Anyone who collaborates with other people to get a job done (and that’s the majority of you) can do so far more efficiently by working “in the cloud.” Your clients, vendors or employees can all be connected and important work documents and tasks can be easily accessed and shared, whenever and wherever you are. Keep in mind the ability to “integrate” each of these apps with one another makes you more efficient too!
No doubt I preach organization to my clients, so I try to practice what I preach. I’ve found these to be among the best for getting everyone on the same page, no matter how disorganized they may be otherwise.
In a nutshell: A hierarchy of Projects, Milestones, Tasklists, Tasks and Sub-tasks.
How it works: Members on a team are invited to join via email and (depending on what permissions you give them) can create a project, assign deadlines (Milestones) to Tasks and Sub-tasks to keep everyone clear on what their jobs are, when they’re due. There’s also the subtle peer pressure of having everyone invited on a project to see who’s behind (if the tasks are made public), and you don’t want that to be you.
What I like:
- Projects that are similar in structure and often repeated don’t require you to recreate them overtime one comes up. You can create templates to keep the same tasks with minimal adjustments per project. I love saving time, and this is the ticket to do so!
- It also allows participants to log time, and for project managers, it’s a great indication for future projects who may not need as much time to complete a task, and who might need more.
- Along with templates, projects can be easily customized and the layout is intuitive and user-friendly to navigate.
- For Number Nerd clients I create a tasklist for each client, and choose the “right” template based on the project type.
- At Number Nerd we use the “free” account that has 2 projects. One project is used for all clients, each client has their own tasklist . Second project is for internal administrative task list(s).
In a nutshell: Document sharing for projects that a team is working on, as well as a great place for storing important files that you’d like to access anywhere, anytime.
How it works: You create a folder or file, and depending on its intended use, can share it with others to view or to edit. People who update can also add comments to help you track what changes were made.
What I like:
- This is a great way to share larger documents like photos, pdfs and other graphics that may exceed email servers, or slow speeds.
- Editing and updating files will alert others in your shared group to activity. This is a nice way to notify people when who’s been working in the file and what they have done to the file. Each time a client uploads a file I get a notification.
- This is also great for mobile platforms to view or upload files when you’re ‘on the go’. Early this am I was able to send my client her payroll reports from my iphone!
In a nutshell: Integrated messaging for teams, similar to a text message, but organized for work groups to keep your communication separate from your personal correspondence. Oh, and most importantly this “de-clutters” your email and integrates with so many “other” programs you use and love!
How it works: Create a channel for people (or a client) to chat in based on work groups, locations, projects – whatever makes sense to create a group. Note: My Slack integrates with Teamwork by way of Zapier: each client channel has a “zap” that links to the tasklist.
What I like:
- Easy and familiar to use – much like a post on Facebook group with commenting capability.
- It’s also easy to upload and share files with your group – think DropBox, Google Drive, Word, Excel or Google docs. All the documents for your team in one place.
- You can also communicate privately with another person or group, and while you can receive notifications from team members while you’re offline so you don’t miss anything.
In a nutshell: Chat with associates on projects, save notes, share files in its easy to navigate app.
How it works: As you create, or are inspired, you can enter notes, take photos, make a list or if pen and paper aren’t handy, record audio to save your brilliant idea before it’s lost, and you can’t remember what epiphany you got while walking the dogs.
What I like:
- When you have a brilliant mind, or one that just doesn’t quit coming up with ideas or searching for information (I have such a mind, and I’ll leave it to you to guess which one), dump the ideas here.
- Evernote is a wonderful way to organize those insights, articles you read, lists you made, etc., for ongoing or future projects.
- I generally use this for myself, but when a client is also on Evernote, it’s easy to share my ideas with them as well, and then we’re both smarter.
In a nutshell: 16 different features allows you to “automate” your business. Book clients and sync your calendar, create contracts and invoices, bookkeeping, take notes, track time and even sync your email. It can help you do-it-all!
How it works: Your dashboard is as useful as you’d like it to be. If you sync the programs you’re already using, like your email accounts and calendar, you don’t need to check those sources separately.
What I like:
- There are more features on this platform that cover the full breadth of projects.
- Setting up workflows with corresponding estimates, contracts and invoices. The key is to remember it “automates” these features.
- From concepting and taking notes to billing and accepting payments, these features let you do it all from one app.
- Website lead page is a game changer, and lead tracking.
- Full disclosure, Number Nerd uses 17hats to track my website leads (by installing the lead capture plugin), and for contracts and initial invoices. Such a time saver!
In a nutshell: Track your time for clients so you can see where your time is being spent, while also keeping you on schedule for deadlines, task by task. Then create and send your invoice to your client. Note: you can sync it with your accounting program too, if you use QBO or Xero.
How it works: You can create tasks to streamline your time-tracking experience. The program allows you to create estimates, track retainers and then invoice clients. Let alone the reporting and analysis Harvest can provide.
What I like:
- As a bookkeeper, it’s great to know what time is being spent where so I can be more efficient or spot areas where I may be spending too much time.
- For my clients, if they are using the app, it ensures they are tracking their time and seeing the real “time” spent on a particular project.
- Similar jobs and projects can also be more accurately estimated as well.
- Reports and analysis features – they speak for themselves.
- Bonus: Harvest now has an add-on application called Forecast. This add-on helps you plan out your work and integrates with Harvest to reflect your schedule and profitability.
Now, there are other cloud-based programs that I love and use but, these 6 are an integral part of my business. If you are trying to get organized I implore you to check them out. However, if you are really stuck and not sure “where” to even begin head over to my site and let’s schedule a 10-minute consultation, and I’ll “point” you in the right direction.
Together, we can find a workflow that is just “right” for you. Let’s do it – sign-up here!
Also, stay tuned for additional posts on cloud-based programs (apps) that I love.