Startup business leaders tend to be obsessed with productivity.
They’ve found the best apps and programs to streamline essential business processes in areas like operations, sales and marketing. They’ve also likely used plenty of apps to handle back office tasks like accounting and HR paperwork.
But those aren’t the only areas where cutting edge offices should be optimizing productivity.
Some of the tasks that can really benefit from the help of an app are the ones that pop up somewhat infrequently and aren’t related to core business functions. These tasks, such as getting meetings catered and collecting money for a group gift, are often still done the old-fashioned way, leaving lots of room for improvement.
Look into these programs and save some headaches for your office manager, or whomever has temporarily stepped into that role.
Here are just a few tasks that can be automated with the help of online tools and apps.
Ordering Food For Meetings
Maybe your staff already has a few favorite neighborhood go-tos when it comes to getting the bagels for that early morning meeting or catering the office holiday party.
But if you’re still designating someone on staff to round up orders, collect money, and leave the office to pick up food, you may be missing an opportunity to save time.
Of course, some restaurants make it super easy to order online already. These are the big chain restaurants (Panera, Chipotle) that have the money to spend developing their own ordering apps and catering menus.
These apps make it easy for an office manager or whoever is in charge to quickly and accurately put everyone’s lunch orders in, and in many cases, the food is delivered straight to the door.
These services allow you to search for new restaurants by cuisine type, order online, and opt to get the food delivered for a small fee. You can check out ratings for service and food.
Sometimes there are minimum order requirements, but when you’re ordering for a group, these minimums are surpassed quickly.
These apps have even gotten smart recently and added features specifically for the needs of an office. Group ordering features allow one user to send a link out to their colleagues, and anyone who is interested can put in their own orders.
GrubHub for Work even has an option to let each colleague pay for their own meal separately. It doesn’t get much easier than that when it comes to group meals.
Collecting Money for Shared Gifts
Office managers often collect contributions from the rest of the staff for gestures like flowers (think sympathy, get well, or congratulations) and gifts (new babies, weddings, retirements).
Collecting money for these things, especially in smaller offices, used to require one employee executing an awkward door-to-door campaign for cash throughout the office.
Thankfully, those days are gone.
Sites like ShareaGift, Payit2 and HipChip allow the office manager to create mini fundraising pages and send them to possible donors along with suggested donations. The payments can be made easily online (no need to run up to the ATM for cash if you don’t have it or would prefer to use a credit card) and are easy for the fundraiser to give once everyone has contributed.
HipChip specializes in gift cards for coaches, teachers and colleagues and can send an e-gift card directly from the app once the fundraiser is over. Payit2 and ShareaGift deposit the collected funds directly into the user’s bank account.
These programs are nice because they keep records of all donations and they may even send email reminders to the people in the campaign. That takes a lot of pressure off of your office manager or de facto gift collector.
If you’re still using a paper visitor log to track the comings and goings at your facility, it’s time for an upgrade.
After all, paper is becoming increasingly obsolete in most modern offices. There’s no reason that an old-fashioned paper visitor log should give a low-tech first impression on your visitors.
By keeping visitor info securely in the cloud instead of on paper, these apps add security (no more exposing visitor names to newer visitors). They also give the entire office a better picture of who is in the facility at any given moment, which can be especially important in emergency situations.
These apps also have tons of other features, such as customized reports and notifications for alerting staff when certain visitors check in. Some programs can even take a visitor photo for a badge and coordinate with a visitor badge printer.
The best programs also let companies tailor the check-in process for various visitor types, which expedites the entire visitor check-in process and frees your front desk staff up for other tasks.
Planning a business trip takes a lot of work, but there are plenty of apps that aim to make it much easier for both the traveler and the home office.
You can forward your reservation details to apps like Tripit and TripCase and get the details laid out in a helpful master itinerary that includes flight, car rental, and hotel information. The itinerary may also include details such as meetings, meals and activities, and even documents that you need for scheduled activities. Expensify is another app with itinerary features as well as some cool incentive and rewards programs to keep expenses as low as possible.
These apps may also:
- Integrate with accounting software for great reporting
- Make it easy to record expenses by snapping photos of receipts as they are received
- Integrate with ride sharing companies like Lyft and Uber
- Make it easy to share your itineraries with other members of your team and update itineraries as they change
- Include options for planning a trip for a group of colleagues
Conference Room Scheduling
The pen and paper sign up sheets that used to hang outside the doors of conference rooms have gotten a serious digital upgrade.
These apps may integrate with employee calendars and include friendly reminders before scheduled meetings. They also let users run detailed reports about meeting room usage.
Maybe as you read about these tools, you’re wondering whether there’s one out there for your personal least favorite office management task. The good news is that more office tools and apps become available every day. If no one has created an app for your problem yet, they probably will soon.
If you have another suggestion for a great office management app, we’d love to hear about it.