It’s Not a Toy: The iPad at Work

With a 3G enabled iPad, business can get seriously streamlined. There are lots of iPad apps well-suited for business, but a couple of iPads linked-up through Google’s free services, a few free apps and simple Internet access can save time, cut confusion and costs, and make money.

I was talking with a potential contractor about the cost of replacing the deck on my home, when I realized that “iPad for businesses” doesn’t mean only tech businesses. Not even close. Smaller than most laptop computers, and priced about the same, the iPad can bring your office to the field.

Not Made for a Desk

First of all, the iPad is, quite literally, smaller than a 8.5″ x 11″ note pad or calendar. You don’t need to physically open it up, which requires extra space and better than average hand-eye coordination and balance to operate it. Lastly, tap a button and it’s on, no waiting for the boot-up.

It’s the right choice if your job has you anywhere besides a desk; builder, salesperson, plumber, landscaper, doctor.

Screenshot from the Dragon voice-recognition app

Touch pad keyboarding takes some familiarization, but short memos and notes are all most of us have to do on-the-go. If typing, even a small amount, isn’t your bag, then the Dragon dictation app is a great alternative. It’s a free voice-recognition app that does well with converting your spoken words into text, quickly.

Just Like Being There

If you take a few minutes, literally, to set things up, you can access what you need from your office computer from your iPad in the field. Files, notes, calendars, team member schedules, appointments, invoices, payments; if you need it, you’ve got it.

There are lots of ways to do it, but most everything can be done through Google. By setting up a Google account and linking your iPad to it, your appointments and notes can be updated by you on the iPad. Anyone else you grant access, an assistant, employee, etc., can also see and make additions, if you want them to.  If you’re in the field, and someone else is taking calls and getting customers, you’ll probably want them to.

You can also grant other people access to the Google calendar, but restrict their permission to make changes. Having your team set up their own calendars will allow you to set schedules or direct their work by sending invitations. For example, a customer calls and needs your goods delivered/services rendered on Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. If you’re booked, you can see your employees’ schedules and assign it to someone who is free by making the calendar entry and inviting that person.

For instructions on how to get this done, have a look at this post.

Find the Right Solution for You

There’s lots of ways to get it done. If you don’t want to trust everything to Google, or there’s just too many steps, or you find you need more/less functionality, try something else.  Basecamp is a total project management solution, but it’ll cost you around $50, and up, per month. It isn’t an app, but it’s compatible with the Safari web browser.  Bento is another solution. The $4.99 iPad app has a lot of functionality and easy to use. Whatever your choice, you can get it done and prove the iPad is not a toy.