4 Tools To Help You Make Better Business Decisions

As a small business owner, you might be tempted to make critical business decisions based on gut feelings, your entrepreneurial instincts, and even wild guesses. While this is great when it comes to starting a new business and making a name for yourself to begin with, this strategy seldom works over the long-term basis.

Instead, try to take advantage of all the tools available in order to make the best possible decision. Here are four of them:

Project Management

The value of project management in the 21st century cannot be stressed enough. After all, the role of the project management professional was created as a dedicated resource to the job of long-term project management.

Capterra, a website that provides thorough reviews of business-oriented software, has ranked Microsoft Project as the most popular project management software in use today. This should come as no surprise as the application currently boasts more than 22 million users worldwide.

Originally introduced in the 1980s, Microsoft Project has been updated and refined throughout the years in order to accommodate current business needs and evolving technological capabilities. The software can help you create new projects, establish project-specific deliverables, define individual phases or activities, monitor project duration, assign resources, supervise project teams and much more.

Predictive Analytics

Predictive analytics, as the phrase suggests, is the process of using past data to forecast future trends, occurrences and events that might be impactful to your business. To this extent, many small businesses and enterprises have already started using predictive analytics to plan new and upcoming projects, to assess the profitability of new concepts and even to identify any potential issues during production or roll-out.

While you may know IBM's Watson supercomputer as the first non-human contestant on the popular game show "Jeopardy," Watson actually has a pertinent use in the world of predictive analytics. By using various advanced technologies, including cloud computing and data exploration, Watson Analytics, as their consumer-level incarnation is known, can complement your business decisions in areas you never even imagined. Furthermore, a free trial is available for those who would like to try out Watson Analytics before committing to a purchase.

Data Visualization

The process of data visualization has also helped key decision-makers in a variety of ways. Whereas such information was once confined to multi-page spreadsheets and monotonous reports, business owners can now use advanced software to display this data through computer-generated imagery. Not only does this simplify the process of comparing and contrasting figures or statistics, but it also presents the data in a manner that is easily interpreted by all levels of your staff.

Moreover, the use of modern data visualization tools can produce real, quantifiable results. Map Business Online reports that 77 percent of companies saw an improvement in company decision making through the strategic use of current data visualization tools. Another 45 percent of respondents experienced an improvement in the skills of their analysts while 44 percent saw increased collaboration amongst teammates.

Some software's, such as SAS Visual Analytics, were made specifically with big data visualization in mind. This application offers a number of different graphs and data maps that are capable of displaying information in full color, and it can even integrate with programs such as Microsoft Office and SharePoint to bolster team-based collaboration.

Board of Directors

In some cases, implementing a dedicated Board of Directors to assist with critical business decisions is the best choice. Although such groups may be seen as antiquated, unnecessary or overly complicated, software tools of today give you more freedom and control over the process than ever before.

Board Management's Board Portal Software, for example, is a comprehensive solution that offers a complete board directory, event calendar, online file sharing and an open platform for group-oriented discussions. The software can even keep track of meeting minutes, thus freeing up additional resources within your business. Moreover, the fact that Board Management's Board Portal Software works on desktop PCs, laptop computers, and mobile devices provides greater flexibility when it comes to participating in conversations, replying to messages and accessing event reminders.

It can be overwhelming trying to keep track of the details to make important business decisions. There are tools to help, though, and these four are just the start. Find what works for you, and you’ll be on your way to more efficient operations.

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