These days, running a business from your iPad, or any tablet for that matter, is not only possible, but advantageous in certain cases. You can keep the books, handle human resources and write memos, provided you have the right apps installed. Even for large organizations, a tablet can serve most purposes. It’s only necessary to go back to a larger computer for very specialized functions — and more of those are becoming available in app form every day. It’s rapidly become the perfect option for a manager or an owner who is always in motion.
But there are certain considerations you need to take into account before you embrace the tablet wholeheartedly. None of these are game-stoppers, but they do need to be addressed to ensure your business can function correctly.
The biggest consideration for tablet-based operations is security. You need to do some due diligence and make sure the apps you choose are secure before installing them on a tablet. How do they store your data? Convene, for instance, has a secure document server that can keep documents safe from prying eyes even if someone accidentally leaves an iPad on a plane. Do some research into how to protect your tablet and how to use it securely.
Tablet to Computer Connections
Depending on your business, there will probably be at least a few members of your organization who don’t work primarily on tablets. There are certain software packages that aren’t available and certain projects that just aren’t practical. If there’s a full computer sitting somewhere in your office, it’s crucial that you choose applications that will automatically synchronize between your tablet and other devices.
While tablets keep dropping in price, you have to consider cost. Just as you needed to buy software to run on your computer, you’ll need apps for your tablet in order to be able to do all the work you need to complete. In some cases, you may be paying for subscriptions to software, rather than a one-time fee. While it can seem like you’ll wind up paying more for a subscription, it’s important to remember that many of these apps are experiencing continuous development, so you won’t need to buy upgrades. Just the same, run the numbers and set aside a budget for your technology.
Working on an iPad constantly does require a few additional purchases to make the process smooth. If, for instance, you routinely need to write long documents, it’s worth picking up a keyboard that connects to your mobile device, rather than trying to peck out a detailed message on the screen. Other peripherals are coming out; for instance, there are now printers that — with the right app — you can send documents to from your tablet. You don’t need to completely transform the equipment your business needs overnight, but as long as you’re considering what will make you both more effective and more mobile, thinking about your future purchases makes sense.
Synchronization and Integration
Certain tablets work better with other key pieces of technology. If you do have work that requires a more robust computer, that means that you will need to consider how well you tablet of choice will synchronize with your existing computer system. Just about any tablet can be made to work with just about any computer, but there’s the question of how much time and energy you’re willing to put into making it all work. Having all of your technology run on similar operating systems can be the minimum level of making your technology easier to deal with.
While iPads are generally designed with ease of use in mind, there may be some training required for any of your team that you want to move over to a more mobile platform. Training may be particularly necessary when moving a team member to a new operating system or adding a new application to her responsibilities. It isn’t an insurmountable problem, but you do need to budget in time to getting your team up to speed on their new tools.
If your whole team is able to work from any location, you may see a lot less of them in the office. This can be a good thing — sales staff, in particular, tend to be more effective the more time they can actually spend out in the field with prospective customers — but it can also mean that you need to take some steps to make sure that your team is fully aware of your expectations. Even with the best collaboration tools and real-time meeting apps, you have to clearly explain projects and create communication channels that let team members get the same information they might have previously obtained by walking into your office.
Just as you would put a plan in place to make a major upgrade to any piece of equipment your business relies upon, you need a clear plan of action if you are intent on running a business from your iPad. You need to have a budget for how much you’re willing to spend for the conversion, a training system in place for any employees who will be using new-to-them technology and a system in place to protect your company’s sensitive data from anyone who should have access.
With this sort of approach, you can deal with the potential problems long before they come up. You can get the full benefit of operating your business off a tablet (rather than needing to be tied to a twenty-pound brick sitting on the desk in your office). You can be fully mobile, taking meetings wherever you wish and handling your workload on any schedule you prefer.