Today’s mobile technology means you no longer have to be at your desk or laptop to conduct business.
Cloud-based software allows you to store important data that you can access anywhere at any time. Instead of lugging around a 5-pound laptop, you can do business from your smartphone or tablet.
What exactly do you need to operate your company from the beach, a hotel lobby or a favorite coffee shop? There are hundreds of apps to choose from that can help you do business from your mobile device. All of these products gain access to your company’s information through the “cloud,” which may seem scary. However, cloud-based technology is now as secure as computer-based software. With the cloud, you also do not have to worry about losing data if your PC crashes or you lose a thumb drive.
Choosing the right cloud-based apps to help manage different areas of your business can be overwhelming. What follows is a directory of industry-leading applications that address a range of business functions:
Finance and Accounting
Intuit-ownedQuickBooks is the U.S. market leader in accounting software. The cloud-based version of QuickBooks was redesigned last year to make it easier to use on a smartphone or tablet. QuickBooks can sync your finances and account information across all your devices, including the iPad, iPhone and Android. The app provides real-time payables, receivables and cash flow, and prepares your data for tax time. The QuickBooks dashboard’s color-coded approach makes it easy to track open invoices, overdue bills and your overall cash balance. QuickBooks also allows you to personalize and send your invoices from anywhere at any time, and it deposits money into your bank account when you get paid.
With QuickBooks, you can expand your mobile reach through integration with other Intuit products, as well as more than 90 third-party business apps.
Pricing: QuickBooks allows a free, month-long trial period to try the software. Subscriptions start at $12.95 per month. The most popular package, QuickBooks Essentials, costs $26.95 per month. The premium QuickBooks Plus product includes inventory tracking and tax preparation, and costs $39.95 per month.
User Feedback: QuickBooks Online has more than 500,000 installs on the Google Play Store. Nearly 13,000 users have reviewed the app, giving it an average rating of 4.3 out of five stars. QuickBooks Online is available to download on Google Play and iTunes.
New Zealand-based Xero is aiming to replace QuickBooks as the top accounting software for U.S. businesses. Unlike QuickBooks, Xero was developed with mobile devices in mind. The Xero Touch application works with the iPhone, iPad and Android. Xero offers real-time tracking of accounting transactions and customizable invoices that customers can pay digitally. The software’s account reconciling feature is easy to use and allows you to perform what was once a time-consuming task within minutes. Xero also integrates with more than 300 third-party business apps. That flexibility lets you consolidate your company’s accounting with project management and client relationship data.
Pricing: Like QuickBooks, Xero offers a free, one-month trial. The software’s Starter package starts at $6.30 per month with 1 gigabyte of storage and a limited amount of invoicing, billing and bank transaction reconciling. The standard package allows unlimited transactions and costs $21 per month for the first six months. The premium package offers payroll for as many as 10 employees and costs $49 per month for the first six months.
User Feedback: Xero Accounting has more than 100,000 installs on Google Play. The app has been reviewed by 1,400 users, who give it an average rating of 3.7 stars. Xero can be downloaded from Google Play and iTunes.
One of the advantages of FreshBooks presents is that it can show exactly when a client has viewed your digital invoice. This capability eliminates the common customer excuse about “not receiving the invoice.” Like other online accounting software, FreshBooks allows you to customize invoices and lets your customers pay digitally. With the mobile app, you can record billable hours on your device or smart phone. You can also snap a photo of a receipt with your phone, and it will be added to your company’s expenses. FreshBooks is available on iOS and Android devices.
Pricing: FreshBooks offers a free, 30-day trial period. Pricing starts at $12.95 per month with a package that accommodates as many as five customers and unlimited invoices.
User Feedback: FreshBooks Invoice+Accounting has been installed by more than 100,000 users on Google Play. The app has received more than 1,400 reviews, receiving an overall rating of 4.2 out of five stars. You can download FreshBooks from Google Play or iTunes.
Payroll and accounting platform inDinero is geared to address all of your company’s back office needs. The app handles payables and receivables, payroll, taxation and other accounting functions. InDinero presents financials in easy-to-understand graphics and gives customers access to a team of accountants.
Pricing: InDinero does not openly disclose its pricing. To learn more specifics about InDinero’s products, potential customers must “request an invitation” and fill out a questionnaire about the size of their business and their accounting activity. InDinero states on its website that it is interested in serving companies that are “serious” about business and have ambitious growth plans.
