September 23, 2020 4 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
The transformations happening in the digital landscape seem to be occurring exponentially as the world combats the necessity of remote working and learning. But even prior to the pandemic, my company employed useful apps in the infrastructure of our business model to increase our productivity, and so should you.
Here are seven time-tested tools that have proven key through their reliability, ease of use, user experience and overall quality. So while tech-anxiety is definitely a factor in today’s world, especially for those who have not grown up with an intuitive knowledge of these tools, I hope these suggestions will offer guidance and direction for entrepreneurs looking to integrate tech into the fabric of their companies.
Microsoft Office has come a long way since its early days, and I love how its transformed into Office 365, more or less with the same features and functions. Google has developed a similar apparatus of useful tools in a consolidated platform through Google Docs and Google Sheets. Although a heavy Microsoft user, I am finding it easier to work with Google’s product suite, as its features are abundant and user-friendly.
Related: 10 Productivity Tools for the Sole Proprietor
Digital conferencing and communication
Before Zoom climbed the stairway to stardom, video conferencing was still happening. Zoom is really great at what it does and has a very intuitive infrastructure, but we also use Google’s Meet rooms frequently. Between the two of these, you can never go wrong when you need video or audio-and-video conferencing between two people or more.
Today, every team must work cohesively towards goals and deadlines, and project management or project tracking software and platforms are a necessity. I can confidently say that Asana, Basecamp and Trello all make it to the top spot. They each have a different flavor when it comes to how things are organized and how you track tasks and collaborative items, but all three are very robust in terms of feature functionality. It comes down to personal preference. (I am using Trello more than I’m using Asana or Basecamp right now.)
Related: Collaboration Tools of the Most Productive Remote Teams
Document management becomes a little trickier when you work with sensitive information such as in the healthcare industry. One mandatory aspect of any document management or content management system is to understand where your data goes. Public server platforms including Google Drive, iCloud and Microsoft Drive are all consumer-grade applications, which can host your data on any non-specified server. When it comes to privacy in some industries, it becomes necessary to absolutely know where your information is, as even crossing international borders can breach confidentiality laws. My choice of platform for non-sensitive data is either Dropbox or Google Drive. For more complex information and proprietary customer information, we have used enterprise-grade technologies to store data in the past.
If you are a business that operates on a profit and loss basis, you must use customer-relationship management software. Today, many cloud-based CRM systems will help you manage your leads, allocate to your teams and seamlessly manage the entire journey of your client or customer as they pass through your organization’s various operating units. I’m a big fan of HubSpot Pipedrive. Both have great features and functionality, and there are at least 10 more CRM’s that are equally good. My reasons for using Pipedrive right now are its cost and some other miscellaneous features that adapted well to my company.
Related: Five Productivity Hacks for Global, Remote Teams
Business management can get complex, and I tend to look at every function within our organization as a specialized area. For example, sales should have their own way of managing and tracking leads, as should operations and project management. Some honorable mentions and platforms I’m evaluating right now include Pipeify for business-workflow management, SocialBU for social media management and KissPR for managing our press releases and communications.
Finally, in a comparison of comparison websites, some really good resources for comparing various technologies and their advantages and disadvantages are available at Capterra and G2crowd.
Finding the right platform for your processes is sometimes like finding the right partner to spend the rest of your life with. However, it does not have to be so complex. The key is to stick to something once you find it and standardize it within your company.