BT launches free business tools

U.K. telecom company offers BT Business Builder, which bundles free management applications for small businesses.

U.K. telecom company BT Group has added a set of business-management tools to its portfolio of free hosted applications for small businesses.

BT Business Builder incorporates bookkeeping, invoicing, sales, planning, payroll, human resources, and health and safety tools, together with a news-alert service covering new business legislation.

Although the basic service is free, a fee-based upgrade to the premium service adds a 24-hour legal helpline to the mix, along with more-advanced human resources, health and safety, and payroll functions.

"Our customers are looking for comprehensive support and that's what we're delivering," Bill Murphy, managing director of BT Business, said Tuesday.

"By offering the basic service for free," Murphy added, "we are helping small businesses get off on the right foot, and more-established ones to make their processes much more efficient."

BT, which is gradually shifting its image from telecommunications incumbent to global IT services giant, has already launched several hosted services for small businesses this year. BT Tradespace, launched in April, is a free social-networking and marketing facility designed to let small business set up an online presence easily via a series of templates. BT Workspace, launched in January, is a Microsoft SharePoint-based collaboration tool.

David Meyer of ZDNet UK reported from London.

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