User Feedback: The inDinero app is only available on iOS devices through iTunes. The product has only received eight user reviews, not enough for iTunes to display a rating average.
The Square Reader is a small plug-in that turns your smartphone or tablet into a mobile cash register. Square mails the free Reader device to you, then you register on Square’s app. Customers can swipe their credit cards on your mobile device, sign the screen with their finger, and the payment is deposited in your company’s bank account. Square allows you to track your sales history, add sales reps and mobile registers, and issue customized receipts via text or email.
Pricing: Square’s pricing is transaction-based. For each credit card swipe, Square collects 2.75% of the payment. For entries that are keyed in, the fee is 3.5%.
User Feeback: The Square Register app has received more than 5 million installs. More than 68,000 users have rated the product, giving it an average of 4.5 stars. You can download Square Register from Google Play or iTunes.
Vend is an online point-of-sale software that helps you track inventory and market your services to customers from a Mac, PC or iPad. The app connects to a range of hardware like barcode scanners, receipt printers and cash drawers. Vend can also link to your PayPal account so you can accept quicker mobile phone and credit card payments. Vend can help you manage receivables by linking to other accounting and business software. The app also offers a loyalty program set-up that can be customized to reward your company’s best customers.
Pricing: You can use Vend for free for one month. The service is also free for one location and one device used for point-of-sale checkouts. Plans that accommodate more locations and checkouts range from $59 to $169 per month.
User Feedback: Vend is not available on iTunes or Google Play. You can purchase the product by visiting Vend’s website. Product review site TrustPilot.com has 47 reviews on Vend, with an overall rating of 7.6 out of 10 stars.
ZenPayroll bills itself as is a cost-effective alternative to outsourcing your payrolling to a human resources company. One advantage the application has over other business apps is that ZenPayroll automatically pays all local, state and federal payroll taxes. In addition to paying employees, ZenPayroll accounts for their bonuses as well as 401(k) plan and health care contributions. On payday, employees receive an email that links them to their pay stub. The software also files your company’s W-2 statements.
Pricing: ZenPayroll offers a free two-month trial period. After that, the company charges a base subscription of $29 per month. Each employee costs an extra $6 per month, up to 100 employees.
User Feedback: ZenPayroll’s mobile product is not available to download from iTunes or the Google Play Store. You can download it from the ZenPayroll website. The product has 11 reviews and a five-star rating on the software review site G2crowd.com.
Project Management and Productivity
In today’s hectic business world, it may be necessary for employees to collaborate on projects from any location or device. Started in 2008, online file-sharing company Dropbox has more than 300 million users. Dropbox for Business allows you and your employees to share and work on documents together from anywhere at the same time. Your team can access, edit and share white papers, presentations, spreadsheets and design files from any device. Dropbox for Business is available for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS and Linux. The app also contains audit features that protect confidential business documents.
Pricing: Dropbox offers a free, 30-day trial. An annual base subscription is $750 and accommodates as many as five users.
User Feedback: There have been more than 100 million installs of the Dropbox app through Google Play. However, many people use the app to share photos and not for business purposes. The app has been reviewed by more than 1 million users, who give it an average of 4.4 out of five stars. Dropbox is available to download on both Google Pay and iTunes.
More than 14,000 companies are using Evernote Business as a virtual workspace for collaborating, storing content and tracking projects. The cloud-based app allows users to easily share handwritten notes, sketches and images on virtually any mobile device. Evernote can also transform notes and documents into a screen-friendly presentation. For customers with five employees or more, Evernote also provides accounting functions like invoicing.
Pricing: Evernote’s basic workspace package is free. A subscription to Evernote Premium, which includes enhanced search features, is $39.99 per year. Evernote Business, which provides access for multiple users, costs $120 per user, annually.
User Feedback: Google Play reports more than 100 million installs of Evernote. More than a million users have reviewed the app, giving it a rating of 4.6 out of five stars. Evernote is available to download on Google Play and iTunes.
Now more than 10 years old, Basecamp has evolved into a project management app available on iPhone, iPad and Android. More than 285,000 companies use Basecamp as a hub to initiate and track multiple projects. The app allows your team members to share files and images, post messages and update projects with new assignments. Completed projects are archived, but remain accessible.
Pricing: Basecamp offers a two-month free trial period. The basic package is $29 per month, with no per-user fees. A $79-per-month subscription is designed for companies balancing projects for a number of clients.
User Feedback: The Basecamp 3 app has more than 10,000 installs on Google Play. The app rates an average of 3.9 stars based on more than 150 customer reviews. You can download Basecamp 3 from Google Play or iTunes.
