Top 12 Apps to Help You Run Your Business in Singapore


Running a business is tough. If you are in Singapore, where the labour crunch is putting a strain on your resources, you cannot be spending time on administrative work.

Leveraging on technology has multiple benefits: you can access your work wherever you go; saving your work on the Cloud means that you have less chance of losing it if your computer crashes; you will be more efficient and less error-prone.

Using apps is the way to go in a place like Singapore where everyone is tech-enabled.

We have brought you 12 apps that can help you run your business:


Evernote is an app that helps you record text, audio recordings, notes, reminders and pictures on the Cloud. You can access it from any device and it is free up to a certain limit. Evernote also allows you to collaborate by sharing files with other Evernote users.

The app can be used offline and when you connect to the Internet, the app will automatically upload your files to the Cloud. Evernote is a great way to organize your thoughts now, and take action later.

2. Google Apps for Work

If your company is using Gmail, Google Drive is a must. You can share documents, spreadsheets and presentations within the company or among a few members by customizing permissions to files.

While Google Apps for Work is not free, the range of products available to you make the subscription worth your while.

3. Trello

This is an awesome project-based software. It’s free and does away with meaningless sticky-notes, spreadsheets and email chains. Trello is a great app to collaborate and track progress in a project. Trello allows you to integrate with Google Drive, Dropbox, Box and OneDrive.

You can set notifications and make checkists to stay on top of your work. You can also create team to manage people working on Trello. Altogether, Trello makes for a great app that can boost productivity at the workplace.

4. CamScanner

Oftentimes, you need to file and submit forms for administrative work: whether you are incorporating your business or filing taxes. A great way to scan and store your official documents is by using CamScanner.

The app is free and lets you scan documents on your phone. You might be wondering why this is a step up from taking a picture of the document. CamScanner adds filters to the picture and automatically makes it look like a scanned version of the document. You can email the document to anyone as a JPEG or PDF file. You can also just save it on the app and access it online from any device.

5. Tripit

For business owners who travel frequently, Tripit saves your itinerary in one place and lets you access it easily. Tripit also gives you weather updates and maps to your destinations. Tripit is free for a few features like saving your plans in one place, syncing plans with your calendar and editing plans manually.

The paid version allows you to track frequent flier miles and share your plans with friends.


6. Hipchat

Hipchat is a communication platform for your employees. It is free if you use the basic service where you can have chat rooms based on the functions of your business (marketing, sales, operations, etc). Hipchat is user friendly and only $2 per user per month for the full service. That includes video chat an screen sharing.

7. Rescue Time

This is an interesting app, mostly useful for you as a manager. The app runs in the background and tracks what you are working on. It sends weekly and monthly reports.

This helps you compare what you plan to prioritize on and how much time you are actually spending on a task. The Lite version is free and has limited features. The full version blocks apps that are distracting you and send more detailed reports to measure your productivity.

8. Mailchimp

If you send emails to a list of subscribers, then Mailchimp is a must for you. It is free up to 12,000 emails per month to up to 2,000 subscribers. Mailchimp gives insight into how many people have opened the email, how many have clicked on the links you have sent them and which emails have bounced.

Another cool feature is that Mailchimp integrates with other apps like Google Analytics, Slack, Salesforce and more.

9. LinkedIn

Everyone knows about LinkedIn but how to use it is more important. It is a social networking site for professionals. It is free with limited features. LinkedIn is essential to help you stay on top of the latest events in your field of work. It has a number of groups where people in similar careers discuss opportunities and challenges.

LinkedIn could just be the path towards improving your business or finding new avenues for your personal career growth. It is also a great tool to use while hiring people.

10. Expensify

Expensify is an app that helps you track expenses, scan bills and more. It is a free app that is incredibly useful for a business owner trying to separate personal and business expenses. It also helps your employees to report expenses clearly. The expenses are exported into your accounting software making a seamless transition between different applications.

Expensify integrates with Salesforce, Quickbooks and a host of other software apps.

