Top Software for Running your Business
by Anna Khrupa on Jun 2, 2022
It is hardly possible to imagine any business running without any specific software to help manage it. Even the smallest possible one-man business has to at least file the taxation reports and while preparing them manually is fairly complicated, normally, some accounting software is used.
As the business grows, the demand for business management software also grows as the more tasks you have, the more difficult it is to keep doing them manually. From basic ones like keeping track of b2b leads, tracking tasks, invoicing customers to more complicated ones like keeping track of goods for sale kept in-store and ordering them in time to avoid shortages – all this requires specific software.
Initially, the businesses get away with emails and some templates for text documents and spreadsheets, then start involving specialized tools for specific tasks, but there is a better way to automate and manage many tasks from single business software.
These are some indicators that some unified solution has to be incorporated:
- Your employees spend too much time doing routine tasks.
- It becomes difficult to get relevant information quickly to make urgent decisions.
- There are too many software tools in use that cannot be united into a single system; data cannot be easily synced or exported from one tool to another.
- There is no accurate and timely information on stock, cash flow, and such.
- Invoices and other accounting documents take too long to be produced.
- Sales and all interactions with clients are becoming very difficult software-wise.
- Different departments have a great deal of trouble passing information between them.
- The control over employees’ activities is fairly weak.
Versatile tools any business uses
Whether you’re running a one-man operation or a large corporation, there always would be typical tasks your business needs to accomplish regularly. It might be tempting to use a tool for each one as they all promise to bring in simplicity and best practices, but as their number grows, it becomes unmanageable. This is where business management software is a good alternative to consider.
Initially affordable to only large corporations, such tools become more and more used in smaller businesses now to manage tasks, run finance, predict risks, and improve efficiency.
Some tools are being used by almost any size business and we will explore such software below to spot the best solutions leaders in each niche.
Tools that work with Kanban Approach
Workflow management in Kanban is organized with cards for each task and moving them across the board with different statuses, from very basic versions of “to-do”, “in progress”, and “finished” to more complex variations involving different status systems, personal assignments, color codes, etc. Kanban management tools offer genuine easiness to grasp the situation at a glance and quick identification of bottlenecks.
Jira – best for IT companies
Jira is a project management and issue resolution management tool with Kanban ideology in mind. It is one of the favorite tools in the IT world but is fully suitable for other industries. It features both desktop and mobile versions, so you can work remotely or on the go.
Apart from Kanban, it supports Agile/Scrum ideologies and roadmaps thus it’s extremely popular among IT companies from around the world.
Pricing: Jira is free for up to 10 users but the free version has a smaller set of features: just 2GB storage capacity and community support only. The commercial pricing begins at $70 a month (for up to 10 users).
Trello – the easiest onboarding ever
It is arguably the easiest Kanban tool to grasp and potentially the most widespread thus it usually doesn’t require onboarding since many users have touched it in the past.
It offers a very intuitive interface and full customization of boards and cards.
There is a large set of possible integrations (called “Power-Ups”) with other software like Slack or Google Drive. You can also set up IFTTT automation to avoid unnecessary distractions. However, it does require a lot of understanding of how other tools work to set these integrations properly and get a perfectly working system.
It lacks time-tracking or expense-tracking mechanisms, but this issue can be also solved through third-party “Power-Ups”
Pricing: There is a free version, as well as Business and Enterprise solutions. Free usage includes max.10 open boards, one Power-Up, standard backgrounds, and 50 command runs per month. Trello Business Class starts with $10 per user and provides unlimited boards, Power-Ups, advanced checklists, domain-restricted invites, and many other features. Trello Enterprise is a pricing plan for big companies that need reporting tools on all boards, special admin dashboard, and other extra features.
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Odoo – the best open-source Kanban tool
Odoo is similar to the other mentioned solutions, offering typical Kanban workflows, a wide set of functions but with one big difference – it’s open-source. If you have any creative idea of what you would want to do with Kanban ideology, you hire someone with Python skills and it’s done. That gives you great freedom of customizing the tool for your needs.
Pricing: starts with $14 per user per month, the price depends on the modules you want to use.
Monday.com – the most customizable software
Monday is priding itself today as a Work OS (operating system) which is an open claim that it can do any kinds of work from project management to CRM, and it’s still a powerful Kanban tool, too since it was at its roots.
It provides many ways to customize just anything, from boards to cards, and has some extra features like attaching files to cards, commenting, mentioning colleagues, etc.
Another differentiating point is that it offers a variety of views; instead of a typical board, you can see the tasks as a list, a map, a table, and in other ways.
There are also plenty of integrations available with other software like Google Calendar or Dropbox.
Pricing: starts with $24 for up to 3 users, and there is a free trial. There is no free version, though the pricing page mentions potential discounts or free versions for qualifying students or non-profits.
ClickUp – the best tool for deep project management
ClickUp is a Kanban tool with a lot of further diving into project management. Apart from all typical Kanban ways of managing tasks, it offers subtasks, scheduled tasks, in-app chat for expedited communication between team members, timelines, and Gantt charts which are normally a part of more complex project management suites.
