What Is Application Software? (With Definition And Types)

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 1 October 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Application software creates programs that support specific tasks and functions. These applications can improve productivity and efficiency for personal, business and educational projects. If you are a manager or information technology specialist, it can be beneficial to learn more about these software solutions and how they can improve a business operation. In this article, we define application software, what they do, the different types of applications and some tips for choosing the best application suited to your specific purpose.

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What Is Application Software?

It is any program or interface that helps users perform one or more functions. These applications can be for personal, business or educational use and are usually a part of all digital systems. It is important to remember that all software is in the form of applications, but all applications are a type of software.

Application software differs from system software because it is specific to a function or requirement. System software is often a broad interface through which you can perform many other functions. For example, operating systems and firmware are system software, while applications are the calculator app on your phone or the transaction section of a store website.

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What Do Applications Do?

Different applications allow end-users to perform specific functions, and the scope of utility for such applications can be expansive. These programs or apps support users in improving processes such as communication, efficiency, productivity, entertainment and creative design. They can also aid in information management, resource coordination, calculation and data analysis. Depending on their nature and utility, different apps can simultaneously provide support in specific functions or several areas. Below are some functions that applications can help users with:

Creating documents and spreadsheets

Word processing and spreadsheet programs help you create, edit and store text in the form of documents. Word processing applications help create and print documents like letters or manuals quickly at minimal cost, while spreadsheet programs allow you to store, track and analyse data using spreadsheets. You can use spreadsheet applications and programs to track productivity or produce charts and graphs.

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Sending and receiving information

Communication applications can make sharing information easier through apps like direct messaging platforms, message boards and collaborative virtual spaces. This includes written communication, like emailing services or instant messaging apps, and functions such as voice and video calling. Many communication applications are vital for remote jobs with digital workspaces and meeting rooms.

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Entertainment and gaming

Software applications like video streaming and gaming platforms are entertainment programs. For example, you may view videos online or watch television shows or movies through streaming platforms, which are a type of software application. The games that you install to play on your personal computer, mobile phone or console are also applications that facilitate interaction and entertainment.

Storing, processing and analysing data

Databases can be helpful for companies and organisations as they can track and analyse information about customer relationships, inventory, payroll and performance. Customer relationship management databases allow businesses to record and study customer activity. They also enable businesses to record client information. Payroll and scheduling apps support HR personnel in scheduling and tracking transactions.

Types Of Business Applications And Software Programs

These are some types of business applications or software that workplaces typically use:

  • Communication platforms: Applications that make communication easier with direct messaging, conversation threads and discussion boards can be helpful for digital workplaces that have employees working remotely. These apps ease communication by organising discussions, enabling document sharing and providing voice or video calling options.

  • Payment processing tools: Businesses can use applications and software to record and track points of sale. Other financial applications that process payrolls or support accounting and bookkeeping functions can also be helpful for business processes.

  • Creative design tools: There are many applications and software to facilitate creative design work for professionals working in creative or artistic roles. PDF (Portable Document Format) editing, graphic design tools and visual media applications help individuals working in creative roles visualise and create art, collaborate with others on projects and share deliverables easily.

  • Word processing and collaborative editing tools: Word processing applications allow users to create and edit documents like manuals, memos, letters, reports and whitepapers. The ability to store documents on a cloud and collaborate with many users simultaneously in real-time can also improve output and promote efficiency within an organisation.

  • Stock and inventory management software: In physical stores and outlets, programs that manage stock and inventory can improve overall efficacy, performance and organisation. Applications that specialise in these functions can enable warehouse managers and merchandisers to quickly label, identify and organise stock and inventory.

  • Demand forecasting software: Integrating inventory management systems with demand forecasting software can allow applications to predict future customer behaviour. This type of software analyses real-time sales and stock levels to provide valuable insights for reducing operational costs.

  • Productivity management tools: Applications that track and analyse staff performance can also provide insights and suggestions for improvement. Some apps directly support productivity by blocking distractions, setting realistic goals and providing access to resources and tools.

  • Human resource information systems (HRIS): Human resources are integral to most businesses, and human resource tools are common in every industry. They automate several tasks such as recruitment, onboarding, transfer, training and record keeping.

  • Scheduling apps: For doctors, consultants, hairdressers, financial advisors, lawyers and other professionals who take appointments, some easy-to-use programs and applications allow online appointment scheduling. In some cases, these applications can eliminate the requirement of appointment-focused phone calls and make personal assistance more efficient as customers can use them directly.

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Tips For Choosing The Right Application Or Software

You can use these helpful tips to determine which applications or software can enhance your operations:

1. Focus on your business requirements

Before you research potential software or applications for your business, make a list of your requirements and expectations according to priority. This can help you stay focused while you search and avoid paying for features that you may not require. Determine which aspects of your operation could improve most with the help of an application.

You may gather information from staff members to determine which applications can be most useful. For instance, the sales team could benefit from using client management software, while an accounting department may require financial tools. It is also helpful to remember that while applications and software can be valuable tools, training employees to use them effectively is also important.

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2. Request for free trials from service providers

You may want to purchase an application for your business because it claims that it can increase your profit margins or improve productivity. But, before you purchase it, ask if the service provider offers a free trial, as this may allow you to run a trial and see if it works for your business. If an app does not offer a free trial in their promotional package, consider reaching out to customer service to enquire if they are willing to provide a free trial for your business.

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3. Choose apps that integrate well

While running any business, it is essential to maximise the scope of your tools by making them work together. While considering potential apps, review the applications you currently use to see if the new ones can integrate seamlessly with your current system. Some business applications promote the apps they work well with, so you can consider those first. Introducing new apps that work with your current ones can make training employees and utilise the application's features and benefits.

4. Customise applications to fit specific requirements

Customising some applications and software programs allows them to perform functions beyond their original intended use. This can allow you to accomplish different objectives on the same platform. For example, you can customise a payroll application to notify all significant parties every time a large transaction occurs. Communicating with different teams and understanding each department's requirements can help you get the best output from existing tools.

5. Consult your professional network

Finding suitable applications and software for your business requires researching beyond customer ratings or choosing the latest programs available in the market. One of the simplest ways to identify the best tools for your business is to find out what other enterprises use to perform their functions. You may also reach out to software companies or startups with questions and concerns regarding their offerings. You can talk to them about your requirements to see if they offer customised solutions to solve your business challenge.

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