In-depth

Best business software tools

We round up the best accounting, time and project management, conference calling and email tools for your business

If you're running a small business, you'll need to equip yourself with the tools to help you run that business more efficiently, whether that's keeping on top of your accounting, time, emails or projects, or you simply want to make it easier for your staff to join conference calls and collaborate.

Although there are plenty of apps across these categories that will make your life simpler and improve your productivity, here's our pick of the best of the best that we think will make a huge difference to your life.

Accounting: Intuit QuickBooks

Intuit Quickbooks puts your business's accounts at your fingertips instantly, integrating with your bank account, allowing you to invoice and view when invoices have been viewed, track mileage and see exactly how much you've earned and paid out in one place.

You can categorise expenses, although Quickbooks makes an easy job of that, automatically sorting transactions according to what it thinks they're for and also, any payments coming into your account too.

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You can view a multitude of reports, including how much tax will be likely owed based upon your income and outgoings and it'll even create a handy profit and loss sheet for easy reference!

Cost: From 2.99/month for self-employed product

Time management: Toggl

We've been using Toggl for a few weeks now and it's completely changed the way we track our time. It's available as a basic desktop client on Mac and Windows, as well as a smartphone app for Android and iOS, which allows you to log your time and quickly assign tasks to clients and projects.

The web interface is much more in-depth, allowing you to colour code your projects, view and download reports and view business intelligence based upon how you spend your time in the premium version. You can use the timer to track your time as you're working on a project or add time manually and if you're happy to pay for the premium version, you can also assign costs to every minute of your time.

Cost: From free

Project management: Trello

Whether you're working on multiple projects at any one time or you just need to keep track of what you're doing in your business, Trello is a top project management tool.

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It features a simple drag and drop interface to make it super-simple to track your progress. Once you've completed a task within a project,you can just simply move it to the next column.

You can assign cards (tasks) and columns to certain people in your team, so they'll get a notification when anything changes and with a huge array of integrations with services such as Google Drive, Slack, GitLab and more, you can make sure everything's working in perfect harmony to supercharge your business's productivity.

Cost: From free

Email: Mailbird

If you want to make your day more productive, you'll need to find an email client that allows you to manage your incoming and outgoing mail more effectively. Although the likes of Outlook and Mail are great free tools, we recommend you download Mailbird to make things even more organised.

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Customised workspaces mean you can set up Mailbird to be exactly as you need it to be to make your life easier, while integrations with Dropbox, Google Docs, Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp and a huge number of other services ensure you can keep on top of other tools from one place too.

If you have multiple email accounts, you can manage them all from one interface here, although one of the flaws of Mailbird is that it's only available on Windows, so Mac and mobile users are left a little out in the cold.

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Cost: From free non-commercial use) or $1 a month

Conference calls: RingCentral Office

Although we could have praised the merits of Skype for Business here if you just need a simple conference calling tool to make and take voice or video calls in, we would be doing you a disservice if we didn't include RingCentral.

It's by far the most reliable, full-service conference calling tool you'll probably ever come across and the cost is minimal compared to some, much more established brands. Standard features such as unlimited conference calling, fax, business SMS, and mobile and desktop unified messaging apps with HD video conferencing are all supported, alongside Microsoft Office integration, call logging, and team collaboration tools.

We're a big fan because it integrates with so many other services, including those your business develops itself via its API.

Cost: From $19.99/month/user

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