COVID-19 has presented many obstacles and life-changing behaviors in our daily lives, and yet I am finding some positive effects on our collective business lifestyle. Many of us are experiencing remote work for the first time, and that has presented options and opportunities to hone our communication and organization skills. We’ve all had to be creative and adaptable during these rapidly-changing times, and this has led us to a variety of helpful tools. I anticipate many will retain some of today’s changes into the future, creating new ways of working and making a lasting impact as we move forward.
Let’s look at four types of tools and software platforms, and some specific examples of each, that can help with our daily work:
Online communication tools help us connect quickly and efficiently through audio or visual channels. The best part is that many of these tools are free to users, with upgrades for additional features. Popular platforms include Zoom, Skype, UberConference, and Google Hangouts, all of which let users see and hear each other for virtual meetings, webinars, or team check-ins. Some even include options for screen-sharing, which can provide clarity and keep everyone on track. All of these tools are easy to use and create instant access in just minutes.
Other communication tools are valued for their ability to send quick messages and share files and videos. Slack, Trello, and Asana enable fast and effective communication through instant messaging.
The beauty of these tools is they reduce or eliminate emails and allow team members to correspond in the moment to resolve questions. Consider what would happen if you’re on a two-hour call, but one of your team members has a question that can’t wait? With instant messaging they can ask and receive your answer quickly (and discretely), or you can easily direct them to another team member who can provide guidance.
Another great advantage to these types of messaging tools is that they help foster a sense of community and fun even when you are not physically together.
Collaboration tools are excellent for assisting teams working on shared documents and projects without the hassle of passing files back and forth in email. The G Suite, better known as the Google Suite, and the Office 365 suite are excellent platforms for this. Multiple users can work in the same document and make edits at the same time thanks to cloud-based access, and changes are saved automatically. The best part is users can gain access to the documents 24/7 from any cloud-connected computer.
Project management tools are critical for keeping a remote team on task. When workforces went remote several weeks ago, one of the biggest challenges was knowing what stage projects were at and who was responsible for which pieces. Many organizations rely upon spreadsheets to track tasks; however, shared-access project management tools are far more efficient and robust. Examples include Trello, Zoho, and Wrike. Free versions can be extremely simple and easy to set up, but paid versions exist with additional features and capabilities to keep teams organized. No matter which tool you use, it is essential that everyone working on a project keep it updated to ensure no tasks get lost and no client deliverables are delayed.
At Acadia, we have found using a cloud-based project management platform to be one of the most important tools in our arsenal since moving to remote work. We encourage any organization to take some time to consider deploying a project management tool that fits your needs.
Sales and Marketing
Sales and marketing tools are another key element in understanding the health of your business. After all, without sales we don't have a business. It’s not uncommon for sales and marketing software to be viewed as an annoyance. But in all honesty, it provides the most critical picture of the future of your business.
We would never allow our accounting software to be inaccurate or “close enough,” but how often do we accept this from our sales and marketing software? Think of it this way: accounting is a view of your past, sales is the picture of your future. It needs to be accurate.
There are many CRM software packages and marketing automation platforms that can help you with streamlining sales and marketing efforts and following up consistently with potential clients. There really is no time like the present to organize and operationalize your sales and marketing to ensure that your sales pipeline is accurate and, most importantly, full. HubSpot is a platform that we value most for its free tools, ease of use, and quick startup; however, there are many other options including Zoho, Freshsales, and more.
Now more than ever our people, processes, and technologies are being tested. Make sure you have the tools to face the future with a new approach and the desire to be stronger and better than ever. Please contact us to learn more about these tools and to talk about making remote work work for your business.