Want some recommendations for must-have programs that your business needs? Well, that’s exactly what we’ve got here – to be precise, six of the best business apps going, in our humble opinion of course.
We’ve included some more reasonably priced applications – and indeed one free effort – as well as pricier heavyweight pieces of software. So whether you’re an SMB with a tight budget, or a bigger company with more resources, you should find something to pique your interest here.
Microsoft Office 365 Home Premium (£80 per year)
As far as we’re concerned, Office 365 trounces the competition from Google Docs, and is far more advanced than anything else available for Windows. We still use Corel’s WordPerfect for some tasks that Word handles in an annoying way – for example, clearing out formatting styles applied to documents by OCR software – and I'm still impressed by the innovative graphic dazzle of Apple's Pages, Numbers, and Keynote, which, of course, exist only on OS X and iOS.
However, Microsoft Office has been our top pick in desktop office suites for as long as we can remember, and with the release of Office 365 it claimed the crown for cloud-based office suites, too. See our full review here.
QuickBooks Online Essentials (£13 per month)
QuickBooks has always been our favourite piece of accounting software, and the efforts Intuit has made to smooth out the interface in recent versions have very much been appreciated. The result is a quality suite which is easy to use. You can also get subscribe to an entry-level Simple Start plan for half the price of Online Essentials, should your accounting needs be very basic.
Salesforce.com Profession Edition (£45 per user per month)
The definitive leader in CRM software, Salesforce.com Professional Edition has plenty to offer a small business. Because it's a cloud service, there are no upfront costs needed to deploy on-premise hardware and software. The Professional Edition is rather pricey, but it is a mature and robust CRM platform for SMBs that’s second-to-none. Informative Dashboard views, integration with social networking and customisable reports are key features that make up a collaborative and productive CRM environment.
FileMaker Pro 13 (£287)
Version 13 brings more than 50 new features into the FileMaker ecosystem, which includes FileMaker Pro, Advanced, and FileMaker Server. FileMaker always delivers a beautiful aesthetic to database design, and now the new features lend tighter security and the ability to create uber web-friendly custom apps. Indeed, FileMaker reigns supreme when it comes to building beautiful custom apps for non-programmers. FileMaker Pro 13 is a great solution, and it scooped up one of our Best Buy awards when we reviewed it recently.
LogMeIn Central (£33 per month)
If you run a business and need to periodically (or even regularly) access remote computers, you'll want to check out LogMeIn Central. Central is a web-based management solution for remotely accessing and monitoring machines. It’s not a cheap solution, but it effectively provides remote management of both PCs and Macs. LogMeIn Central uses AES 256-bit encryption for the connection between host and client, and creates charts and reports on managed, remotely accessed client machines. Note that you can save money by committing to paying annually, as you’ll be charged £199 per year (half the price of a monthly subscription).
Spiceworks is a great tool for monitoring and troubleshooting small-to-midsize networks, and perhaps the best bit is it’s free. It can pinpoint problematic scenarios like bottlenecks or bandwidth issues. For even more detailed troubleshooting, Spiceworks will collect and centrally display all Windows Event logs from all PCs within a network.