Meet the Well-Rounded Office PC

With the right combination of quality hardware and useful software applications, today's office PC can handle almost any business function.

What's more important: keeping your budget in check or having great applications that boost productivity?

Trick question! You can do both, thanks to these affordable business tools for your office PC.

Accounting and Finance

Every business needs sharp financial savvy; sometimes, that can come in the form of a great application. The trick to choosing affordable accounting software is buying only as much as you need. Plenty of packages on the market boast tons of features. But if you're not going to use all that functionality, you're spending too much. Boost productivity with an appropriately sized application for your business.

Example: QuickBooks Pro 2012, a wildly popular program that you can set up quickly and learn with ease. Organize your business finances, get records together for taxes, create invoices and integrate with spreadsheet program Microsoft Excel.

Small Business Packages

When it comes to operations, small and microsized businesses comprising 10–20 employees have very specific needs. Look for software packages that specifically mention phrases like “small businesses” or “SMBs” and include features like design options, document preparation, calendar organization and billing functions.

Example: Small Business Advantage 3, an affordable package of tools that allows companies to write an employee handbook, create a logo, design business cards and more.

Antivirus Security and Identity Protection

When viruses or hackers get into a system, productivity grinds to a halt. On the other hand, an overzealous antivirus program can be just as annoying if it’s constantly running security checks that interfere with an employee’s workflow. A well-rounded PC must have strong protection that can work in the background without affecting processing speed or business operations. When choosing an application, look for one that addresses a range of areas — e.g., phishing, new downloads, online shopping — rather than one that focuses on just one potential threat area.

Example: Norton 360, v5.0 provides a wealth of security functions, including virus scanning, application-performance alerts, new-file analysis and even a social-media scanner that identifies threats on sites like Facebook.

Office Productivity Suite

It's possible to cobble together several applications that separately address spreadsheets, word processing, email and other basic business functions. But if all of these applications are in one package, they'll work much better together. Preventing compatibility problems will increase productivity and streamline simple business tasks.

Example: Microsoft Office Professional 2010 is useful because it bundles many popular business applications, such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneNote.

Customer Relationship Management

Customized marketing campaigns and organized client contacts make customer relationship management (CRM) a powerful part of any business strategy. With CRM, companies can boost sales-team effectiveness and communicate better with customers — both of which can lead to higher revenues and growth.

Example: Sales and Marketing Pro, a suite with a robust CRM tool, marketing strategy tips, client organization capability and sales forecasting.

In general, a well-rounded office PC is much like a well-rounded entrepreneur: loaded with varied skills, stocked with plenty of knowledge and limber enough to adapt to the ever-changing business climate.

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