Replicating the F500 Back Office: 10 Things Every Small Business Should Buy (F500 Handbook)

Updated: February 12, 2010

Here are 10 tools that any size business can use to build out a Fortune 500 back office:

  1. Payroll Processing - Often thought of as a tactical function that simply allows a business to pay employees, HR can take on strategic importance when you think about how important it is to hire and retain world class talent in the early days of a business. Get payroll wrong and you will have unhappy employees, guaranteed. You can and should outsource payroll processing to someone who knows the ins and outs of a fairly arcane topic. There are a variety of options here from market leading incumbents like ADP to upstarts like PayCycle (now part of Intuit).
  2. Telephony - Voice communication is critical to the success of any size business. Now, full featured phone systems are available to the small business community via hosted options from vendors like Vocalocity and 8x8. Even advanced call center automation is now available to businesses of all sizes with services like FonGenie.
  3. IT Infrastructure - There are a range of information technology investments you should make. You will, of course, need a suite of personal productivity tools and applications which are now widely available from the likes of Microsoft and relative newcomer Google Apps. Less obvious investments that you should consider include a back-up system for your mission critical data. Options here vary: for Windows users, there's Mozy Pro; Apple has the straightforward, intuitive Time Machine; or you can get a little more advanced with something built on Amazon S3. The list of IT investments goes on… from security, to internet connectivity, to storage and virtualization.
  4. Accounting Software - While not every business requires a full feature financial management solution, you should adopt an accounting package that handles basic functions such as general ledger, accounts payable, and accounts receivable. And it's best to invest in a package that will provide more advanced capabilities such later, as your business grows. QuickBooks is the clear market leader in this space, but other vendors like NetSuite may be more appropriate if your business is growing rapidly.
  5. Capital - While the current economic climate certainly makes it harder for small businesses to access capital, it's certainly possible for businesses to more capital efficient than ever. Moreover, there are new models emerging such as peer to peer lending from websites like Prosper that provide businesses with easier access to capital.
  6. Benefits - Employees now value and expect benefits to be a common part of their compensation packages. You should consider medical, dental, and 401(K) options as standard benefits that your employees will expect (note though that you should not be expected to match 401(K) contributions by employees). Companies like Trinet can manage the entire benefits process for you.
  7. Marketing - It used to be that building and running a world class marketing organization required lots of money and people. Now, there are plenty of lightweight, de-risked marketing solutions available to small businesses that help with both branding and demand generation. Google is the most obvious of these, but plenty of other efficient options exist, including from companies like Facebook.
  8. Website - Almost every business has a website now. While many are still stuck in the realm of brochure-ware, there are a variety of tools available for building out enterprise-class functionality such as Shopify, for building out e commerce functionality, and Bazaarvoice, for building out community features.
  9. Conferencing - Online conferencing solutions now provide small businesses with the geographic reach that used to be the exclusive domain of Fortune 500 travel budgets. Citrix, WebEx, and Adobe all provide low cost, enterprise class options for conducting online meetings with prospects, partners, and remote employees.
  10. Industry Specific Software - Depending upon what type of business you run, you will want to make an investment in software that automates the most complex aspect of your operations. For example, if you are a "supply-dependent" business and want to spend less more efficiently, enterprise class procurement solutions are now available to small businesses from vendors like Coupa. If your business requires personal interaction with prospects and customers, you will want to invest in CRM software from the likes of Salesforce.com or Microsoft Dynamics.
Featured Research
  • Contact Center Implementation Best Practices

    Are you looking to add a contact center for your business but not quite sure of how to go about implementing one? You aren't alone, in fact, getting a modern contact center up and running efficiently and effectively is much more difficult than it was even five to ten years ago. more

  • Business Meeting Showdown

    It is no secret that communication and collaboration are at the heart of success and longevity for any business. However, as businesses become more global and more employees work remotely, video conferencing is being increasingly used as an alternative to face-to-face interactions. There are pros to both business travel and video conferencing such as personal connection and ease of use. However, there are cons as well ranging from travel delays to being technologically reliant. more

  • Mobile Communication Showdown

    It's no secret that businesses are becoming agiler and employees are spending more time away from their desks. The question isn't should we get rid of our landlines, but how quickly can we replace them?However, staying connected with your colleagues, clients, and customers is absolutely essential for cultivating long-term, lucrative relationships that will help your company achieve success. more

  • Signs you are Ready for Mobile BI

    With workforces moving more and more mobile on a daily basis, it is essential to ensure that your company is able to arm your employees with the analytics that they need to succeed. 89% of business leaders believe that Big Data will revolutionize business operations in the same way that the internet did. These numbers show the trend towards investing in a BI system. more

  • 15 Ways to Optimize Your Contact Center

    We live in a time where customer experience is seen as an important competitive differentiator. Given this, wouldn't you like to make sure that your contact center is fully optimized to meet your business needs? Deciding to upgrade and optimize your contact center is a big step, and one that shouldn't be done without due diligence and plenty of research. more