilot?

Order Processing with Suppliers for Automated Dropshipping

Order processing is one of the most important things in the dropshipping business. You, therefore, need to take advantage of dropshipping automation software to handle this process for you.

These software applications make sure that orders are automatically routed to your suppliers immediately after a customer makes an order. The supplier gets information with regards to the customer and order details for them to release the order without any issues.

Some of these applications are even smarter than you might think. If you have multiple suppliers, they will evaluate them based on availability before routing the order to one of them. This puts your business on autopilot since you do not have to do anything.

Inventory Control

Imagine a customer placing an order for an item only for you to realize later that that particular item is not available. This would translate to poor eCommerce customer service, something that can end up hurting your business.

When putting your business on autopilot, you should make sure that you are using tools that keep an accurate inventory of the products in your store. This will help you avoid issues with overstocking and out-of-stock products.

The right dropshipping software application should come with inventory feeds from your suppliers. This shows the levels of stock for each of the suppliers. This way, you will control your inventory automatically, making it easy to put your business on autopilot.

Use Automated Tools

automated-dropshipping

The first step into setting your business on autopilot is of course building, customizing, and launching your business and then choosing an automated dropshipping software application. You then need to select the processes that you need to automate.

There are many options available for you using these software applications. The first important one is the ability to upload your products and their information from your suppliers automatically.

Imagine having to upload hundreds of products manually. This would consume a lot of time and the chances of errors would be very high. With these software applications, you can put your business on autopilot and make sure that you have products for display all the time.

Price Optimization

When adding products to your store, you do not have to set prices for all of the products on your own. Even when uploading products automatically as discussed above, do you have to go back and optimize the product prizes manually?

Well, when putting your dropshipping business on autopilot, you can use automation tools to automate price optimization and syncing. They allow you to set rules for your pricing strategy. These rules will be used to automatically set prices for your products.

When doing this, you should make sure that the rules you set are going to make you profits. It would be a challenge for you to sell products at a price that would drive you out of business. You also need to set the right price that cannot drive customers away.

Order Tracking helps achieve Automated Dropshipping

Order tracking is very important when it comes to improving the experience of your customers. You need to make sure that your customers have a way of finding where their products are without having to call you or the shipping company.

Fortunately, you can use dropshipping automation software to automate the process of tracking orders. This allows your customers to easily see where the product is, something that is important in gaining customer trust in eCommerce.

The software should also update you automatically when there is a problem with the delivery of a certain order. This way, you can contact your customers before they even notice the problem and explain to them that there will be a delay in the delivery of their product.

Setting your dropshipping business on autopilot is one of the best things you can do today. You will let technology handle most of the processes for you while you concentrate on other aspects of the business such as marketing.

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Why and How Should You Digitize Workflows?

If you work in manufacturing, you’re probably no stranger to the phrase “digital transformation.” To digitize workflows isn’t an easy task, but it can be done.

For many companies, this means deploying manufacturing workflow software and hardware that helps employees gather and act on data so that the entire set up is a few clicks automated.

But what does it mean for your manufacturing workflows?

In this post, we’ll look at why and how you should digitize workflows, starting with a brief definition of what a workflow is. We’ll discuss some of the key benefits of digitizing your manufacturing workflows, plus a few things to keep in mind as you begin to execute on this important project. 

Why digitize workflows?

There are a number of reasons why manufacturers should digitize their workflows. First, it will help them increase productivity, efficiency, visibility and collaboration among the employees. Secondly, it will reduce errors in the workplace which can lead to increased costs for the company in terms of time spent on fixing those errors. 

It also helps increase employee engagement and satisfaction leading to higher retention rates among your workforce. This means that there will be more experienced people working at your company because they’ve stayed longer than they would have without digitizing their processes! 

Which areas of workflow should be digitized? 

One of the hottest topics in business is the rise of robotics and automation. In fact, some predict that in as soon as ten years, more than one-third of today’s jobs will be performed by robots and other automated technology. 

But which areas should be digitized that can make your workflow fully automated? Here they are: 

  • Accounting and finance for payment processing. The company automatically recognizes transactions and routes them to appropriate accounts payable departments. 
  • Employee onboarding. Efficiently register new employees from any web-enabled device, including smartwatches and home devices. The platform captures employee data into a central database where it is accessible across the organization in real-time. 
  • Customer service claims processing. Integrated intelligence curates internal services and external vendors to provide a single point of contact for clients.  