It also sports integrations with much other typical software like G Suite or Dropbox.
Pricing: starts with $5 per user with a free trial, and there is also a free plan available with a set of features that can be quite enough to start with.
MeisterTask – best for automation of tasks
MeisterTask is a Kanban tool with the best-developed automation among others. While it has all the typical functionalities, it also offers a lot of automation some other solutions may be lagging behind on: recurring tasks, predefined checklists, advanced notifications to different recipients, etc.
There are also advanced permission and role management for larger companies and in-depth analytics/insights reports that are quite useful.
Like the other tools, MeisterTask comes with integrations with the most popular software like Slack, Microsoft Teams, Zendesk, and many others.
Pricing: starts from $8.25 per month per user; there is also a free plan and apparently no open free trial (it has to be requested).
Best CRMs (Customer Relationship Management)
CRM development companies create systems to handle customer relationships. They keep all the information regarding contacts with customers, help sales managers easily record new events like sales calls or presentations, track the customer status across the sales funnel, and also provide relevant reporting to the management on sales activities and performance. There is a great number of CRMs from very basic to large systems with huge functionalities that need to be set up by special CRM software developers sometimes. We will discuss here some typical CRM options from market leaders that most likely will fit the needs of any size companies.
Salesforce – the best all-around solution
Salesforce is the CRM market leader for a reason. It offers a great variety of tools and customizations from the dashboard to quite advanced analytics and the use of AI. The only downside is that some small businesses claim it is difficult for them to install and set up the system (you will need to hire a Salesforce programmer), and the reviews point out that getting to talk to a Salesforce representative is very hard.
Pricing: starts from $25 per month per person but can grow to up to $300 per user per month for more advanced pricing tiers offering more features.
Hubspot – versatile CRM for small business
Hubspot is a full-featured CRM that is very easy to start working with. It offers a lot of free tools and the pricing model is based entirely on the number of marketing contacts, not the users within the system. Still, if you want to set all the processes properly, you may need to hire a Hubspot developer since it’s quite a complicated system.
Pricing: starts with a free plan and yes, it is quite OK to start working. The paid tariff plans start from $45 per month for 1000 marketing contacts. However, it might get pricey if you have a large user database – the price for 10,000 marketing contacts is $3,200 per month. What seems like a great start for small businesses with a free pricing plan or $45 per month, may end up not so well for large volumes.
PipeDrive – best for small b2b sales teams
It is a very intuitive and easy-to-use solution, but it’s focused on a deal-based flow. It may not be well applicable for other sales scenarios or larger teams requiring more advanced functionalities.
Pricing: there is no free plan, the price starts from $12.50 per user per month and up to $49.90 for the most advanced tariff.
Bitrix – great free starter pack
Bitrix offers a great starting package where you get quite a lot for free, from basic CRM features to serious automation and email marketing integrations.
The only drawback is that the array of available functionalities can be a bit overcomplicated for rookie users, and many complain in the reviews about its not-so-easy interface.
Still, if you can grasp it, you can go a long way with a team of 12.
Pricing: there is a very robust free plan for 12 users and $159 per month for an unlimited number of team members.
Odoo – versatile open-source CRM
Odoo CRM is a no-surprises typical CRM solution with one great difference. It is based on open-source code on Python meaning anyone with good Python skills can inspect the code, prove its security, and add new features of any complexion.
With more than 5 million uses in the database, it can reward itself with the title of #1 open-source CRM.
Pricing: starts from $15 per month per user.
Top ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) Solutions
Let’s start with understanding what an ERP system is. Companies often find themselves spending much time handling integration or data exports between different systems like CRMs, accounting, project management, stock level control tools, and many more. ERP systems are designed to combat this. They’re like jack-of-all-trades for business management software, and they typically also include the tools discussed above – the CRMs and Kanban tools.
The main advantages of moving to ERP are:
- Standardization of systems and processes. Instead of using a myriad of tools, you need to get used to just one that typically has similar interfaces across all sections. While some of your company’s processes can be built around the available software, the ERP can streamline that and simplify a lot.
- Compliance and security. ERPs are extensive software products designed to be used by large corporations. Every market leader ERP is developed with the best compliance practices and provides relevant security measures.
- Flexibility. All top ERPs incorporate cloud and mobile options that allow working from anywhere. Remote work, mobile devices, accessing information from anywhere – it is all in the cores of all ERPs.
As probably in every software sphere, there are huge and expensive ERPs for corporations as well as smaller open-source options, affordable and still capable of doing a lot in the ERP space.
Still, there’s one thing to note about proprietary ERP pricing. Understanding it is a headache. Instead of clear and transparent pricing, they prefer to send you to their implementation consultants who will give you a custom quote based on their understanding of your needs. It is a grey area where there are subscription costs, implementation costs, training costs, data migration costs, and custom ERP development costs. While we did our best to dig out their pricing information when possible, the best way to compare their pricing is to apply for quotes for specifically your company.
