Here at NuRelm, we build web and mobile applications, integrate eCommerce services, and deliver custom websites. To accomplish all of that, we also must divvy up project assignments, attend virtual meetings, invoice clients, log our hours, manage benefits, etc. No business is exempt from managing the office (not even businesses without physical offices), so read on to find out how we manage, and why you should be using these tools too.
Do you ever find yourself wondering if you told your accountant to invoice that client, if there’s anything left to do on that project, or if your employee finished that hefty task from yesterday? You are not alone! For small businesses especially, keeping track of employee tasks can be a burden. We use Asana to make sure all assignments are scheduled and completed.
Following weekly scrums or other planning meetings, a project manager uses Asana to assign small, manageable tasks to appropriate employees. Then, our developers can get to work, confident that they’re on-target with their activities. When someone finishes a task, they get that ever-so-satisfying feeling of checking something off of the to-do list and their managers know instantly.
Asana can be set up to send email notifications for all kinds of events, including a new assignment, an overdue task, a project nearing completion, and more. From managing projects to personal to-do lists, Asana handles all of your tasks so that you can focus on accomplishing instead of remembering.
For businesses under 50 employees, it is usually impractical to hire a dedicated human resources manager. Instead, we use Bamboo HR. It puts employee contact information, vacation calendars, and performance reports at the fingertips of the people who need it. Bamboo’s employee self-onboarding ensures information is accurate and up-to-date.
Google is the biggest name in technology for a reason, and they did not fall short with their application bundle. The G Suite service bundles Google’s best applications for businesses into one monthly payment. Not all apps are created equal, though, so here are the highlights.
- Hangouts. NuRelm has a liberal telecommuting policy for those employees who are able to work remotely. This virtual meeting software allows us to speak face-to-face with each other as well as with other businesses without leaving the comfort of our homes/offices. If you’ve even been to Pittsburgh in the winter you would know why we love Google’s Hangout feature! While some of our local clients prefer to meet in person, others are grateful for the flexibility of Hangouts, as we can all get more done in less time. The screen sharing capability makes for easy cooperation.
- Drive. This file sharing service has become essential to operations at NuRelm. Employees can easily collaborate in real time on spreadsheets, plain text documents, and presentations, without having to be in the same physical location.
- Calendar. Finding time for a meeting has never been so pain-free. Calendar information can be easily shared across the company, so scheduling is transparent and straightforward
- Gmail. All of the functionality of the world’s largest email provider (with practically unlimited email storage space for those email hoarders in the office) with the added professionalism of using our own domain. Yes, please!
What sort of service company would we be without a system to track hours? Harvest makes it simple to categorize and document every single minute of your day (if that’s your thing). The incredibly simple user interface guarantees that employees can quickly input hours without interrupting their workflow. Optional descriptions can be used to paint a clear picture of how time is used, which is particularly helpful to remote teams like ours.
Administrators can enter clients and projects to keep track of billable hours, and can invoice clients (and set up automated email reminders when a bill is late) directly from the application. Harvest’s customizable time reports have been essential to our project managers, who need to stay on top of budgets.
If you manage the office or a busy small business, or if you own a startup and you’re just getting organized, the above office management tools will go a long way toward ensuring your success.
Do you have an office automation tool that you would like to recommend? If so, please tell us about it in the comments section below.
I am currently researching calendly as a way to help automate/simplify appointment scheduling. If anyone is using that or a similar automated scheduling system I’d like to hear from you..