5 Business Apps Guaranteed to Increase Your Productivity in 2016

The age of the paperless office is well and truly upon us. One need only pay a visit to a shared workspace like WeWork or The Office Group in London, to witness the army of entrepreneurs and small businesses busily working from hot desks. Their offices simply consisting of; a tablet, a Smartphone, a MacBook Air, white ear phones, and an array of chargers.

For these tech entrepreneurs, their offices are virtual, and provided they can access the Internet they can operate from pretty much anywhere. Amongst the key enablers is the growing ubiquity of Software as a Service (SaaS) or cloud based solutions, that facilitate access to data stored remotely freeing the user from the need to work in one physical location. The days of desktops overflowing with icons, files and folders are also well gone, with many screens reduced to 4 colourful icons representing; Dropbox, Firefox, Skype and Spotify. These 4 links with the world are all that is needed to operate effectively.

Google is often a first port of call for many of these same users, as many use the Google suite to manage mail, calendaring and to share documents. However, while we are all familiar with the flexibility the Google application brings, there are a number of other less well known solutions that are increasing in popularity. These tools are very different in terms of how they help businesses, but share common traits, as they all benefit their users by enhancing productivity and efficiency via SaaS based solutions.

What are these tools and how can they help your business?

1/ Klipboard – Organize Field Employees & Eradicate Paper

Klipboard is a mobile field service platform for the management of field based employees, and the capture of data from a tablet. It is suitable for undertaking assessments, maintenance records, inspections, surveys or just about any process you can imagine. Gone are the days of relying on paper based methods, instead, Klipboard simplifies data collection, task scheduling, location mapping and messaging. The easy to use, consumer style app, enables employees to capture text, images, signatures or view documents, plus more – even when offline. No more printing, filing or lost paper forms!

Where: Klipboard.io

2/ Docusign – Send, Sign and Approve Documents

Docusign enables parties to electronically sign documents replacing the need to print out documents, to sign them and then to either scan, fax or post them. Again the solution is a simple one, however the benefits are significant in terms of efficiency and productivity gains especially for those who need to obtain lots of signed documents.

Where: Docusign

3/ eFax – Easy Faxing Anywhere

For most of us the days of waiting impatiently by fax machines are well and truly behind us. However, there are numerous professions (including the legal one) where faxes are still used on a daily basis. While this will undoubtedly change in the years to come, faxes remain an important communication tool for certain documents. What has changed however, is the reliance on physical fax machines has evaporated, and efaxes are widely used as viable alternatives where the fax is transmitted directly to your phone or computer.

Where: eFax

4/ Scanner Pro – A Scanner in Your Pocket

Scanner Pro allows you to turn your iPhone or iPad into a portable scanner. The simple app enables you to capture an image which is converted to a PDF, which can then be emailed, printed, uploaded or faxed from the app. The use cases are varied, and with its extremely competitive pricing it serves to yet again replace scanners, a hardware device that was commonplace in most offices up until fairly recently.

Where: iOS, Readdle

5/ Xpenditure – Claim Back Your Time

Xpenditure is a leading expense management solution that works on a very simple premise. Employees simply take a photo of their receipt (using the app), submit it, and the software does the rest. It reads the key data including; the date, merchant, currency, amount and spend category. The net result is that the finance team have real time access to expenses, enabling them to have full visibility on company expenses, while also enabling them to review, to process and to reimburse employees in real time. The entire process is transformed, and the days of multiple steps, involving a range of different parties, and envelopes stuffed with receipts are consigned to history. (Disclosure: the author works with Xpenditure)

Where: iOS, Android

In summary, a number of factors have combined to enable employees to work efficiently while on the road. Hardware has become more powerful, with increased battery life and lighter models (especially for laptops) enabling workers to be truly mobile. Wifi has also become much more ubiquitous, enabling employees to connect to applications more easily (alternatively they can tether from their mobile devices).

Business software has also matured, and a whole range of applications have been created which replace older more paper based processes. What is most attractive about these developments, is that for the most part the cost of these applications is much more competitive than existing solutions without even factoring in the significant efficiency gains, improved security and reduction in errors that these solutions bring.

This article originally appeared here

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5 Personal Finance Books to Add to Your Reading List

What have you been reading this summer? Every person reading this post likely has a different answer. Some prefer lightweight reads in the summer months such as young adult fiction or romance novels. Other prefers historical fiction, political satire, or biographies. Maybe sci-fi and fantasy are more your speed. Whatever you have been reading, hopefully you’ve enjoyed it.

Now, let’s talk about a few books you should be reading as your autumn closes out. When it comes to personal finance books, everybody could use a little bit more information, and a little more education. Whether the authors are giving advice on saving money, living on a budget, or investing, books on personal finance are great additions to anybody’s summer reading list.

