It’s crazy for me to think back to the early days of Design Extensions, I managed everything out of my inbox and voicemail. I had no real systems to keep things organized and, as a result, could only successfully manage a couple of projects at the same time. Not only that, but keeping track of records and project details often became a real mess.
Today, we rely on a serious of critical apps to keep the business running smoothly. These apps help us keep organized, communicate efficiently, and never lose track of the next thing to be done on a project.
Great online tools are especially important for us because we have a remote team that works all over the place. The online apps give us a central place to connect and share.
In no specific order, here are some apps we HIGHLY recommend:
PipeDrive (Sales Tracking & CRM)
Knowing your prospects and pipeline of incoming deals is critical to good cash flow and future success. PipeDrive helps us keep all of the contacts, communication, and deals in order. It provides excellent stats for the company to compare activity, won deals, lost deals, and total deals in the pipeline. This tool is critical for us to know what things look for the coming months.
QuickBooks Online (Accounting & Bookkeeping)
Once a sale has been made, keeping track of receivables, payables, and overall profits is critical Quickbooks Online gives us access to the data we need from anywhere and also provides easy access for our bookkeeping. We had mixed opinions of QuickBooks in the past, but the latest online version is much improved and continues to get better.
TeamWork (Project Management & Task Management)
For years (and years), we used Basecamp as our primary project management tool. (They even wrote ablog post about us. After MUCH consternation, however, we found ourselves longing for a few key features that Basecamp didn’t seem to offer (an improved dashboard, recurring tasks, time tracking, and more). They do a pretty good job of showing their advantages here. (What’s up with the guy in the background though.) The kicker was that teamwork provides excellent migration from Basecamp, and we had almost zero downtime. We’ve started to love the added features of Teamwork, but there are also moments we miss the overall reminded polish and interface design that the Basecamp folks are masters of. Overall, Teamwork is a great Basecamp alternative with some powerful features.
Slack (Instant Messaging)
Instant messages are things that require instant responses — or to share great news with the rest of the team, or for random thoughts that others might find interesting to lighten up the day. Slack helps our remote team stay connected throughout the day. It’s easy to use and integrates with tons of apps. Highly recommended.
Google Apps (E-mail, Calendar, Docs, and Storage)
We’ve used Google Apps for e-mail (just like Gmail) for years, but more recently, we’re using the shared docs, Google drive, and calendar functions that are built in as well. They synced well across all devices and provided excellent collaboration.
Shameless plug, we use Google Apps for all of our clients and can help your business get setup with a new account easily. Just contact us for help.
SaneBox (Email Sanity)
This is a new addition to my toolset. I get a LOT of e-mail. Much of it is very important, and a lot more is not, but I still need to have a record of it (receipts, simple notifications, sales/offers, and more). SaneBox does an insane job of sorting through my e-mail and only putting things in my inbox that matter for today. It moves everything else to a @SaneLater folder. This allows me to deal with what matters without distraction from things that don’t, but still can go back through and sort through the other items all at once when I have time. It’s like having a personal assistant go through and clean out your e-mail before it gets to you each day. I’m not sure how I’ve been in business so long without this.
I hope these tools help you be more successful in business (and life). If you have any questions about how we use them, feel free to contact us.