11. Insightly

Insightly is a CRM software that helps small businesses take charge of the CRM. It has a mobile app and a web app that integrates with Google, Mailchimp and more. Insightly helps you stay on top of leads, partners, vendors and suppliers.

It also gives you reports and data on how your CRM based project is progressing: with data on your sales funnel and forecasts on the closing date for a deal. Insightly is not free but you can sign up for a free trial.

12. Dropbox Business

If you haven’t realized it already, Dropbox is a force to reckon with. You can share, collaborate and store files securely on the Cloud. It is easily accessible on any device. Dropbox helps in collaborating by notifying you on any changes made in documents and saving different versions of the document.

Dropbox Business is not free but offers unlimited storage space, ability to make groups and third party app integration, among other things.



Most of these apps facilitate teamwork and remove barriers like difficulty in communication, unclear task delegation and poor management of data. What it leaves you with is time to focus on bigger tasks that are more pressing for your business.

These recommendations are also free or with minimal initial investment. We hope they serve you well and we would love to hear about more apps that can improve efficiency in your business!

What Does It Take To Make Remote Work Work?


As a business owner, you are bound to look towards expanding your business at some point. In which case, you will have multiple offices at different locations. While you are in one worksite, you will want to stay in touch with employees in your other store locations. Staying connected is essential when your employees are spread out over the map. It’s even more important if your employees work remotely and do not often physically meet you or other employees on a regular basis.


At PayrollHero, we use a number of apps to facilitate remote work. These apps tie our employees together. We use the apps for face-to face interactions and for quick chats instead of spamming employees’ inboxes. The following apps might be useful for your company too:

SlackThis is the center of all our communication through different departments and offices. Slack allows you to create chat rooms and invite people to them. We use this feature to separate different functions of the team: engineering, business development, etc. Slack is also our metaphorical grapevine. We have chat rooms for random news, general musings and articles or books that anyone wants to share with the team. Slack also allows for private chats, thereby removing the need for emails to coordinate work. Slack is flexible in the sense that it has a number of integrations: Twitter, Mailchimp,, Skype, Google HangoutsTeams can’t function without face-to-face meetings. Bosses benefit from meeting their employees face-to-face in order to gauge their emotional state and general well-being. The app features and video quality differ but essentially they help you conduct online meetings.

Asana, TrelloTo ensure that all tasks are tracked and accountable to the relevant employees, we use Asana. These apps are built to suit remote work. Asana allows you to assign tasks in a checklist format whereas Trello breaks down work in the form of projects in which tasks are outlined using cards. Both apps can be accessed online. So you or your employee can work from anywhere in the world and still stay on top of things.

Google Drive, Dropbox for BusinessKeeping track of all the documents and sheets created by multiple departments across different worksites is essential. These apps are tailored towards businesses’ storage needs. With a subscription fee, you have access to unlimited storage, data analytics (for Google) and more. Both apps allow you to track who is editing files and what kind of access you want your employees to have for each file or folder.

It’s More Than Just Apps

Making remote work successful is more than having a suite of apps at your disposal. It requires a shift in the way you and your employees think about work. It requires trust in your employees to work even if you’re not monitoring them at the office. We have inculcated some practices that help maintain discipline and structure even when employees work at different locations across the work. Here are some that have helped us:

Morning catch ups: Every morning, at a time suitable to your employees in their respective time zones, each employee summarizes their work in 60 seconds. The format is: what they accomplished yesterday, what they couldn’t complete, what they will do today and roadblocks to completing their work. From the head of the team down to the entry-level employee must be able to summarize their work in under a minute. The meeting is helpful in understanding where the team is going and what can be done to remove roadblocks.

Handbooks: For new employees, or employees that have changed departments, it is hard to catch up to how things are done when the entire department works remotely. Writing down the steps to each task in a handbook and storing it in Google Drive/Dropbox cuts down on confusion and time wasted in connecting with the employee who knows how to do the required task. Handbooks remove any misunderstandings or errors. It is a fool-proof way of ensuring that the business continues in case someone is not available to lend a helping hand.

