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Online software that we are still using after three months

Most of the online software lost traction in my company after 1~2 months of implementation. One of the best features in SaaS (Software as a Service) model is that we get to try out the software in real environment and we can ditch the software if we decide that it is not something that we will continue using, without losing much investment.

Here are a list of software that we still stick to religiously after three months (a gage for us on whether the software is working for us or not).  Some of these may have been covered before in my previous posts: Company laptop and the software needed, Integrating Dropbox into company's file system.

Asana - Tasks Management

This software is like a software customized to our order, we have tried many other tasks & project management software, including Wunderlist, Insightly, Podio, etc, just to realize that we need a simple tasks list that is shareable.  

How We Use Asana

On daily basis, I go through:
  • Inbox: To see the update of the tasks that I am following.
  • Incomplete Tasks followed due within the next 2 days: I have this custom search list open when doing daily huddles with my team.
  • My Tasks: I have this page open for the rest of the day to make sure I get the tasks scheduled for the day done.
Other plus points include the integration with Google Apps (single sign-on and user management) and Harvest time-tracking (I personally don't use this feature often).

We have cut down a lot of internal emails once everyone get used to this software.  Tasks are assigned directly from Asana and attachment is supported.  We get to set a follow-up date (using due date field) and the task will show up in the "Incomplete Tasks followed due within the next 2 days" when due date approaches.

All changes (description, due date, comments, attachment) are being logged in the corresponding tasks.

Pricing

Embarrassingly, we are still running on the free account, which supports up to 15 users.  We will definitely upgrade once we outgrow the quota, or when we need the extra features only available in the Premium Plan.

Harvest - Timesheets

I'm surprised that it actually took me quite a while to find this software.  We need a time-tracking software that can enable multiple roles per user as most of us play a few roles in the company.  Most time-tracking software out there only support one role (and rate) per user.

How We Use Harvest

Each of us are required to log in our hours on daily basis and to submit the weekly timesheet every Monday.  Projects are created for external clients and also internal projects (non-billable).

We use the "Tasks" field to track different roles (with different hourly rates, for billing purpose to our clients who are on monthly retainer basis).

Every end of month, we will generate a report for the project that is on retainer.  We also use the report to calculate project incentive to be distributed to each team member who contributed to a particular project.

Pricing

We subscribed to Basic Plan and pay USD79 per month for 8 users.

UPDATE (2019-07-10): We have stopped tracking timesheet back in 2014 in my agency, which I have exited October last year.

ZOHO Invoice - Billing

We have been using ZOHO Invoice for our invoicing/quotation purpose since incorporation in 2011.  The developer is updating the system every now and then with new features or just for cosmetic reasons. 

How We Use ZOHO Invoice

We use ZOHO Invoice to do quotation, invoicing and payments recording.  We have recently turned on auto payment reminder (email notification will automatically be sent to clients 7 days before due date and a second notification on the due date itself).  The system is easy to use and most of the basic features like email integration is there.

Pricing

We pay USD30 per month for Professional Plan, with unlimited users.

UPDATE (2019-07-10): We stopped using ZOHO Invoice once we switched over to XERO as our  accounting software.


ZOHO People - HR Management

We needed a simple leave management system and we have been using this since the inception of our company.

How We Use ZOHO People

Quite straight forward for this, we entered all the public holidays, get team members to submit their leave application and direct supervisors will approve/reject accordingly.

Good thing is that if you would like to apply for longer leave (like 2~3 weeks), the system is smart enough to calculate based on actual working days, taking off weekends and public holidays (entered by admin).

Pricing

We are on free plan, which support up to 10 users.

UPDATE (2019-07-10): We stopped using ZOHO People as we switched to a local payroll and leave management system, called Kakitangan.

SmartSheet

I remember a client requested Gantt chart for the project timeline.  We didn't have any software that do that back then so we had to do it in spreadsheet.  Of course, there are changes to some of the timeline and we spent a lot of time coloring and decoloring the rows and columns.  I came across SmartSheet and with the relative reference to other items under the precedence field, I can easily update the whole Gantt chart in 10 seconds with changes in campaign launch date, for example.

How We Use SmartSheet

We use it to track campaigns that involve multiple parties.  We also started to use it more often when during the proposal phase.  A lot of time, the clients think that there are still plenty of time left if the launch date is two months down the road.  With an estimated timeline (realistic ETA are entered for each task) showing that in order to launch the campaign on time, the campaign has to be confirmed by end of this week, will usually do the trick of getting them to look at the timeline realistically.

Pricing

This one is a bit pricey and we only sign up for users that need to use it, we pay USD49.95 per month for three users.

UPDATE (2019-07-10): We have stopped using Smartsheet as we standardized our process for campaigns.



Dropbox - File Sharing & Backup System

We have been using Dropbox as our company's file sharing and laptop backup system.  Dropbox is more of IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) instead of SaaS.

How We Use Dropbox

Kindly refer to my previous post on this: Integrating Dropbox into company's file system.

Besides what posted earlier, Dropbox has also come to rescue a few times when I accidentally overwritten a file (spreadsheet, presentation, etc) instead of saving a copy.  I will just have to open the corresponding folder in dropbox.com and retrieve the old version.  It works wonder.  Besides, with Packrat subscription at USD3.99 per month, Dropbox stores unlimited revisions of the files (including deleted files) for me.

Personally, I also started to use Dropbox when dealing with vendors in cases when a lot of documents are involved.  For example, recently, in order to rent out my apartment, I emailed more than 20 real estate agents.  Instead of sending over a ZIP file of description and photos to every one of them, I put all the documents in a Dropbox folder and send them the Dropbox link.  They do not need to have a Dropbox account to view it.  They can view the photos in photo gallery format in the browser and download accordingly if they want to.

Pricing

USD9.99 per month per user for 100GB.

UPDATE (2014-08-20): We have recently migrated from Dropbox to Google Drive mainly due to the attractive pricing of Google Drive (1TB for USD9.99 per month) and easier integration and user management with our Google Apps.






Google Apps (Google Suite)

I have been a strong fan and advocator of Google Apps since 2008.  We started using it mainly for Calendar and Email.

How We Use Google Apps

You may read Company laptop and the software needed on how we use it.

Another great thing about Google Apps is the single sign-on integration with other systems.  We manage users (when new team member joins or old one leaves) in single Google Apps admin console for all the above applications, except Dropbox, which doesn't support it.

Besides that, being an agency offering Google AdWords services, we also use a lot of other not-so-common-to-the-public applications, like Google Webmaster Tools, Google Analytics, Google AdWords (obviously), Google Place, Google+ Page, Google Tag Manager, etc.  And all these access can be managed from the same Google Apps admin console.  Imagine how much time it has saved us on the setup of all these access for a new team member, and to remove all access when a team member left.

Pricing

Pricing starts from USD5 per user per month.  However, we haven't paid a single cent so far for all our Google Apps accounts because Google was offering 100 accounts for free back then, then down to 50, then 10 and now only 1.  We still have a few domain names with more than 100 accounts (you can ask for more back then, for free) and the one that Gapture is currently using has 50 free accounts. 

UPDATE (2019-07-10): Google Apps has been rebranded to Google Suite a while ago and has been even more powerful than ever.


Do you use any of the above software?  How do you use it?  Do you have others to recommend?  Kindly share.

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