This is why we have put together this list of 5 books on personal finance that you should read before the weather turns cold.

Women and Money – Suze Orman

Suze Orman has provided insightful financial advice to people for decades. She continues this pattern with “Women and Money”. Suze Orman recognizes that when it comes to money women need both education and empowerment. This book includes a 5 month program that helps women establish financial independence and personal freedom. Many books provide a lot of heady, high level information.

Ms. Orman takes a more practical and relatable approach providing women with specific steps that they can take towards improving their financial situations.

Why didn’t they Teach me this in School: 99 Personal Money Management Principles to Live – Cary Siegal

Cary Siegal wrote this book upon realizing that his children and their peers would graduate from high school and college without any formal, personal finance education. In spite of covering 99 principles, this book is quite easy to read and the lessons are conveniently parsed out.

This book targets young adults, but there is valuable advice here for any age group.

The Success Principles: How to get from where you are to where you want to be – Jack Canfield and Janet Switzer

Do you have plans and life goals that you have yet to achieve? Maybe you would like to start a business or go back to college. Whatever your plans are, it can be easy to feel stuck where you are, and getting to a place where you have achieved your goals can seem impossible.

This book is a goal-oriented book that gives financial advice that relates to conquering your next challenge. The authors include daily action steps, ways to increase your confidence levels, and practical advice on living in the modern age.

Rich Dad Poor Dad – Robert Kiyosaki

Rich Dad Poor Dad is a book about money lessons learned from two different men and the influence those lessons had on the author. The lessons he learned from the rich dad in the novel gave the author the opportunity to retire before the age of 50. In this book, he passes that knowledge on to others.

Many readers will be surprised to find that what they have been taught about money is completely off base.

Total Money Makeover – Dave Ramsey

Dave Ramsey is a well-known author, financial guru, and a nationally syndicated radio talk show host. Ramsey has a very easy to read writing style, and provides a lot of great practical advice to his readers.

The best endorsement of Ramsey’s is advice is simply the success that his readers and listeners have achieved by following his advice. Many are put off by Ramsey’s tendency to be extreme in his rhetoric, and that is a valid criticism. However, if that can be ignored in favor of focusing on just his financial advice, readers can learn a lot.

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Integrated Data Management is a Productivity Goldmine

Everyone’s talking about Big Data these days, but all the data in the world is useless unless it’s structured in a way that increases productivity and profitability.Fortunately, integrated data solutions can blend and unify data sources and business processes to save time and money.A professionally designed integrated data solution has the potential to integrate thousands of data sources.The ability to connect and track business data, including sales, advertising, marketing, finance and SEO, empowers decision makers and customer service representatives with the information they need to improve business performance.

Data Integration

The idea of collecting and tracking disparate streams of data to improve business performance can be difficult to grasp.The amount of data collected by an average business has literally exploded in recent years.Many businesses have attempted to employ data management solutions such as cloud-based applications , limited legacy systems and other out-of-the-box digital products to stay ahead of the data avalanche.For example, genomic testing companies having to house trillions of strands of DNA data for personalized medicine are finding their process does not run smoothly with access to complex data storage and analysis. Designing and implementing an effective data management interface is now a crucial component of business success.

Remaining competitive in the global economy requires business leaders to adapt to emerging trends.The integration of business data collection systems is no longer optional for large and even medium size businesses.Data integration reduces labor costs and improves profit margins.The cutting edge of effective data management varies from business to business.A comprehensive approach to data integration is essential.Relying on one-size-fits-all data management products is likely to yield minimal results and increase long-term costs.

Organizational Goals

When business leaders establish clear goals related to business performance, they have a much better chance of arriving at a desired destination.Data integration is an essential aspect of attaining organizational goals.It’s rare that a company IT specialist possesses the skills and experience necessary to merge data collection sources into a unified decision making tool.Establishing a long-term relationship with a professional data integration solutions company is a more reliable way to develop a customized data integration system and achieve organizational goals.

Data integration is a proven means of eliminating data handling and enhancing organizational productivity.Well designed eCommerce solutions allow company leaders and representatives to focus on product and customer development rather than data mining and archiving.The industrial age was characterized by important developments in automation.Some things never change.A revolution in digital automation promises to change the business world forever.

Business Solutions

Increasing business efficiency makes it possible to get more done without adding more employees.Investing in productivity solutions is the key to continued business success.Data flow efficiency is a fundamental aspect of business success.This requires a willingness to listen to data integration experts and adopting a long-term approach to data management.When it becomes obvious that existing data management systems are hindering productivity and business performance, it’s time to consider the available options.