Digital workflows can eliminate mundane, repetitive tasks by securely automating workflows and business processes. It reduces errors, saves time and money, ensures employee compliance, and provides real-time visibility into daily operations.  

If you are thinking of expanding your business among competitors, a digitized workflow offers solutions that allow you to expand your workforce or reduce staff while increasing productivity and accuracy. 

How do you actually digitize workflows? 

digitize-workflows

1) Set goals and requirements

The first step is to set goals before digitizing manufacturing workflows and implement technologies to areas where improvement is immediately needed.  

A goal is what you are trying to achieve with digitized manufacturing workflows. It may be to achieve better efficiency, cost savings, improved quality and more customer loyalty. Goals should be measurable and specific enough so that there’s an expectation that they can be achieved in a reasonable timeframe. 

2) Identify the stakeholders

The next step is to identify the stakeholders. Stakeholders usually include product managers, engineers, IT staff and business analysts. You should also consider other people who are involved in the manufacturing process, such as customers or consumers. 

For each stakeholder you identified in your first step (the primary one being ‘yourself’), you need to answer the following questions: 

  • Who are they? 
  • What is their role? 
  • What are their responsibilities? 
  • What are their goals and requirements? 

3) Create a holistic plan

In addition to the technical aspects of implementing different systems in a way that works for your business needs, it’s also important to understand their business processes as well as how they fit together with one another.  

You want integration between these systems so you can see all of your data in one place instead of having multiple disconnected sets of information stored separately—which means that you may need some assistance from an experienced consultant or partner when building out this part of your strategy. 

4) Look for the right platform and tools

Aside from looking into the right automation tool, you should also consider the platform that is going to serve as your foundation. This is where you will store all of your workflows, robots, and other resources. You need to choose a system that has good scalability and flexibility so it can grow with your business. 

The right platform should have features like: 

  • A robust list of available APIs for third-party integration with other systems. 
  • Easy-to-use drag-and-drop user interface (UI); and 
  • Data visualization tools such as dashboards or charts that provide valuable insights from machine learning data. 

How can a software or tool digitize workflows?

The technology is still new and under development, so it’s important to try it out as soon as possible 

There are multiple ways to go about implementing the technical solution, and there’s tons of valuable information and expert opinions on the tech being developed. 

You could benefit from digitizing your own manufacturing workflows since there’s a chance you’d be able to increase revenue, reduce costs, improve client relations, cut waiting time for clients, and more. 

There are manufacturing workflow transformation tools and platforms available for you to digitize your manufacturing workflows. These tools can help you digitize your manufacturing workflows without coding or software. 

These tools and platforms can help you digitize your manufacturing workflows without great efforts. 

Conclusion

The promise of digital transformation calls for a new way of thinking. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the manufacturing industry, where the old ways are rapidly fading into obsolescence. But as companies embrace digital transformation, they will find that their businesses can be healthier and more vital than ever before.

Overall, the benefits of a digital manufacturing process cannot be overstated. Companies that go digital for their manufacturing activities are more likely to meet their production needs and improve customer service, while reducing costs and increasing profits.

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Why Electronic Security Is Essential to Business

Many businesses and organizations are keen on protecting their digital assets since cyber-attacks become more rampant as technology develops. In a parallel context, offices and stores also need to impose security measures to elevate their physical security even more. Property crimes still happen, and any business with loose security measures is always an easy target for criminals and thieves. If you have a commercial establishment that you need to protect, investing in an integrated electronic security system is the best way to go. Aside from protecting your assets from external threats, you can also prevent internal theft and suspicious activities. Your equipment, software, trade secrets, data, and other assets can easily be stolen or copied if you don’t displace the suitable security systems inside the office. 

Because of the reasons stated below, it makes sense to invest in electronic security measures: 

  • Asset Protection

When it comes to operating a business, too many assets require protection. Having one of them stolen would mean a loss for your business. No matter how big or small the value is, it still transcends to business loss. Hence, it’s worth investing in electronic security provided by a reputable security company in your area. 

An electronic security system is among the easiest and most effective preventive measures to safeguard your personal and business assets. You can thwart any suspicious internal or external person from trying to steal your tools, equipment, money, and other valuables in the office. When they see that your office or establishment is heavily guarded, they will be discouraged from even attempting to steal anything.  

  • Cost Savings with Electronic Security

electronic-security

You may initially feel burdened to invest in security systems, but when you compute its overall value and benefits, you’ll realize that it’s worth every penny. You can prevent any loss by purchasing a customized security system for your company. Protecting your valuables and ensuring that they won’t be compromised will equate to money savings in the long run. 

