When it comes to off-the-shelf apps, mobile device users enjoy an abundance of riches. Statista reports that of July 2015, the number of apps available for download in leading app stores included 1.5 million in Apple’s App Store and 1.6 million apps for Android users.

Of course not all of these apps are appropriate for small business use, but there is a considerable selection of apps that can help boost employee productivity by managing to-do lists, scheduling tasks, tracking travel expenses and more; and apps that enhance workflow such as those for document and task management.

And to help enhance collaboration and communications, there are a variety of messaging apps as well as conferencing apps that make it easy to launch a web conference or video right from your smartphone or tablet. For conferencing, you’ll want to be sure to have a headset to ensure audio clarity and cancel out background noise no matter where you are.  You’ll also want to check out Plantronics Hub app, available for iOS and Android mobile devices. Plantronics Hub helps optimize your Bluetooth headset experience with features such as Find My Headset, setting call options for your Apple Watch, and battery level checking.

However, before you even begin to peruse app stores, have a process in place for selecting apps that improve operations and help manage your business more efficiently. Purchasing apps that provide only a part of the solution you need or include components that do the same thing as apps you already have can lead to inefficiency and user frustration.

In determining apps for your small business, consider the following:

  • Identify the problem you want to solve: Be specific about your need. An app may sound like it could be useful, but if you don’t have a pressing need now, hold off on the purchase. The money could be better spent on something else your small business needs. You also will lose time getting your team up to speed on the app.
  • Review software/apps you already have: In “How to choose the right apps to manage your small business,” business software provider Sage recommends you begin your app acquisition process by making a list of all the software and apps you have and checking for any redundancies. As an example, Sage points out that your account management app may be able to create invoices, eliminating the need for an app to do so.
  • Ensure platform independence: You’ll want to be sure that the apps you select are platform independent or cross platform so that they will run on whatever mobile devices your team uses – iOS, Android, Blackberry OS or Windows Phone.
  • Evaluate ease of use: Make sure the apps you choose are easy to install and use. Your apps should make interaction seamless and include actions that are ‘familiar’ or intuitive. Apps also should make data entry easy, access to key functions quick and navigation simple.

Don’t rush into making a decision. Check user reviews and ask business associates and social media connections what apps they use. Also take advantage of free trials to put an app through its paces to make sure it fits your needs.