With the promise of a credit crunch fast approaching, people are starting to tighten their belts. The tech industry can often be one of the first to experience budget cuts and project cancellations but with distributed teams able to work together it doesn’t have to be this way. None of the new collaborations applications cost a fortune and most are free to try/use. The following is a guest post by Jake Stride, md of the Senokian agency which has spun out the TactileCRM suite of tools for small businesses.
Tools like Relanta, started by the Russian Dmitri Eroshenko, allow you to manage and maintain email across your team, and the US based Highrise and Pipeline Deals, allow you to keep your address book online and manage your sales pipeline.
With organisations working from disparate locations and the increase of home working, a good group collaboration tool is a must to ensure projects work in a streamlined fashion and that there is no unnecessary time wasted.
London based Huddle has an excellent online collaboration tool that offers whiteboards, document management and all the tools you need to keep your team working together. Other solutions are available that meet some of the criteria, but not in one easy to use system. Backpack and hosted SharePoint are others to consider.
For many the World is now their oyster. Dimdim has launched their Open Source meeting platform for easy online meetings with colleagues and clients, as has Adobe Connect. doodle.ch have a great online platform for scheduling meetings and getting everyone together, and the old favourites such as Webex and GoToMeeting can still be useful.
As we found recently there has been much discussion recently in the tech sector about project managment tools. From Chinwag’s uk-netmarketing list, to PHPWM, there are lots of tools available, but none that seem to quite fit everyone’s needs. Huddle’s solution can be a good fit when you need the collaboration tools, and there are offerings from Intervals, ActiveCollab, and Basecamp too.
Project Management is one of the few places that people seem to get particularly passionate about solutions that don’t quite fit their needs and one where it is worth spending a bit of time looking into solutions.
Support & Customer Service
We’ve all heard the adage, it’s easier to keep/upsell to an existing customer than to find a new one. Keeping them happy is promised by new startup ZenDesk‘s online support desk system, allowing you to manage your tech support tickets. Resolve RM is currently in beta and aims to make managing day to day customer enquiries and returns easier to manage.
From Freshbooks to Xero to Free Agent Central online accounting is great and can really make the most of your time. We use Freshbooks as it has a handy feature to email clients when they are overdue and do a certain amount of credit control/chasing for us.
All of the tools mentioned here are web-based, there are many others out there and this is by no means a complete list. For startups and established companies alike, there are plenty out there to make life easier and hopefully help to avoid the credit crunch.
As startups ourselves it’s all about making the most of the resources we have, and using the types of tools we create to help us work smarter.