You can imagine the money you might lose if you fail to display surveillance cameras and alarm systems in your office, and finally, your expensive equipment got stolen. All those things are worth thousands of dollars which are far more costly than the hundreds of dollars you invest in electronic security systems. Further, better protection measures can result in lower insurance premiums since your business may be considered low risk.  

Also, when you have the right electronic security products displaced all over your premises, you can monitor everything and be able to control complaints, accusations, and threats. Because of the security records, you’ll have proof and basis on actual events. This can translate to cost savings when a customer or staff complains or accuse your company of something that didn’t happen in reality.   

  • Safety For High-Risk Areas

Your establishment has high-risk areas where many thieves and other criminals might be attracted. This can be the cashier, entryway, or back office where data and valuables are stored. In order to ensure their security, you can take advantage of electronic security systems like surveillance cameras and alarm systems. Audio, video systems, fire alarms, and other security products ensure that these high-risk areas are secure and safe from any element. 

Because of the warnings and notifications, your security staff or any authorized personnel can react immediately in case of emergencies. Life-saving measures can be taken directly when cameras are placed in risk-prone areas. If you have some hallways and alleys that are dark and poorly lit, it’s best to displace some security systems there. The key is to look around your building and see which are easy targets for criminals and which places are prone to accidents or hazards.

  • Reduced Internal Theft

As much as you want to protect your assets from external people, you need to do the same internally. While your employees are trustworthy and have been in the company for many years now, it’s still hard to trust them completely. With no cameras around, who knows what malicious acts they’re doing?  

By displacing electronic security measures, you can keep an eye on what they do and how they perform. You can even monitor whether they’re productive or just lazing around doing mediocre tasks. CCTV security systems can report what your employees are up to. This is even more important if your employees handle money and other precious resources in the company. Knowing that their acts are being recorded will make them more vigilant and careful not to do anything wrong.  

  • For Peace of Mind

As a business owner, you already have a lot on your mind. Worrying about business security is definitely not helping. When you invest in electronic security systems, you can rest easy knowing that your properties and business are safe and secure from any threat. 

You don’t have to micromanage everything by yourself as activities can be recorded. You can review what happened to your business while you’re away. These technologies can allow you to spend more time relaxing or doing other tasks without worrying about anything. You can even take more extended vacations because you know your staff won’t do anything fishy since security cameras are recording every act they do.  

  • Increased Safety for Employees

electronic-security

Another reason why security systems are critical is because of your employees. You’re responsible for ensuring they are safe from any danger and crimes. It’s the company’s obligation to install cameras and security systems to prevent dangerous people from doing malicious acts to your employees. Whatever happens, events will be recorded and easily reported to the authorities when you have the right security products.

Having a safer workplace will make your employees feel more at ease, especially when they need to work overtime. This translates to employee morale and satisfaction. 

By installing a modern security system at your establishment, your employees will feel more secure and able to concentrate on their work without having to worry about their safety. You can customize systems as service providers generally offer scalable solutions. Security systems ensure that employees are safe while at work. They can perform and focus on their tasks better because they’re in a safe zone while working late.

  • Electronic Security Can Be Customized According to Company Needs

As mentioned, security systems are customizable and scalable. You can choose the most suitable electronic security products depending on your preferences and business needs. From CCTV cameras to alarm systems, you can modify them according to your business. All these can be requested from your provider or vendor. They can also work within your budget and suggest the best brand or product that fits your financial capacity.  

Conclusion on Electronic Security

There are many tips to promote business growth, but you should never compromise business security. Criminals are becoming increasingly innovative and creative, so a single alarm system cannot keep your business safe. As a business owner or manager, investing in an electronic security system is the best way to protect your assets and keep your employees safe. Hopefully, knowing the reasons above will help you decide better to invest in security systems.

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A Small Business Guide to Data Center Management

data-center-management

Data center management isn’t the easiest task to accomplish. In fact, it’s so complex, given all the technical matters that have to be addressed within the data center. All those begin with the protection of customer data, and then moving forward towards ensuring that the data is physically safe at all times. Likewise, there’s that added pressure of facing customers’ ever-increasing needs and demands plus the coming in of more technological advancements. 

For data center managers, that’s a whole lot of job functions to perfect and get done right. This is the reason why even small businesses have to aim for the best possible data center management tactics and services, like those from reputable data centre services. It’s a lot to learn, but it’s one of the most important facets to learn, in the name of business stability and success. 

