Do you ever find yourself wondering if your company is technologically up to date? It’s a common thought among entrepreneurs who strive to stay ahead of the competition and the newest government regulations. What do you need to be ahead of the tech curve? In addition to tax software and email caching apps, you’d better be using one of better fleet management programs, IT security suites, and several others. Here’s a basic list of topics business owners should be thinking about, and some of the latest technology solutions that can get the job done.
If you assume that you can simply delete old emails that arrive in your company’s inbox, think again. Nearly every state, nation, and municipal jurisdiction these days have communications retention laws that strictly govern how companies deal with all incoming messages. That means even smaller organizations need to have some way of storing, organizing, and securing email messages for future review.
This is one of those laws that makes good sense. For legal reasons, it’s always wise to keep correspondence. Even in the pre-computer era, corporations routinely kept copies of all written correspondence in a special file, often off-site in a highly secure location. Sometimes the files were purged every few years, but those old documents often came in very handy when vendors, competitors, or customers sued the company.
Today’s business environment is a bit different. For one thing, the amount of business-related correspondence has exploded now that every employee has their own email account and typically sends and receives multiple messages each day. Plus, storage is easier now that it ever was, as long as you use an IT solution that automatically backs up everyone’s communications in real-time. It’s a matter of choosing a legally compliant application, having your IT team install it, and regularly testing it for accuracy.
Unless your company is one of the few who gets an exemption from the federal law, your truck carrier fleet is subject to the ELD mandate, a federal regulation that’s been around since 2017. The law contains pages of legalese, but the bottom line for most companies is that every truck must contain a compliant ELD, an electronic logging device, to record driver hours. The goal of the law is to cut down on commercial vehicle accidents and keep drivers as safe as possible.
Your company can prevent falling victim to hours-of-service violations as long as you use an ELD compliance solution. Note that not every product out there is legally compliant, so it pays to research any program or software you intend to purchase. The good news is that once you equip your fleets correctly, you won’t have to worry about expensive fines or careless service violations.
Not keeping comprehensive tax records is one of the fastest ways to get in trouble with government regulators. And that’s assuming that you already pay all your tax bills on time and in full. Often, it’s the record-keeping that trips up otherwise well-intentioned owners. Whether you hire a CPA or business lawyer to do your regular filings, it’s up to you to maintain adequate, legally compliant files of past years’ taxation records. In the event of an audit, you’ll need proof of what you paid, when you paid it, and why the amount was due.
Never assume your return preparer maintains all the records you need. Have a discussion with your accountant and find out what you need to retain, how the documents should be stored, and how long they need to be kept. Laws differ by industry and jurisdiction, and also by how large your organization is. Fortunately, you can use a simple tax documents app that stores PDF and other digital versions of every pertinent taxation filing and record.
Unless your business is accounting, it can be a good idea to outsource the payroll function. This is true even if you only have a few employees. When taxation and government regulation is involved, as both are when it comes to payroll, the safest move is to use a program that does the heavy lifting. Yet, even if you outsource the chore, it’s important to maintain detailed payroll records at a secure, in-house location. Several retail applications get the job done and are easy to install and use.
The more employees you have, the more vital it is to have the right technological solution for human resources tasks. Smaller companies typically choose an app that securely holds personnel files. Security is a core component of these programs because worker files contain all sorts of sensitive data, like salary, personal history, disciplinary actions, and performance review reports. Choosing the right software for the purpose is a decision that can have long-term repercussions. For example, it should be a priority to acquire a product that offers reliable security and restricted access control.
CRM: Customer Relationship Management
CRM software is one of the major components of any competitive business these days. The beauty of CRM solutions is that they do a lot of things very well and don’t break the bank. That means even smaller, budget-strapped organizations can purchase an app that can identify sales prospects, store every relevant piece of customer information, record all kinds of issues, manage small or large promotional campaigns, and organize valuable data about customer inquiries and interactions. You have several ways to go when you decide to implement a customer relationship management solution. You can opt for a stand-alone product that you can configure yourself and operate on an in-house basis. Or, choose a cloud-based service for which you pay a regular fee, which is often based on the size of your customer base or the menu of software functions.
Do You Need It All?
Chances are that startups and younger organizations won’t need to use every conceivable form of business technology. However, it’s important to remember that as an entity grows, the demand for more and more automation and tech will increase, as a result of new government regulations, fresh industry standards, and competitive demands.