Data management systems don’t last forever.That’s why it makes sense to design a flexibleintegrated data management system that meets current needs while preparing for the future. There’s nothing more frustrating than a do-it-your-self system, plug & play integration application or add-onproduct solution that is incapable of keeping up with the volume of a growing business.It doesn’t take long for an aging legacy system to break down just in time for someone to hit the panic button.It’s time consuming and expensive to catch up with the digital age after falling behind.That’s why it’s best to stay ahead of the digital game by investing in a comprehensive data integration system.

Data Touch Points

The number of data collection touch points in an average business is astounding.Designing an efficient map that allows data to flow efficiently and be made available to key organizational stakeholders is a productivity goldmine.Always remember that the purpose of a data integration system is to accomplish important business goals.Data flow is never a finished product.A data integration system must be capable of adapting to market trends and revised business goals.Developing an ongoing relationship with an experienced data integration company allows the flow of business data to evolve naturally.

The flow of data encompasses so many digital languages.Connecting the flow of transaction data in a standardized way has the potential to invigorate any business.Whether a data management system integrates applications within a business or connects with external partners, converting and standardizing file types will ensure the viability of business data.Converted files, including PDFs, XML, EDI, hadoop and excel, makes it possible for businesses to import and export data in a standardized file format.

Improving business productivity and eliminating human error are only two of the enormous benefits associated with a properly designed integrated data management system.Under-investing in integrated data management is a costly mistake.The number of data touch points necessary to operate a profitable business in the digital age will undoubtedly continue to escalate.Deciding to learn about the available strategies for integrating data streams is a sound business decision.

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Calling all Innovators & Entrepreneurs, we need your help & your green VOTE !!

As with any Irish technology company, we all suffer unique challenges when growing business internationally. As a country we have a small population so we struggle when trying to make as much noise as our International competitors. Even places we assume are tiny states such as Haiti & Togo have twice and three times our population.

Hence we need your help…

One of our company’s, Surface Power HONE which has developed a revolutionary “daylight” powered Nano-heat engine technology is short-listed (final 18 was judged by experts) for the 2Degrees Champions Award –  “Innovation of the Year” which is the world’s leading collaboration platform and service for sustainable business with over 46,500 members from 177 countries. https://www.2degreesnetwork.com/

Surface Power HONE has nearly 7,000 installations of this patented technology over 8 countries to date and it has been kept fairly secretive until recently. The technology was field tested in the West of Ireland & New Zealand as the daylight levels are some of the lowest in the OECD. In short, it replaces the use of oil and gas for heating and cooling with free daylight. Have a look at LIVE customers on our website such as the UK National Health Service running their hospital’s central heating on free “daylight” (sounds mad but true !!)

The next phase of the 2Degrees “Innovation of the Year Awards” is a voting stage which will reduce the final 18 to 5 for the big awards ceremony and we need your help and your vote. 

Although already in the short-list of 18, we are the only Irish Technology company in this shortlist and are up against huge players such as Nestle, General Motors & B&Q.

You can vote for us by clicking the link below to get us into the final 5 and we thank you in advance for that vote. Be sure to tweet it afterwards using the link so we can personally send you a thank you tweet. Go raibh maith agat as do chabhair.

Best Regards, John Quinn, CEO. (Twitter – @johnquinn_irl )

Read our story and VOTE from below.


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6 Tricks to Design Your Workstation the Creative Way

The environment in which you work often determines how productive and creative you will be. When you work in a workstation that’s dull and colorless, your productivity usually will be inhibited and your creative juices will be less likely to flow.

6 tricks to design your workstation

Your workstation – whether it is at home or an office with other people – says a lot about who you are and how your personality affects the way you do your job. Each particular workstation configuration tells its own story about the person who works there.

Having a workstation that promotes creativity and success is especially important if you have a job in which creative thinking skills are important, such as a graphic designer or web design professional.

Regardless of your job, you are probably going to be spending a lot of your time – if not most of your work week – at your workstation. So it might as well be an environment that is comfortable and puts you in a good mood so you can be more productive.

Trick Number 1 – You’re Going to Need Some Boxes

Get yourself a few simple storage boxes. You are going to need them to organize your office and clear out the clutter. You can purchase plastic or cardboard boxes at any office supply or home improvement store. Or see if you can get some boxes for free from your local grocery store or other retail business you frequent.

These boxes represent your decision to make positive changes in your workspace. They tell the world – and yourself – that you are finally ready to take action to be more productive.

Trick Number 2 – And Away Goes the Clutter

If you don’t have an effective management system in place for your paperwork and other clutter, it can easily get disorganized and impede your creative thinking. Look around your workspace: Are there piles of papers and reports everywhere? What are they? Do you really need them?

The first step is to clean everything off the surface of your desk, other than your computer and telephone. As you are removing each item, ask yourself this question: “Have I touched this particular report/paperwork/other type of clutter in the past week?” If the answer is “yes”, put it into one pile. If the answer is “no”, put it into another.