Here’s everything you need to know as a small business, so you can get the ropes of what it entails to have good data center management. 

Understand A Brief Background First on What Data Center Management Is 

data-center-management

A good data center management practice can’t commence if you don’t even have a basic background on what data center management is. For small businesses in the startup phase, it’s understandable that you’ll have a lot of catching up to do to beef up your knowledge on data center management.

To start, here’s a brief guide. Data center management refers to the job functions of professionals, known as the data center managers, to oversee the technical and IT-related issues of a company. These include functions such as:

  • Management of computer and server operations.
  • Protection and security of the data.
  • Working through large amounts and quantities of data.
  • Going through the services and applications that must be used for this purpose; and
  • Ensuring the privacy and security of data, to comply with good cybersecurity practices.

Essentially, many of those job functions can be managed directly. Nowadays, nonetheless, technology has made it possible to automate some of those job functions. Through automation, unnecessary manual tasks are eliminated, paving the way for more efficient data center management.

Maximize The Storage Space You Have

For small businesses, one of the biggest challenges you may face is the lack of enough storage. Because you’re still in the startup phase, it’s expected that you’ll be very practical and careful about your expenses. This also entails not spending any more than is necessary for the data you need to store.

The key here is not to feel compelled to have very big storage space. The space you have now is enough, for as long as you know how to maximize storage. This is a key trait to learn, so you’re ready for when your business expands, and you’ll have more information to store.

With data centers, the ‘space’ being talked about here is the capacity to hold information. It’s thousands of terabytes and petabytes of information you have to keep. As you maximize the storage space, your effort should also include ensuring that the available space is efficient.

For example, you may want to switch out your outdated systems to newer ones that have re-write speeds capable of meeting customer demand. Networking storage devices work, too, as those are more flexible and have lower overhead.

Implement Real-Time Monitoring

Real-time monitoring is one of the best ways to check the overall performance of your data center. This is very important, given how data centers work 24/7, round the clock. There’s no room for any delay or inability to cope with any unforeseen failures that may come along the way.

Data centers are very complex, with quite a variety of elements in place. You have applications, power distribution, cooling systems, and storage units, to name a few. With that, continuous monitoring to have real-time data and metrics is needed to come up with sound decision-making in data center monitoring.

Here’s a bonus tip for you. A data center infrastructure managed (DCIM) solution is a software or tool which can help your data monitoring team achieve real-time monitoring of all those metrics. By using one, you can effectively analyze, monitor, and produce reports in real-time, so that decisions can be made accordingly, without any delay.

Be Alert About Some of the Common Problems Faced in Data Center Management

For small businesses, it’s not enough simply to learn about the basics of data center management. It’s imperative to go as far as actually coming face to face also with the common problems encountered in a data center.

When you’re aware of what those are, you’ll be able to determine whether or not your data center is potentially going through those problems as well. The earlier you can decipher those, the higher the better the chances you’ll have to work towards overcoming the onset of those concerns.

Those potential problems faced by data centers include:

  • Difficulties in deploying new applications and services faster, when your business has a limited understanding of resource availability, accompanied by inconsistent structure and policies.
  • Management of various vendors, simultaneously, as well as their respective equipment, operating systems, and applications. On top of that, there are also the underlying upgrade processes and warranty policies of each.
  • Manage the cost of running the data center, to make it as cost-efficient and budget friendly as possible, whereby every movement is decided upon that which is identified to be the best cost possible.

Know What Your Assets Are

data-center-management

Proper management of the data center as a whole also involves getting to know at an in-depth level what your assets are. Take note of those individually, so that every asset is properly accounted for. Documentation is essential to good data center management so that any doubts and gray areas you have are ironed out smoothly. Assets management is also up for innovations.

For example, study and understand how certain equipment affects and interacts with another. In a data center, everything is interconnected. When you have information on this matter, the data center manager and operations team will also know how to layout the storage facility, to make for higher operational efficiency.

Final Thoughts on Data Center Management

Without a doubt, one of the most important assets in today’s business operations is data. Technology has paved the way for information to be readily available. This is an advantage for businesses when compared to how operations were run in the years prior. With this advantage, however, comes tremendous responsibility, beginning with learning how to best manage those data, stored in a unified data center. 

The strategies mentioned above can pave the way for a strong foundation in data center management. By doing so, the information you’ve gathered and kept can continue to be a good business resource for your company. 

