The Best Business Software

Office, ERP, FTP Clients - the most important applicationsdie wichtigsten Anwendungen (photo: Fotolia)
Office, ERP, FTP Clients - the most important applications (photo: Fotolia)

Companies simply can’t exist unless they have business software – for accounting, ordering materials, paying wages, or preparing financial reports and tax returns. You might be a freelancer who gets by using the main office applications, or perhaps you have your own company and are interested in ERP systems. Whatever your situation,’s guide to the most important applications is bound to prove indispensable.

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You can edit images directly in Microsoft Power Point 2010. (Foto: Microsoft)
You can edit images directly in Microsoft Power Point 2010. (Foto: Microsoft)

Microsoft Office 2010: E-mail, accounting, word processing

Office software is the cornerstone for people who run their own company or who work on a freelance basis. It gives you the tools you need for your everyday work. Functions range from word processing, spreadsheet creation, and address management to e-mail programs, databases, accounting features, and presentation templates.

Microsoft Office is by far the most common office application. The current version on the market is Office 2010, which has been adapted to the layout of Windows 7. Microsoft Office 2010 is available as a 64-bit version, and the full version comprises Access, Lync, Excel, InfoPath, Language Packs, OneNote, Outlook, PowerPoint, Project, Publisher, SharePoint Workspace, Visio, and Word.

The most important new features in the current version are the web apps. These enable documents to be saved online, so that they can be accessed at any time using an Internet browser such as Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari, or Opera – and then opened and edited. And what’s more, even colleagues who don’t have Microsoft Office installed on their computer can edit the files. Using web apps or the Windows Live SkyDrive online storage service, it is also possible to work together on documents.

And PowerPoint 2010 has some useful new features, too. You can edit videos and pictures, and you can also create screenshots directly. It’s no longer necessary to fiddle about and save the pictures to various clipboards.

If you run SAP software, you can integrate Microsoft Office applications into SAP ERP or SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence.

Microsoft Office Home and Business is available for €379. Follow this link for more detailed information about licensing options.

Adobe Dreamweaver CS 5 supports CSS and HTML 5 (photo: Adobe)
Adobe Dreamweaver CS 5 supports CSS and HTML 5 (photo: Adobe)

Adobe Dreamweaver: For your Web presence

Adobe is mainly known for its products Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, InDesign, InCopy, Illustrator, and Acrobat. Adobe Systems created Portable Document Format – PDF for short – a platform-independent file format that enables you to open documents regardless of your operating system or office program.

If you’re looking for software packages for digital picture editing or prepress procedures, you may be interested in Adobe Dreamweaver for your company web site. Dreamweaver is an HTML editor that you can use to create web pages easily. If you particularly like the basic layout of a certain web site, you can simply copy the HTML code to the editor and then adapt it as you please. Dreamweaver supports various color shades. You can look at all the changes while you work in the LiveView pane.

Of course, Dreamweaver isn’t on a par with classic content management systems. With Internet sites that constantly need updating or if you want to integrate online shops, a CMS such as WordPress or TYPO3 is a wiser choice. But if you rarely have to update your web site and use it more like a digital business card, then Dreamweaver provides the functions you require. Dreamweaver supports PHP and JavaScript. The current version 11.0.4 also supports HTML5 and CSS3.

Adobe Dreamweaver costs around €500. Follow this link for more information about Adobe’s licensing program.

You can telephone for free from PC to PC with Skype (photo: Skype)
You can telephone for free from PC to PC with Skype (photo: Skype)

Phone for free: Skype

Skype is far more than just an instant messenger: If you have offices within or beyond national boundaries, you can phone free-of-charge from computer to computer. Files can also be sent back and forth.

The fact that Skype users can see each other using a webcam is nothing new. A recent development, however, is the ability to hold video conferences with several participants at the same time. Skype is particularly practical for short consultations with customers or business partners.

What’s more, Skype now has a desktop sharing function. This means that you can see your dialog partner’s screen. You can look at presentations or go through documents together.

Using Skype, you can also secure a personal telephone number at which you are available throughout the world.

VMware provides you with virtualization solutions (photo: vmware)
VMware provides you with virtualization solutions (photo: vmware)

VMware Workstation

With VMware Workstation, you can run a virtual operating system on Windows or Linux. This enables you to use several operating systems at the same time, if – for example – you have a Microsoft Windows computer and want to work in a Linux environment. Linux is particularly favored by software developers. The virtualization software costs €150, and a 30-day trial version is available free-of-charge.