Now much more than a search engine, Google provides a suite of cloud-based services for your mobile office. You can access Gmail, your contacts and an office calendar from any device. Your team can create and update files, presentations and documents through Google Docs, Sheets and Slides. You can also manage your bank account through Google Wallet, a mobile payment app. Google currently has Drive apps for Macs, PCs, iPhones, iPads and Android devices.
Pricing: Google Drive allows you to store as much as 15 GB of data for free. You can rent additional storage for as little as $1.99 per month.
User Feedback: Google Drive has more than 1 billion installs through the Google Play Store. More than 1 million users have given Google Drive an average of 4.3 stars. Google Drive is available to be downloaded from Google Play and iTunes.
Mobile App Usage
More than three-fourths (77%) of small businesses surveyed say they consistently rely on three or more business apps. The most commonly used apps involved remote document access, travel planning and financial management.
Sources: AT&T, Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council
Skype lets you conduct virtual meetings with your staff or business partners from any location. It works on computers, smartphones, tablets, TVs and even land-line phones. Skype’s business application includes free calls, instant messaging, screen sharing and group calls.
Pricing: Many Skype features are free, but subscriptions allow you to lock in low rates for worldwide calls.
User Feedback: Skype has more than 500 million installs on Google Play. More than 7 million customers have reviewed the product, with an average rating of 4.1 stars. Skype can be downloaded from Google Play and iTunes.
Google continues to add features to its cloud-based Gmail. A new inbox includes customizable tabs that make it easy to organize emails by priority. You can also track packages, review products or RSVP for events without opening emails. Gmail’s Hangouts app allows for video conferencing with colleagues across computers, as well as Android and Apple devices. With Gmail’s integration with Google Drive, you can email files that are as large as 10 GB.
Pricing: Gmail provides a free personal account that contains 15 GB of storage. A business account, which includes 30 GB and video meetings for as many as 15 people, costs $5 per user, per month.
User Feedback: Gmail has more than a billion users, according to Google Play. More than 1.4 million people have rated Gmail, giving it an average of 4.3 stars. Gmail can be downloaded from Google Play or iTunes.
A valuable marketing tool, Hootsuite provides a dashboard that tracks and manages all your social media accounts. Having all your social networking in one place makes it easier to interact with customers and build effective digital marketing campaigns. HootSuite allows you to consolidate accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and more than 30 other social networks. The app’s dashboard can be monitored and managed by multiple users.
Pricing: HootSuite offers a free, 30-day trial. Several of Hootsuite’s features are also free for as many as three social media profiles. Other plans allow you to manage 50 or more profiles and start at $9.99 per month.
User Feedback: Hootsuite’s mobile app has more than 1 million installs on Google Play. More than 72,000 users have reviewed the product, giving it an average of 4.1 out of five stars. Hootsuite is available to be downloaded from Google Play or iTunes.
A customer relationship management (CRM) app, Insightly helps thousands of companies track sales and other interactions with customers. The cloud-based CRM manages contacts, emails, key dates, appointments and sales leads. Insightly helps consolidate your data by integrating with Google Apps, Evernote, MailChimp, social media, and other applications.
Pricing: Insightly offers a free, 14-day trial. The app’s Standard package provides unlimited storage for $12 per user, per month. You can also use Insightly’s free plan, which has storage for as many as 2,500 records.
User Feedback: Google Play reports more than 50,000 installs of the Insightly CRM app. More than a thousand users have reviewed the product, giving it an average of 3.8 out of five stars. Insightly CRM is available on both Google Play and iTunes.
Developing email campaigns that engage your audience can be challenging. MailChimp helps you send automated emails based on customer behavior and preferences. The app includes features that let you develop customer profiles. MailChimp uses that data to analyze customer habits, which helps you craft more targeted emails. Other features include design templates, file-sharing and collaborative editing. The app allows you to test subject lines and even recommends the best time to send out a blast email. MailChimp is accessible on iPhone, iPad and Android devices.
Pricing: A free MailChimp account enables you to send as many as 12,000 emails per month. For companies that want to reach more than 2,000 recipients, MailChimp provides a scalable fee schedule that starts at $30 per month.
User Feedback: MailChimp for Android has more than 100,000 installs on Google Play. More than 4,000 users have reviewed the MailChimp app, giving it an average of 4.2 stars. MailChimp is available on both Google Play and iTunes.