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How Managed IT Services Can Benefit Your Small Business

As a small business owner, you’re probably used to handling day-to-day operations on your own. However, outsourcing repetitive tasks can give you more free time to work on growing your business. One area where outsourcing can be particularly helpful is IT. Even if you have an IT department in-house, they might not have the manpower to handle everything during busy periods. Managed IT services are a cost-effective way to outsource some or all of your IT needs. Here are some of the ways that managed IT services can benefit small businesses. 

What are managed IT services?

Managed IT services are provided by third party companies. They can be customized to suit your business’s needs – for example, you can outsource all of your IT needs or use managed IT services to supplement your existing IT department. Managed IT companies can provide assistance with routine tasks, but they can also help with complex security issues and offer support during emergencies. Some tasks that a managed IT provider might help with include remote monitoring, communications support, and security threat response, just to name a few. 

How can these services benefit small businesses?

Hiring managed IT services can give small businesses a huge advantage as they grow and develop. Here are some of the ways that managed IT services can benefit small businesses. 

1. Managed IT providers help keep your digital assets safe and secure. 

With today’s technology, so many aspects of your business can be conducted online. Because of this, it’s very important to make sure your website and servers are fully secure. This is where managed IT providers can be very helpful for a small business. If your digital security is compromised, it can cost you financially and even damage your reputation.

Not only do managed IT providers offer ongoing remote monitoring, but they can also help you set up your systems in a way that minimizes the risk of a security breach. This is particularly important if you have team members working remotely and potentially using unsecured internet connections. On top of that, your managed IT provider can also update your systems regularly to protect against new security threats. 

2. IT services are available 24/7. 

Even if you have an IT team in house, they aren’t going to be available all the time. Unfortunately, there are instances where you might need IT support outside of normal working hours. Managed IT companies are set up so that they can offer support at any time of day. This includes constant remote monitoring, which can catch potential security issues or technical problems before you do. You’ll also be able to contact your managed IT provider at any time if you need extra help or support. This is another benefit that is particularly helpful for remote teams that work in multiple time zones or have flexible schedules, as you won’t always be able to guarantee that the other party is online. 

3. Managed IT services keep your day-to-day operations running efficiently. 

managed-IT

When you’re working with a small team, your employees can get spread thin very quickly. It can be difficult just to keep up with important day-to-day tasks, leaving very little extra time for product development and innovation. Your managed IT team can take on some of the routine tasks that are holding you back from business growth.

This gives you and your team extra time to be creative and focus on moving forward, rather than getting stuck in the same routine every day. It also can reduce your team’s stress levels at work, knowing that you have a team on hand to help you if an emergency does come up. Your managed IT provider can help everyone get more done, without spreading your in-house team too thin. Not only will this help your business be more successful, but your team will also appreciate having a good work-life balance. 

4. IT companies can offer specialty services. 

These companies are very experienced and can help with many different types of technology. It can be hard to replicate this level of experience with a small team of people, no matter how talented they are. Some types of hardware or software require special certifications or training in order to use. Expanding your IT team with full-time employees to tackle these problems just isn’t realistic for many small businesses. Training programs for your existing team members can also be expensive.

Using these companies to handle your specialty tech needs is a much more cost-efficient option for many small businesses. You’ll have access to a wealth of specialized knowledge and skills when you need it. This can help you tackle new challenges and offer better service to your customers. 

5. Your managed IT provider can grow with you. 

One of the best things about these services is that they are scalable. If you’re working on a tight budget right now, you can outsource a few key services to keep your costs down. As your business grows, you can add on managed IT services as you see fit. Managed IT is very easy to adjust to fit your needs. A reliable provider will check in with you periodically to ensure that all of your technology needs are being met.

Small businesses in today’s market need to have a robust online presence and reliable internal technology, regardless of what industry you are in. Managed IT services are very accessible and relatively easy to set up, and they can help keep your business safe and productive. These services are particularly important for businesses that don’t have an in-house IT team. However, you can also use them as a supplemental resource even if you do have an in-house team.

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Know Before You Go: 10 Tips for Doing Business Abroad

business-abroad

Every business owner wants to expand their horizon and explore new opportunities to increase their sales. Therefore, they look to expand their operations into new countries. Doing business abroad opens you to a wide range of benefits. You can access the international pool of talent and extend your global foothold. 

