Virtual assistants work as independent contractors offering clerical and a variety of services similar to in-office secretaries, administrative assistants and clerical staff. They generally work from a home office equipped with fax machine, computer, desk, printer and Internet access. The types of software required by virtual assistants depend on their industry. All virtual assistants use a general set of software to provide services and manage a business.
Desktop publishing software includes word processing, presentation, spreadsheet and database software. Virtual assistants working in the marketing industry require publishing programs for creating fliers, websites, postcards, invitations and various types of publications. Other requirements include the add-on included with word processing software, spelling and grammar checker, thesaurus, dictionary and language translators.
Transcription consists of recording and writing dictation; transcription software programs make it easy to play back a recorded communication. The virtual assistant can stop, start, rewind and pause the recording. You can send the recorded transcript by email as is or as a compressed file. As of 2011,common formats include MP3 and WMV. Several recording software programs are compatible with different formats.
Managing a virtual assistant business requires bookkeeping and billing software. Virtual assistants specializing as bookkeepers should use an all-in-one bookkeeping system. These assistants can create invoices, quotes and proposals; record payments; and tracking work time with one program or with different desktop publishing software programs.
Communication software is another necessity for virtual assistants. The fax and email software available offer personalization and ready-made templates. Virtual assistants may choose to create a template that suits their business image. Using an Internet phone service will reduce the cost of long-distance and monthly phone bills. Using email and fax programs online requires a good internet connection.