Most of the items in your “no” pile can be stored away or thrown out. This is especially true if they are printed duplicates of reports or paperwork you already have stored in your computer or can access online.

The majority of the items in your “yes” pile also can be stored or tossed. Unless a particular report or paperwork or other item is something you absolutely need to have access to today, right now, then it has no business being on your desk. And it’s time for it to go bye-bye!

Trick Number 3 – What’s the Deal with Your Lighting?

Lighting is an area that is often overlooked, but actually can have a profound effect on both the appearance and productivity of your workspace.

Take a look at your lighting right now. Are there two separate sources of light in your room? One should come from an overhead lighting fixture or, even better, from a natural light sources such as a window. The second should come from a task light.

Trick Number 4 – Have a Focal Point

Having a focal point in your workspace directs your attention so that you can more easily keep on task. For many people, this is the laptop or PC at your workstation, but it also can be something like a calendar, a to-do list or something else that keeps you on track.

If your computer is your focal point, improve its visual impact by surrounding it with some grouped artwork or installing a screen saver or background that you find especially inspiring. This can be something like a goal you are working toward.

An area rug can also “anchor” a workspace and make you feel more grounded as you work productively.

Trick Number 5 – Colors Matter

Different colors can have a profound psychological effect on the brain, studies have shown. Colors that are “blaah”, such as oatmeal or khaki, do little to inspire creativity. Strong, vibrant colors can be oppressive and can overwhelm the senses.

Decorate your workspace with a neutral shade and a touch of color to inspire your creative side. Yellow is known to stimulate creativity, mental activity and clarity of thought. Red is aggressive and promotes selling or making deals. Blues and greens are soothing. And orange encourages socialization.

Trick Number 6 – Inspire Yourself

Find something that motivates you in your work and use it to keep you inspired. This can include such things as family photos, an inspirational quote, or even freshly cut flowers.

These six tips can help revamp your workspace so that you have a refreshed attitude and are able to take a bold, new approach to your job.

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A Guide to Employee Motivation

As a business owner, staying on task and ahead of schedule will directly determine whether your company will sink or swim. One of the biggest problems within companies today is small inconsistencies that turn into large problems in the future. Once they get to that point they are even harder to fix because no one really remembers where the problem started in the first place. Use this article as a direct guide to employee motivation and help keep your employees motivated and honest with their work on a daily bases.

1. Give constructive criticism, but don’t run them into the ground

This is the number one reason employees would ever be dishonest about an incident happening because of how they are directly treated by their employer. Nine times out of 10 employees will shy away from you and try avoiding confrontation at all costs, even if it hurts the company. It has been proven that good support to people who do something wrong has an overall better effect that the opposite. Say things like “that’s not quite right, here try doing this instead” then following up with “you are giving great effort; just remember to turn in your work at the end of the day”. Starting or ending the statement with a positive feedback will almost guarantee that the employee will get a sense of acceptance and want to try to impress you in the long run.

2. Show them the light at the end of the tunnel

Show some incentive or a reason to do better at work. It can be either profitable or just recognition throughout the workplace. Some great ideas for profitable incentives could be things like a pair of baseball tickets, a bigger bonus at the end of the term, or even just something as simple as lunch on a Friday. If you do not have extra money for incentives give your employees something they can be proud of. For example you could have an employee recognition program, such as employee of the month. It leads to good office morale and motivates employees to do better work.

3. Feed the hungry

It was touched on in the step above, but if you have the revenue to do it, people love free food. For instance, it might be easier to rally the troops for that 2:30 p.m. meeting if they know there will be free donuts and coffee available. Also as a side note, caffeine will be your best motivator. Whether you can afford to buy coffee for everyone once a week or even get a vending machine that has cheap caffeine sources in it, caffeine will help give your employees that small energy boost they need to finish out the day.

4. Trick them into thinking they are not working

One of the easiest motivators will occur without the employee even knowing it. Be spontaneous and change things up around the office. Instead of having your weekly meeting in the small boring office, try having it outside or renting out a hotel suite once a month. Another great example would be let them all work from home one day and only require them to participate in a free conference call. This works well because employee will feel like they are not at work and the creative juices start to flow, hence making them more productive.

5. Let them be heard

If you really want your company to thrive, let your employees know that what they do has a direct impact on the outcome of something major. Give them something to work for and be proud of. There are many ways of doing this, including having a meeting where they give suggestions on different topics to better help or change the company. Also, sitting an employee down that may be struggling more than the others and explaining to them the overall importance of that person’s job may help boost their self-motivation. Showing that there job can directly affect the lives of others is a good motivator that will help them to work harder.

Whether you own your own small business or manage a company with 10000 employees, if they do not perform the way they should, nothing will get done. Use the above steps as a general guide to help better motivate your employees in a more positive manner.

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