While there are many perks of moving abroad, it is difficult for every business to expand its operations in a new territory. It requires extensive research to understand the new country’s business environment and the challenges you might face. 

Nevertheless, this shouldn’t stop you from entering a new market and doing your business abroad. So, to help you out, we will discuss a few tips for doing business abroad. Let’s get right to it. 

Tips To Help You Doing Business Abroad

business-abroad

While you can enjoy numerous perks by establishing your business abroad, it isn’t an easy task. You must prepare for the challenges ahead to settle into the new business environment. Here are some tips that you can follow. 

  • Study the Culture

The most imperative thing when setting up a business abroad is to learn the new place’s culture. People will be more comfortable doing business with you if they see you understand their culture and traditional norms. 

You might want to know their cultural norms and customs for your business to quickly adapt to the new environment. Start by learning about their holidays and significant events so you can offer your customers special offers during those times. It will enable you to stay competitive in the foreign market. 

  •  Know about the Taxation 

Another critical factor for people that want to set up business abroad is taxation. Every country’s tax system is different, and you need to know everything about it. Understanding the tax schemes, important dates, international agreements, etc., will save you from any possible legal complications. 

You can hire a tax CPA for expats in the country where you plan to expand your business. They will give you an overview of all the legal technicalities of setting up the business in a foreign country.

  • Look at the Competitors 

Researching and looking at your competitors is critical if you want to move or expand your existing business. This way, you can know how the companies offering the same goods or services in the country are doing. 

Also, you can learn what tactics are working for them and how to use them for your business. You can get a brief idea about the intended audience that your competitors are targeting. 

  •  Learn the Local Language 

Moving to a new country means finding new people that won’t have the same language as yours. Therefore, you must learn the local language to communicate with your peers. 

While English is a popular language, it won’t be helpful if you start your business in a European or Middle Eastern country. By learning the local language, you can remove the communication barriers with your employees that can lead to problems. 

  •  Go through the Insurance Options 

Globalization has made it relatively easy to set up a business abroad. However, there are still possible risks associated with expanding your operations aboard. So, having an insurance policy is vital to mitigate the impact of any damages or loss. 

Also, some governments offer grants to the companies that want to establish themselves in their countries. So, you can also check if any grants are provided in the country you want to move your business to.

  •  Find out About the Hiring Practices 

Moving your business to a different country means you would have to hire labor from there. So, you need to understand the hiring practices of that particular country to find the best talent for your business.

You might also have to send some of your local staff aboard to oversee the operations. Before sending them, they would require proper training to settle in the new environment. 

  • Select the Right Business Structure

Different countries offer incentives and tax cuts as per your business structure. You might enjoy a better tax rate and other incentives as a sole trader in your local country. 

However, the country you plan to do business with might offer better incentives to corporations. So, you need to have a comprehensive understanding of what business structure is best for you abroad. 

  • Look for Common Ground

business-abroad

When setting up a business abroad, you might find people with different racial and cultural backgrounds in your team. Each of them might have a different mindset, and you would have to make a special effort to ensure they work with harmony and cohesion. 

The best way to do this is by finding common ground among all the workers. You should ensure they are on one page regarding their job expectations and rules. Consequently, there would be fewer confusion or disagreements among them. 

  • Set a Clear Communication Process 

A transparent communication process is vital, regardless of where you are doing your business. If you don’t communicate with your employees, there will be a sense of distrust, ultimately impacting your business. 

There are chances of more mistakes happening if the team doesn’t properly communicate with you. Therefore, set a straightforward communication process to ensure there are no issues. Also, be open to feedback and listen to others’ views since you might get a valuable tip to grow your business aboard. 

  • Try to Adapt 

Lastly’ there is no saying whether everything will go according to the plan. There is always a chance you might encounter something out of the blue when you set up your business abroad. 

So, be flexible and adapt to the changing situation. It will ensure your business survives in the foreign market, and you won’t look to move it back to your local country.

Final Word on Doing Business Abroad

Moving or setting up your business abroad is an excellent way to diversify and increase your revenue streams. While the start might be a bit challenging, and you will face some hurdles, you will learn to deal with them over time. 

Also, always consult lawyers to know about the labor and criminal laws in the specific country. This step is important since laws can vary by state, such as in the US. So, if you are setting up your business in Florida, hire an Ocala criminal lawyer as they have complete knowledge about the state laws.

Following these tips for doing business abroad, your brand can enter and survive in a new market. Always conduct proper research and learn the essential things before setting up your business in a different country.

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