Slack-logoUsing Slack to integrate the team: While Slack can be used to create chat rooms and do work, it is often a great tool to include everyone on the team and talk about common interests. Our chat-rooms like #random and #general are great spaces for employees to share ideas and talk about things outside of work. It is a place to plan outings over the weekend or share movie reviews. These conversations pull the team together and allow for cross-departmental interaction; something that could be missing while everyone is focusing on work.

Finally, making remote work possible is about using apps to their maximum capacity and reviewing if they work or not. Managers need to be more mindful of their employees. Employees in turn need to make a conscious effort to stay on top of their work because remote work often results in the blurring of personal and professional life. Altogether, making remote work work is hugely beneficial to employees. All it takes is a little tweaking of the way things are usually done.

How to Deal with the Labour Crunch in Singapore


As you know, the F&B sector in Singapore has been facing a labour crunch for years now. Currently, for every foreign worker, the F&B sector needs to hire 6 local workers which is an impossible ratio for companies to handle. To attract more local workers, restaurants have had to raise costs without any increase in quality of service. Restaurants that were unable to do this resorted to leaving tables empty.

The Restaurant Association of Singapore proposed some solutions, including relaxing the foreign workers’ levy. While this measure is up to the government’s discretion, there are ways that restaurants can cope with the labour crunch.

Increasing Productivity through Technology

There are many front-end and back-end processes that can be streamlined by automating. In terms of adopting new technology, the restaurant industry has traditionally lagged behind the rest. However, the need to automate is clearer now than ever before. There are many examples in Singapore where restaurants have installed POS systems, set up digital menus or moved the practice of making reservations online.

Sakae Sushi in Singapore is a great example of automated processes. They have a conveyor belt that serves sushi. The belt is an island that is surrounded by tables so that customers can pick whichever dish they like. The restaurant also has iPads on every table to allow customers to order using the menu on the iPad.

McDonald’s Singapore is just catching up to the reality of increasing costs. Four out of approximately 120 outlets in Singapore have kiosks from which customers can order. 20% of their customers use kiosks. The systems reduce manpower required to take orders. It also makes the ordering process fool-proof, thereby saving time and money by preventing errors due to miscommunication between the customer and employee. In addition to reducing errors, McDonald’s employees can focus on back-end tasks and speed up service.

Balancing out costs: The result of automating is that there are shorter queues and more customers walking in through the door. The self ordering payment systems that Ananda Bhavan, a restaurant chain in Singapore uses, cost around $40,000. But in the long run, the investment pays off because of more orders and higher revenue.

To see a more tangible improvement in processes, Aptsys – a self-ordering POS system – released statistics on their website on how their product benefits restaurants. By their estimates, ordering speed increased by 70%, repeat orders increased by 30% and human errors decreased by 80%.

Tax credits: The government of Singapore has come up with incentives for companies to adopt newer technology. This includes training the staff with the new technology as well. The Productivity and Innovation Credit Scheme gives companies a 400% tax deductions or 60% cash payout as long as the improvements in technology come under the six qualifying activities.

Singaporean restaurants are increasingly seeing a fall in revenue because of empty tables and increasing labour costs. The only way for the industry to cope with falling margins is to adopt technology that can reduce manpower. We have previously suggested ways to upgrade and adopt new technology in areas of reservations, POS systems and food delivery. Over the next few years, it remains to be seen whether foreign worker quotas will be relaxed in order to release the pressure that these industries are under. Currently, the way to move forward is by using the tax credits that the government is offering to upgrade restaurant technology.

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Cloud Computing Part II: 5 Companies that are Changing the way Business is Done


As a sequel to our previous post on cloud computing, we thought we would give you an idea of how cloud computing is being used by companies to help businesses in South East Asia. Below we have 5 companies that are changing the way businesses function. Some of them are catered towards bringing in more consumers through the door while others are helping business move day-to-day operations into the cloud so that businesses can spend more time and money on their core competencies.

Loyalty Apps

Perx: This Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software collects loyalty cards into one neat app. For a consumer, you earn points every time you purchase something. Accumulation of points leads to rewards. Perx says that consumers spend 7 times more with the app than without it. Some of the merchants under Perx’s belt are Subway, Joe and Dough’s, Maki San and Salad Stop.