VMware Server

Unlike VMware Workstation, VMware Server is freeware. Using this software, you can partition a physical server into several virtual machines. It runs on Linux and Windows.

Total Commander gives you a complete overview of various programs and data (photo: Ghistler)
Total Commander gives you a complete overview of various programs and data (photo: Ghistler)

Total Commander: The Swiss army knife

For programmers and admins, Total Commander is like a Swiss army knife. It’s a file manager that runs on both Windows 95 and Windows 7. In addition, Total Commander supports Android operating systems

Total Commander gives you an overview of all your folders and files. In the two-column view, you can sort files according to content and create and synchronize folders. With a click, you can archive data fast and easily, without having to start another program. Total Commander supports archive formats such as ZIP, ARJ, LZH, RAR, UC2, CAB, TAR, GZ, and ACE.

The program also has a built-in FTP client, various functions for password protection, and a USB direct connection.

You can purchase the software for just €28.


Cyberduck is an FTP client for MacOS. It has also been available for Windows computers since March 2011. With Cyberduck, you can use drag-and-drop to exchange and synchronize files between Macs/PCs and Web servers. The program supports FTP,FTP/TLS, WebDAV, and SSH File Transfer Protocol.

The software is free.

Now also available for Windows: FTP Client Cyberduck (photo: Cyberduck)
Now also available for Windows: FTP Client Cyberduck (photo: Cyberduck)
Collaborate better on projects wtih SAP Streamwork (photo: SAP AG)
Collaborate better on projects wtih SAP Streamwork (photo: SAP AG)

Project management and collaboration: SAP StreamWork

SAP StreamWork is software that you can deploy for project management. The best thing about SAP StreamWork is that you don’t need to install it. Because it’s on-demand software, you simply access it through your Internet browser and use it there. This is particularly practical if your company has several offices that are some distance apart or if you work with freelancers who are based at other locations.

With SAP StreamWork, you can coordinate your projects across international borders and work on different tasks at the same time with other people. The software helps you set up a time schedule and coordinate activities: With SAP StreamWork you can, for example, create an agenda for the next meeting or draft surveys.

The basic edition is free-of-charge. Go here to sign up for your free SAP StreamWork account. The enterprise edition currently costs U.S.$16 a month. Up to 200 activities can be created in it.

See into the future . (Screenshot: SAP AG)
SAP Crystal Reports allow you to test out different scenarios (screenshot: SAP AG)

Business intelligence software: SAP Crystal solutions

If you want to analyze and assess the efficiency of your projects and the revenues they generate, or if you want to test out different scenarios, then you need business intelligence software. With SAP Crystal Reports, you can create reports from different data sources. You can register for a free 30-day trial version here.

The software is available in English, German, French, Chinese, Dutch, Italian, Japanese, Korean, and Spanish.

SAP Crystal Dashboard Design comes as a starter package or personal edition. With the software, you can create interactive dashboards and visualize tables from different company databases. The data sources can be Microsoft Excel 2003/2007, xml-compliant or SOAP-based databases, Web services, or Flash files.

You can then convert the graphics that you have created with SAP Crystal Reports into Microsoft Office (XP, 2003, 2007) documents or Adobe PDF files.

The software supports the languages English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Swedish, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Russian. SAP Crystal Reports solutions run on Microsoft Windows XP, Server 2003, and Microsoft Vista.

SAP Business ByDesign is accessed via the Internet browser (photo: SAP AG)
SAP Business ByDesign is accessed via the Internet browser (photo: SAP AG)

ERP software from the Internet: SAP Business ByDesign

Looking for online business software? Look no further than SAP Business ByDesign, SAP’s on-demand ERP system. This means that it doesn’t have to be installed on the company computer, but is used via the Internet browser. The data is stored at special high-security data centers near SAP’s headquarters in Walldorf and St. Leon-Rot.

Users can choose which modules they want to use and which modules they don’t.

SAP Business ByDesign comprises functions for customer management, financials, project management, HR, supply chain management, production, logistics, and legislation and compliance.

The software is designed to be used by at least 10 people. SAP offers attractive starter packs:

The CRM starter pack costs the least and is the smallest. Implementation costs are €9,900. After that, the company pays €79 a month for each user.

The ERP starter pack provides functions for accounting, financials, and purchasing. The implementation cost is €24,900. Licenses cost €133 per user per month.

The starter pack for service providers comprises several modules. It maps all the functions you’ll need for project management, campaign management, lead generation, and accounting. The one-time implementation cost is €34,900. Then you pay €133 per user per month.