Consultant at SoftwareSupp
When you start a business, there is not too much to worry about in terms of company’s management. The team is small, you easily communicate in person or through emails. Who cares about structuring and managing projects or time reporting if everybody knows what to do? The problem comes as soon as you start to grow from a few person teams to the larger scale and you realize how much time you lose due to poor communication, no workflow structure or accounting issues.
When your business grows, you face quite a few important decisions. Hiring new employees is one thing but if you don’t create an environment or company’s ecosystem to enable effective communication, tasks’ execution or new ideas creation, you will lose very much of your employees’ value and efficiency.
“Today’s Technology Makes It Possible To Run Most Other, Mindless Tasks Automatically.” Gilles DC, Salesflare
Structuring the company to prepare it for faster growth is not an easy job but there are plenty of solutions which can make your daily work easier and can automate many of unwanted tasks. It’s not wise to start using all of them at once but implementing them gradually, when they’re actually needed, is definitely helpful in growing a business faster. Even if you’re lucky enough to grow without any apps, you will finally face the challenge of implementing at least some of them and it will be way more difficult to do this when you already employ dozens or hundreds of people. I’ve been working for too many companies which faced this problem, so I can’t wait to show you 5 kinds of apps you can use to start managing your company better and prepare it for faster growth.
You probably don’t need to monitor how much time you spend on each task or schedule work time if you’re a startup, but think long term! As soon as you start employing more team members, it will be more and more difficult to manage their job appropriately. And it’s not about distrust. It’s about using the information about how much time people spend on particular tasks to increase the overall performance of your business. It’s about knowing when your team members will be available to help without any paper sheet reporting or wasting time on email conversations.
“In This Modern Age, A Cloud-Based Technology Solution Is A Great Way To Go. This Allows Employees Who Might Have Other Obligations To Check Their Schedules With A Glance At Their Smartphones.” Kyra Kuik, Planday
With Planday, we easily create work schedules for employees or team members. It also lets us track time spent on particular tasks, all of which is supported by a mobile application, so you always stay up to date with any changes to your team members’ schedule or can be notified about any vacation plans or sick leaves. As an addition to work time management, Planday provides a messaging tool within its app, so it can also be used as a team communication app.
TimeCamp is a very simple app focused on one activity — tracking time. It lets you monitor the time spent on particular activities, projects and can automatically detect how much time you spend on visiting particular websites. A useful one, if you want to know how much time you waste on Facebook.
When your company starts becoming a structured set of repetitive tasks and new projects, it will become more and more difficult to monitor progress and divide responsibilities. This is where project management apps become a must-have, especially because you have to start thinking about creating workflows and processes early in your business’s lifetime, not to wake up in a very chaotic environment.
Teamwork is an extremely functional app to manage your projects as it enables you to create and manage particular tasks, assign team members or attach necessary files. However, it is way more than only project management as it lets you create detailed charts and reports and enhances your projects with social experience, showing what your team members work on, in the company’s news dashboard. Teamwork has built-in time tracking app, so you will also know which how much time you spend on particular tasks.
“Teamwork Projects Provides Excellent Project Management Support, With A Host Of Apps, An Easy-To-Use Design, And Solid Features.” Jill E Duffy, Pcmag.com
Trello is an app which is probably known to most of you. It’s neat, simple and straightforward and might actually be enough if you’re not looking for more advanced functionalities in your project management process.
It doesn’t actually matter whether you run an internet, e-commerce or services business, you should keep track of your clients, contacts, and sales. This is why CRM (Customer Relationship Management) apps were created, helping you store, share and manage your clients and structure the way you approach new customers, trying to sell your product or services. With modern, cloud CRM solutions there is no need to implement advanced tailor-made systems. You pay per user and might choose between different functionality plans, so you pay for the product you actually need.
Salesflare is an online CRM app which will help you manage the progress of your sales, your clients’ data and outreach process. What we found awesome about Salesflare is that it’s extremely intelligent, meaning it can automatically detect the contacts based on your emails or social media which saves a ton of time spent on automatic contact input. Of course, with the app you also get full access to the mobile application, so no worry if you have to handle something on the go.
Agile CRM is a free alternative to more expensive CRM apps which does not deliver any advanced automation functionality but still can be a good option for companies with a limited budget. More importantly, Agile provides some marketing automation functions, which are difficult to find in other solutions of this type.
You might find communication features in other apps, including project management or employee scheduling apps but from our experience, it just can’t substitute a full-featured communication tool, solely created for that purpose.
There is probably no real competitor to Slack in terms of pure communication. It lets you easily add new users, manage teams, conversations channels, share files and most importantly quickly search through conversations. All of this completely for free. If you’re not using Slack already for team communication, you should definitely give it a try and see how it can contribute to better communication within your team.
Quip, apart from giving you a chance to reach each of your team members quickly, lets you co-operate in real time on documents, including Excel spreadsheets, a useful option in case you’re already tired of working on different versions of documents.
Sending invoices to your accountant might seem to be enough in terms of managing the accounting and financials of your company but long term, you need to be more aware of how your company is performing and might need help in automating the process of your communication between you and your accountant. With online accounting apps, you can also take care of the accounting process by yourself, as long as you still have enough time.
With Freshbooks, issuing invoices are much easier and prettier. You can design your own layout, issue invoices on the go through a mobile app and easily facilitate the communication between you and your accountant. The system automatically detects payments for particular invoices and even accepts credit card payments within its system. Freshbooks is very intuitive, user-friendly and scalable, so you will easily manage your finance, even if you grow to a bigger team.
“To achieve success in business requires the efforts of a team, not one person. FreshBooks understands this, and that’s why their platform is built for teamwork.” Nick Darlington, Nickdarlington.com
Invoicera, in its free version, lets you easily issue and manage invoices for up to 3 clients. It can also provide you with simple project management functionality in case you’re looking for an all-in-one solution.
Nowadays, time is probably most valuable currency so would you be willing to spend some dollars on an additional piece of app or software which is going to save you and your team some time? You have to calculate for yourself if this is something which will actually generate a positive return on investment. As long as your team doesn’t need any of the above there is no need to implement additional distractions but be alert for any signals to use these apps to boost your growth.