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Essential Software for Administrative Professionals

Essential Software for Administrative ProfessionalsTechnology-based companies and software production firms are ever-growing businesses. How efficiently would the office run without many of the software suites we use each day that make the day-to-day business operations run smoothly? Whether you’re planning business trips, coordinating fundraising projects, balancing budgets, or working on special projects, there are a few essential software programs that have become favorites among business offices and corporate staff.

Virtual teams across global offices are the norm among large corporations whose business operations and project team members may well be in different cities, states or countries. Global office personnel depend on technology to bring the pieces of the global offices together. Leading software developers continue to aim toward productivity enhancing software and software developed with the purpose of encouraging collaboration on team projects in mind. There are also quite a few programs that encourage a greener environment by streamlining files into a paperless system. Network database systems replace paper files, and ultimately reduce clutter as well as storage cost.

Random office personnel, executives, and managers were asked about the software they rely on the most in their busy offices and the features and functionality that make their jobs easier. Here are a few of the most essential business productivity software programs.

OneNote – Microsoft Office’s OneNote is an electronic notebook storage system that keeps notes and information pertaining to individual projects in one place. The software behaves very similarly to storing stacks of paper in manila folders or securing notes in three-ring binders. Instead of using actual storage systems, OneNote creates system notebooks to contain information related to the project. Whether you’re planning an annual seminar or routine meeting, the agendas, tasks lists, and notes for that event can be organized into virtual tabs in the software’s electronic notebooks. Assistants raved about using OneNote when helping the executives in the office prepare for business travel by setting up a notebook with sections for the travel itinerary, conference agendas, meeting notes, and travel-related expenses.

SharePoint – SharePoint is an internet database repository that many firms use to share information with their employees. Policies, procedure manuals, and corporate reports can be uploaded into a restricted access site and viewed by those with an appropriate need to do so. Uploading documents into SharePoint lessens the need to send large attachments to employees by email and decrease the possibility of overloaded email servers.  When a document stored on SharePoint requires revisions from multiple users, those users can check out the document from the SharePoint library and make changes, making the document unavailable for other users until the current user returns it to the library. This feature replaces the cumbersome task of compiling edits from multiple users. Once editing is complete, the updated version becomes available to all who have access to the SharePoint account. In addition to document uploads, employees use the software’s calendar management function for everything from meeting schedules to managing the usage of a dedicated conference room. SharePoint’s conversation features, encouraging communication about the items contained in the account.

Microsoft Access – Access is a background application that can be used to create specialized databases for monitoring purchases, sales, inventory, and much more. The look and functionality of each database is completely up to the developer and depends on how the company plans to use it. A manager noted that her IT department used Access to create several databases that integrate personnel records with sales projections. Her database made it easy to calculate bonuses and raises for her employees. Her database has customized functionality that interfaces other programs her office uses for convenient migration of data between programs.

Filemaker ProFilemaker Pro is a document management system with options to create cross-system databases. Using built-in templates, users can customize databases that suit their data needs with the option to run a variety of reports, incorporating graphs and charts into the reports for added presentation. Very similar to Access, Filemaker Pro interfaces with common software programs such as Microsoft Office and reports can be integrated into Excel spreadsheets for easy file sharing.

SnagIt – Have you ever wanted to print a webpage and have the printed version look the way it does on the computer screen, without the annoying frames that affects the way the page is printed? What if you wanted to send a screenshot of an image on your computer without the image being distorted? SnagIt is an image-capture software that allows you to lift portions of images and combine them with others or create files from screenshots on your computer. A project manager uses the software to incorporate presentation packages that include printed webpages of the company’s executive staff. He’s able to include images and logos into his packages without including the web address in the header or footer of the printout. An IT manager finds SnagIt to be helpful in creating instruction manuals for his staff.  

Dropbox – Users who routinely work on multiple computers and mobile devices see the advantages of being able to access their desktop documents through Dropbox. An executive spoke of the benefits of the software by saying he uses Dropbox to view documents on his tablet while at the airport or in his hotel room. His assistant creates his files and he can access them from multiple locations by logging into his Dropbox account.  A syncing process can be enabled to update files on all computers without the need to save and replace older documents. Many executives rely on others to coordinate various parts of complex travel itineraries. Instead of worrying about whether or not all portions of the itinerary are copied to various locations, the files sync automatically.

Yammer – While many organizations cringe at the idea of employees spending valuable work time on social networking sites, there are other firms that use those sites as a means of streamlining communication to employees. Those organizations realize that the desire to be a part of popular social media crazes like Facebook and Twitter will not likely disappear in the near future. So those organizations are joining the bandwagon and launching social networking accounts and posting non-confidential for public viewing.
Firms embrace the idea of a social networking site that allows employees within the corporation to share information in a professional atmosphere. Yammer was developed with corporations in mind and allows employees to follow other employees and share valuable information with one another.

These are only a few of the most popular software suites currently being used in business offices. While some of the software packages are similar in the functionality, each office professional has customized preferences for what works best for his or her level of productivity.

Charlene Kesee is employed by the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas and is a member of the IAAP West Houston Chapter. She has been a freelance writer for several local and national newspapers and magazines.