Working as a digital marketing service agency promoting the use of online channels, we try as much as possible to lead by example and use some of the fab cloud services out there to improve the service we provide clients and also make ourselves more productive. Here are the tools we use.
- Google Apps for email, docs and most other stuff: Love ’em or hate ’em, it’s hard to beat Google’s suite of business apps. We use Irish company Blacknight for our web hosting and did use their hosted email (though using IMAP to push it down to our Mac Mail email client). We found that Blacknight’s email service wasn’t always as reliable as we needed so we migrated to Google Apps and now our mail is gmail based. Pretty easy to do even for a non tech head. Of course we still continue to use Blacknight for our web hosting and their customer service is great.
- File storage: We were big Dropbox users for cloud file storage but their team pricing is super expensive for an SME so in the move to Google Apps we just bulked up our Google Drive storage a bit and found the move not as scary as we thought. We still use Dropbox on some client projects and its still a prettier, easier service than Google Drive but we just couldn’t justify the cost of $795 per year.
- Asana for project management: Asana is a really great project management tool created by some ex Googlers so you can log-in with your Google account. Once you make the move from having lists everywhere and just put everything in Asana, it’s super easy to work with teams and keep lots of silly email trails from your inbox. We’ve been using it for about ten months now and it means nothing falls between the cracks.
- Freshbooks for time-tracking and invoicing: for any service based business, tracking client hours is so boring but necessary. We’ve been using Freshbooks for three years now and it is just BRILLIANT. Super easy to set-up, great reporting, easy client invoicing where they can log-in at any stage to check their account balance. What’s the best part? When we invoice a client, we can check if they have viewed the invoice. If they haven’t viewed it after a month you can be sure you won’t be paid!
- Evernote for remembering everything. For a long time we’ve hovered between Delicious, notes, reminders, emailing links to ourselves and lots of other cumbersome ways of tracking things we want to look at again, remember or just document. We were using Evernote sporadically for a while and didn’t see a benefit. The trick is to use it all the time for everything. Then brilliantly it syncs between your devices so I can record and find everything no matter where we are.
So they’re our top 5. We use some other stuff too that we’ll tell you about sometime. What do you use?
Image Credit: Toolbox by Gordonrr under Creative Commons on Flickr here.