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5 unexpected ways small businesses can use mobile devices

Pretty much everyone on the planet has a mobile phone today[1]. So if you’re running a business – big or small – you have to run under the assumption that your people are using their phones to get stuff done.

But while a lot gets said about business tools and apps designed specifically for productivity, a lot less gets said about all the unexpected ways people use their phones to get more done.

Here are five.

1. To cut out paper

When you use paper forms, you get bad handwriting, extra costs and a whole lot of extra admin.

Someone needs to fill out the form, then bring it back to the office, then hand it to someone else who has to enter all that information into a computer. It’s soul-sucking work that no one wants to do – and frankly, no one should want to do.

Mobile forms give you an easy way to take the information you’re collecting in the field and send it directly to the computers in your office. Simpler. Cheaper. Neater.

2. To track expenses

If a lot of your people spend their time outside the office, they’ll probably be racking up a lot of expenses that need to be validated when they’re back in the office.

The system for this usually involves someone stapling a receipt to an expense form and a couple of weeks later updating the system with a big old pile of paper.

A better idea? Get your people to take pictures of their receipts with their phones and just email them back to the office. They save time, you save paper.

3. Timesheets on-the-go

If you run a business that accounts for time and materials costs, your people are probably used to doing their timesheets.

No one likes doing their timesheets. But if you either use an app, a website or even a simple document template, you can let them do their timesheets on their train or bus home (rather than in the office).

It’s a small mercy. But for some people (especially parents), a useful one.

4. Interviews on-the-go

If you’re in a service business, chances are you’re doing interviews with customers and stakeholders. You used to need a dictaphone to record those – or rely on people’s bad handwriting and notes to share all that information.

With smartphones, you can record anyone (with their consent) wherever they are. It doesn’t have to be the highest quality sound recording when you’re just using it for internal reasons.

But even if it does need to be high quality, you can still do a pretty good job in the right room.

5. Quizzes for the team

Sometimes the most valuable thing you can do to improve productivity, is to do something explicitly unproductive. Culture matters. And it’s the fun we have at work that helps us through the serious times.

Some teams like to do quizzes to have a bit of light-hearted fun and competition. With mobile devices, you can set up very simple web-based interactive quizzes that automatically keep score for you. It’s a fun thing to do and it takes very little time to set up.

Mobile devices are just an extension of your people

Small businesses win when the smart, talented people in them have the freedom to work the way that works best for them. Mobile devices give your smart, talented people the ability to extend themselves in places they couldn’t have before.

That thing people say about having a super computer in your pocket is true.

But you have to use it right. The good news – there are tons of things you can do with these devices, well beyond the apps.

And with the right people using them, there’s no problem your small business can’t solve.

To find new ways to get more from your mobile devices, see our small business solutions.

[1] http://fortune.com/2018/11/01/global-smartphone-sales-decline-first-time/