5 Better Business Tools Than the Ones You’re Using
With the Internet of Things gaining more momentum with each day, having cloud computing as one of its main preconditions, there’s nothing for small businesses that can’t and shouldn’t be done in the cloud. This allows for better and faster collaborations between internal teams, increase of work efficiency and productivity. However, if you’re a startup owner and don’t want to spend money on applications like Yammer or Basecamp, you could opt for some of their alternatives that cost less or can be used for free, and provide you with the same primary functions.
AffinityLive (Workflow Management)
Managing different projects is just one piece of the puzzle for those employed in the consulting or service industry. Invoicing, managing retainers, collecting subcontractor timesheets, and keeping track of different clients can eat up your time in a blink of an eye. What AffinityLive does is it collects the info from your calendar, address books, and email to build a central database of contacts and information. The tool automatically imports incoming messages, and allows you to choose your own way of managing interaction with each client getting his own activity stream.
The free version wouldn’t be of much use to you, so you’ll have to spend $29 per user (per month) to do workflow management, incorporate your calendar, and access various CRM activities. The version with higher-end features costs $59 per user per month, depending on the features you want to get. The website is mobile-friendly, but without a mobile app.
Microsoft Office 365 (Office Suite)
Office software is the industry standard. But as we mentioned how nowadays everything is being sent to clouds, Microsoft did it by creating a web-based Office software called Microsoft Office 365. It can work independently as a browser-only version or in tandem with the offline version of the software. The basic version of Office 365 costs $5 per user per month and you get only a Web access to the system. For $12.50 per user per month, users get Office Mobile for their smartphones and desktop versions of most apps, for a maximum of 25 users, and for $15 per month a Microsoft InfoPath is thrown in the mix.
Bitrix24 (Private Social Networking)
An alternative social network to Facebook that companies can consider for their employees. However, it requires privacy. For a long time, Yammer has been seen as the standard for private social networking, but Bitrix24 can serve as a great alternative.
Bitrix24 offers its users an activity/news feed stream, photo galleries, messaging, private conversations – like a standard social networking platform. Users can also set up badges that can be handed out to workers as a reward for a job well done. Project management features are integrated in PacBitrix24, which allows you to use a separate tool is you use it for to-do lists and workflow. The Standard plan costs $99 per month, while the Professional plan which adds a scheduling system and records management, costs $199.
ActiveCollab (Project Management Tool)
JIRA is widely used, mostly by software teams, for project management, but also for bug and issue tracking. However, whether it is because of the price or the claims that it’s too complex or not enough agile, ActiveCollab can be used as a great Jira alternative project management tool, primarily because it is less robust. Users can use it for everything from keeping to-dos for the marketing team to tracking bugs for the developers. For $25 per month, five users can get an unlimited number of projects and 5GB storage, while for unlimited users, unlimited projects, and 500GB of storage, you’ll have to spend $299. You can also buy a self-hosted version of ActiveCollab, install it on your own server, and customize to suit your needs better.
Mezzanine (Group Chat and Meetings)
If you want to host some serious video conferencing, then Skype won’t be enough. Having two teams working together, but from different locations, you need an online place where you would meet and discuss ongoing projects and issues. Oblong is the company that’s sending video conferencing up to the next level. Picture a conference room with large-screen monitors connected to another office via the Internet, with a shared whiteboard on which both teams can work, share, or present. The pricing is not disclosed, but it won’t be cheap. However, companies that could use a communication system like this should better try a demo.
We have presented you with a list of business tools that can be used as alternatives to various software solutions that most companies choose to use. They offer the same (or even better) primary functions and enable you to use them from remote locations (those that are cloud-based). If you find offline versions of the mainstream tools too complex, bulky, or not agile enough, try these alternatives.