For you, a merchant, Perx gives a huge client database by putting you on their map. The company uses Amazon Web Services to control all the data it collects. Perx’s data analytics gives information about consumption trends, how much a consumer would spend on lunch, where they are located: in short, everything you would like to know about your customer. Perx offers this wealth of data to all its merchants for a fee. As an added marketing platform, Perx features companies on their email and blog which is sure to boost your presence in the community.

Foursquare: While Foursquare does not collect virtual loyalty cards, it uses its core competency – geolocation data and services – in order to bring businesses to consumers. For businesses that claim their names in the Foursquare directory, all rewards and deals that are offered will be displayed to the user.

Inventory Management

TradeGecko: Singapore’s leading user-friendly inventory management software uses the Cloud. It helps retailers and wholesalers to manage multiple warehouses and the entire supply chain without using conventional methods like excel. TradeGecko allows remote monitoring which helps retail managers to control operations at multiple locations. TradeGecko also has Xero integrated into it to digitize the accounting end of the business as well.

Unleashed: Similar to TradeGecko, Unleashed provides analytics on turnover rates, overstocked items, managing margins across different channels (retail, wholesale, e-commerce) and all this in real time.  Unleashed also integrates other Cloud solutions to its app.

Food Delivery Apps

Slurp: Created by Silent Mode, Slurp is the Malaysian version of Foodpanda. It uses cloud based POS systems that help restaurant owners process delivery orders. While Slurp does not deliver food, it has a data analytics service along with a customer app and a waiter app, all in the effort to make ordering food a smoother and error-free process.

News: Labour Crunch in Singapore

Labour Crunch in SingaporeThe F&B sector is facing a labour crunch. Restaurants are turning away diners even though they have empty tables because they are understaffed. This has been a problem in Singapore, but never more serious than now. Singapore’s unemployment rate is at a stunning 1.9%. The turnover rate in the F&B business is the highest among all industries.

As an economics student, I see this as an interesting problem. Finding out what is going on behind the statistic is necessary from a policy perspective. But it also helps a restaurant owner to prepare his or her restaurant and steer through till the economy adjusts to the issue. So what is going on and what can you expect?

  1. Saturated labour market

With such a low unemployment rate, the pool for new recruits is drying. It would help if Singapore could widen its employment base and rope in people who have dropped out of the labour force altogether. However there is a problem with this.

Employment numbers among locals is concentrated towards food services, retail trade and construction. Wages in these domestic oriented industries are lower than export oriented ones. Low wages are a disincentive. People will be more willing to joining the labour force if wages were higher.

The second problem with widening the employment base is that the population of Singapore is too small. There aren’t enough locals to widen the labour market. But more on that later.

Now, we have mentioned that wages are low in the food services and retail market. But you must be noticing that you need to pay higher to retain your workers. This is the typical economics demand-supply problem. As the demand for workers rises while the supply remains the same, wages must rise. If it has not happened in a dramatic way yet, it will eventually. Markets will adjust and overcome rigidities unless the government intervenes.

  1. Labour Laws

Let’s go back to widening the labour market and why we can’t seem to do that. Firstly, Singapore’s local population is too small. Secondly, foreign workers are restricted by numbers and industries.

For the F&B services, it would help to employ a foreign worker for every old-age worker, as suggested by Food and Beverage Work Group Report. While this is a policy decision that the government has to take, restaurant owners should be aware about the policy changes that are likely to come about, considering the current labour market.

  1. Perception of working in the F&B industry

It is hardly surprising that the labour market is not kind to F&B services. The hours are eratic, the pay is low. The lack of a minimum wage in Singapore leads to wages being pushed down to a point where Singaporeans cannot accept the job.

The overall benefits of an entry level worker in the F&B industry are minimal. This could have damaging effects. If the government does decide to loosen rules on part-time, the connotation that is attached to F&B employment may hinder chances of employing students. If this perception does not change, the F&B industry might see more restaurants shutting down.


Let’s say that the government will intervene and solve the situation at some point of time. But what can you do in the meantime?