SAP – the best ERP for large businesses
If there is a solution to be called a mother of all ERPs, it is SAP. The company was founded in 1972, which now seems like the Jurassic era when the computers were of the size of the room, and the punch cards were still in use.
SAP is an all-around solution offering a wide variety of modules for any area of the business. Supply chain, accounting, HR, you name it – and SAP gets you covered. It’s aimed primarily at large businesses with yearly revenues of more than $1 billion.
Pricing: SAP doesn’t disclose pricing on its website, asking instead to apply to its implementation consultants who will offer a customized solution and custom price, but online sources tell that its Starter Package for small businesses and startups may start from $39 per month per user and grow as the functionalities are added.
Oracle ERP – finance-focused ERP
Oracle is the main competitor of SAP and the two are established market leaders. Functionality-wise Oracle is also a module-based, extensively developed system, ready to meet the challenges of the largest companies. Its strength is in its finance-related modules. Everything about accounting, pricing, and budgeting are more flexible in Oracle.
Pricing: it starts with $175 per month for the Financial Reporting module and grows as the other modules are added. There is research showing that the total cost of ownership (TCO) of Oracle ERP is 48% less than that of SAP.
NetSuite by Oracle – best for medium-sized businesses
NetSuite is like a smaller sister of the Oracle ERP aimed at medium-sized businesses. It has generally the same set of functions and modules as the bigger one, and it is also very strong in the finance department.
Pricing: it starts with $999 per month for the base license + $99 per user per month.
Odoo – open-source, powerful, and affordable
Odoo is a very modular if not granular suite of applications. It includes many modules for every angle of the organization – project management, billing, accounting, inventory management, manufacturing, and sales. If you check their pricing page you’ll see an array of modules to choose from right now according to your needs which can be extended as your needs grow.
Many ERPs can look very complex inside with their interface reminiscent of an airplane cockpit. Odoo has a very simplistic interface, similar to that of Google Drive when you see everything on one screen and can easily understand what to do.
You can download the system or its source code from GitHub, it is licensed as LGPLv3. For more customization, you can always order Odoo development services that won’t cost you much.
Pricing: starts with $15 per user per month and grows as you add the modules you need.
What Is So Special About Odoo?
Odoo was earlier known as OpenERP and is a professional ERP platform. Companies all over the world actively use it, and the software is constantly updated by its creators.
The main features of Odoo are:
- Modular structure. You get extraordinary functionality right out of the box and can switch on and off modules as needed.
- Quick start. Initial installation and setup can take less than a day. This certainly doesn’t include modifying document templates or developing new functionality.
- Open source code. Odoo is developed on Python and this means that the core of the platform and all additions can be audited to make sure there are no surprises. This increases security for clients and simplicity for the Odoo developers that can easily add functions or change some existing functionality.
- Interface with web users in mind. Odoo allows connecting all depts to ERP regardless of how they work in-office, remotely, from mobile devices, etc.
- All company management processes are integrated. This allows keeping all management reporting in one place.
Benefits of Open-Source Software
While some think of open-source software as something not-so-serious, there is a number of great benefits of going open-source:
- Transparency: anyone can view the code and audit it.
- Easier development: you can hire an ERP or CRM software developer to quickly add the new functionality required and that won’t cost you much.
- Security and reliability: because of the above, any threats or bugs become quickly known, identified, and fixed.
- Freedom from lock-in: in most proprietary software, your data stays within the system. Should you migrate to another system, it is either very hard or sometimes impossible to migrate the data. With open-source programs, it is always possible to export data or quickly design some data exporting tool.
What is open source ERP?
Open-source ERP software is accessible to anyone and managed by the community. Despite often being talked down, the open-source ERPs are amazingly full-featured and offer quite a set of functionalities that is a great fit for most users.
However, have in mind that both open-source and proprietary solutions may require coding/development skills to be implemented for some of your specialized tasks which are not covered in the out-of-the-box solution. Probably, you’ll need to hire an ERP development specialist (for example, and Odoo developer) to expand the functionality.
We recommend you studying all the options from this article intensively and applying to their pre-sale consultants to clarify any questions you might have.
So, What to Choose – Proprietary vs Open-Source Software
There is always a discussion of what is better – open-source solutions or out-of-the-box proprietary products. It is important to understand that with proprietary systems you end up with what you got, and while there are some allowed customizations, you cannot do more than they offer.
Open-source products also offer the convenience of being ready-made, i.e. they’re ready for implementation as soon as they’re installed. But its open-source nature allows any customizations provided there are some coding skills available.
In this case, Odoo ERP/CRM software is practically a marvel. A very robust and functional solution with at-a-glance, transparent, easiest to grasp pricing makes it the champion among others. You get a world-class ERP/CRM system, easily scalable, customizable to the indefinite level. Not to mention the Odoo development services are times less expensive than hiring Oracle/SAP developers.
As a rule, the choice of business management software comes down to the scale of your company and the specific tasks that you want to cover. We hope that this article helped you at least a little to understand the whole abundance of systems for automating business processes, and you are on your way to install a suitable solution!
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