  1. Increasing Productivity Through Technology

There can be no better time to invest in technology than now. With a shrinking labour force, restaurants have fewer waiters to take orders and handle customers. By installing POS systems, waiters can focus on serving customers. Improving other aspects of your businesses will also cut costs and help you through the tight economy. Inventory management and food delivery ordering systems can be digitzed. All this aims towards reducing manpower and costs.

  1. Improving the perception of working in F&B

This is imperative in order to bring in workers into your restaurant. There are a few ways you can do this. Firstly, add more meat to the job. The worker should know that there is a possibility of growing in the job.

For more tips on retaining young workers read “How we keep our young talents from leaving“.

Secondly, workers must be awarded with performance based incentives. They need to feel empowered and know that working hard will pay off. This will raise the perception of the industry as one that can further career prospects for individuals.

  1. Training

Lastly, Putting them through well designed training programs will improve turnover rates. The Group Report suggest the training program implemented in Singapore Airlines and customized to the F&B industry.

The F&B industry needs to change with the times and adapt to the current economic conditions. Restaurant owners need to adopt best practices and use technology to reduce human errors and eventually reduce costs. This way, the industry will be less exposed to labour market fluctuations that can potentially result in damaging Singapore’s reputation as the food hub of Southeast Asia.

If you are in need of people, check out our friends at BGC for your staffing needs.


5 Reasons Why Smiling Increases Productivity


At PayrollHero, we help cultivate a happy working culture by having employees start and end each day with a SMILE!


Our selfie TeamClock captures your amazing smiley faces as you clock in and out of your office or work station. Gone are the mundane punch cards! We can uplift your mood by having you coming to and leaving work feeling much more invigorated, motivated and Happier!

Smile Every Mile…


Did you know smiling from real emotions or even faking it has been scientifically proven to lower heart rate levels and decrease stress? (Source)




Here’s 5 reasons why smiling contributes to higher productivity:

  1. Happy people work better with others. People who have happy energy are a lot more fun to be around and consequently have better working relationships with others. In fact, researchers have found that happiness is contagious. Nicholas Christakis, a professor at Harvard Medical School explains that “Everyday interactions we have with other people are definitely contagious, in terms of happiness”. He says that when one person is happy, the social network effect can increase up to 3 degrees- meaning friends of friends.
  2. Happy people are more creative. Productivity means being able to come up with new ideas. If your job depends on developing new ideas, then you have to be happy at work. Check out this study by Teresa Amabile for proof. She says that:“If people are in a good mood on a given day, they’re more likely to have creative ideas that day, as well as the next day, even if we take into account their mood that next day.
    There seems to be a cognitive process that gets set up when people are feeling good that leads to more flexible, fluent, and original thinking, and there’s actually a carryover, an incubation effect, to the next day.”At PayrollHero we keep customers on their toes as we keep coming up with fresh features to optimize time, attendance, scheduling and payroll for businesses.
  3. Happy people fix problems better. No problem is a mountain too high for the engineering team at PayrollHero. We will gear up and fix any problems. A recent study has proved that “a way to improve software developers’ productivity and software quality is to focus on people and provide incentives to make developers satisfied and happy”. Happy programmers are better problem- solvers. Science says so!


    Adventure Engineers in Danang, Vietnam

  4. Happy people get sick less often. Getting sick is a productivity killer. If you don’t like your job, you’re more susceptible to have major diseases including ulcers, cancers and diabetes. This is especially so for women, where one study has assessed the impact of job strain on the health of 21,290 female nurses in US and found that those who are at health-risk are those who didn’t like their job (source). So, being happy with your job prevents you from being sick and burning out.
  5. Happy people make better decisions. People who are happier make better, informed and consistent decisions. An article in the Journal of Consumer Research determined that mood influences the very basic element of decision making- whether we like something or not.

Curious about how PayrollHero can create happier work environment and improve productivity for your business. Come to our FREE in-house event! 

PayrollHero In-House Event: Retail Hero, 14 May 2015

Click me! Get tickets on Eventbrite