Top Organization and Communication Apps for a Small Business
We get used to things, the way things work. We like the familiar. Unfortunately, our general aversion to change often keeps us doing things the old way long after simpler tools have been introduced. Same goes for software. A lot of businesses are used to keeping operations “simple” by conducting their entire workflow over Microsoft Office and email. However, this way is no longer the “simple” way.
Today, there are some excellent organization and communication apps to help you run and manage your small business. These apps make delegating tasks, handling payroll in a timely fashion, staying on top of deadlines, monitoring the workflow, and staying in touch with your team much easier and more efficient. This is the new “simple,” guys.
To help you optimize the efficiency of your team’s communication and work progress, we’re going to take you through several of our favorite organization apps for small businesses. These apps are easy to use and quite intuitive – you’ll be able to manage all things work-related from one place.
Best Apps for Small Businesses
Depending on your workload, team size, budget, and just general business needs, you can decide which one of these apps is right for you. Let’s take a look at how each of them can help your business.
Basecamp is one of the most popular business management apps – and for good reason. It helps you facilitate everything, including:
- Managing different projects from one place;
- Assigning tasks to individual employees, setting up deadlines, and creating schedules and workflow calendars;
- Conversations available under each task;
- Having team chat rooms as well as private messages;
- Creating checklists and assignment batches;
- Daily and weekly check-ins for employees to keep track of workflow, as well as reminders for payroll, etc.
Overall, Basecamp’s user interface design is very intuitive and easy to use.
It’s also quite simple to invite collaborators or clients to your Basecamp account, as the number of users is unlimited, and so is the number of projects you can create.
The downside of all this ease-of-use is that Basecamp lacks some more advanced finance tools. For example, there’s no budgeting software included. However, you can still keep payroll information in a separate project with restricted access to team members. Plus, Basecamp integrates with a host of applications, such as Slack, Gmail, Microsoft Office, Trello, Google everything, etc., which can allow you to stay in touch with clients using different platforms, or to supplement tools for a complete business experience.
In terms of pricing, Basecamp charges a flat rate of $99/month (with a 15% discount if you pay a full year in advance) for businesses. Although this may sound pricey, it does pretty much include all the tools you’d need in a business management tool. Plus, you get 500GB of storage space. They offer a 30-day free trial, discounts for nonprofits, and free accounts for students and teachers. Lastly, there’s also a free version of the app, but it’s quite limited and better for personal projects.
Trello is quite similar to Basecamp in that it allows you to manage various projects, teams, and workflows from one place. The main difference is that Trello’s interface is quite visual, and allows you to manage multiple projects from the same screen simultaneously. So for instance, you can work from one screen to set up several lists and tasks between them.
Not unlike Basecamp (although it works a bit differently here), you get to create cards for different tasks within projects and move them between three categories – to-do, doing, and done. If you’re managing a writing team, for instance, you could name the categories something like assigned, queued to write, queued for editing, and ready to upload. This helps manage workflow, expect when tasks would be completed, and keep track of what the team is up to. You also get to assign tasks to team members, attach files, make checklists, custom cards, and board buttons, and so on.
The app comes with a “butler” which kind of serves to provide notifications about due dates and other important things. Basically, you can set it up to do some of the management work for you. It’s pretty much a notification system, but cuter.
Trello also integrates with complimentary small business apps such as Evernote (great for notes and productivity) and Slack (great for team communication). We’ll go over these two apps as well, later.
Based on which features you need, the pricing options range from free, to $9.99/month (billed annually) per user for the business plan. The enterprise plan is also priced per user, but the fee varies based on how many users are involved.
Like Basecamp and Trello, Asana is also an organization and workflow management app. It allows you to create and assign tasks, make checklists, assign due dates, attach files, chat with your team, and so on. It’s not as visual as Trello or as uncluttered as Basecamp – rather, it’s more text-heavy. But this isn’t necessarily a problem – it just depends on what you prefer. Of course, it still has a user-friendly interface and dashboard charts that give you a quick idea of what’s going on.
If you like making customizable list formats and checklists, you’ll enjoy using Asana. You can set up various prioritization levels for projects, and visually keep track of their progress. Plus, you can set up notifications for you and the members of your team (reminding them of due dates, reminding you to pay your employees, and so on).
Asana offers a free Basic plan for up to 15 users, a great start for small businesses on a tighter budget. For bigger teams, it’s worth looking at the Premium plan, which bills $10.99/month per user, and the Business plan, which costs $24.99/month, per user (billed annually). Check out which features are offered with each plan to see which one’s right for your small business.
Asana integrates with a lot of different apps and services, such as Google Drive, Slack, WordPress, ZenDesk, and Evernote.
All the apps so far were devoted to full-on team and project management. Slack, on the other hand, is a team communication app that is great for small businesses. It offers an easy way to immediately get in touch with employees when something is urgent. Ideally, you would integrate Slack with one of the other project management apps.
Slack doesn’t look very simple to use at the beginning, but once you get used to it, you realize why it’s a great communications app. It allows you to filter and search through conversations to find exactly what you need. You can also have private chats and all sorts of team chats for different purposes. You can also set up custom notifications for yourself and your team.
As Slack integrates with a huge number of apps and software, you can use it for any sort of business. For instance, programmers find Slack quite useful as it integrates with Bitbucket and FastLane, so they can get immediate notifications when there are software version updates.
Slack’s pricing starts off free, and even the free plan has a lot to offer to small businesses. You get integration with 10 popular apps (like Office 365 and Google Drive), one-on-one voice and video calls between members, and access to the most recent 10,000 messages. Plus, you get 5GB of storage space. The premium plans offer more in the way of integrations, unlimited message history, and varying amounts of storage per team member. You also get to make voice and video calls with up to 15 participants. The starting price is $6.67/month, per user, paid annually.
If you just need a simple app to take notes and to-do lists and share them with others, Evernote is a great cost-friendly solution. The main benefit that businesses can get from Evernote is increasing productivity and organization.
Evernote allows you to clip information from the web, search for existing notes with ease, write texts, add images, tables, video, and audio, so it’s a great way to stay organized and on top of things. The free version of Evernote offers most of this, so it’s a great place to start if you’re on a tight budget.
To integrate Evernote with other apps, add multiple team members for collaboration and administration, however, you’ll need to get one of the paid plans. They are still quite affordable, starting at €6.99 / Month.
A Few Words Before You Go…
When choosing an app to manage the workflow of your business, it’s important to first consider the scope of work, the size of your team, and the needs of your operation. If you’re dealing with a larger team, multiple assignments, deadlines, and so on, it’s a good idea to get one of the first three organization and management apps for small businesses – Basecamp, Trello, or Asana.
If you just need an effective channel of communication for your team, you can consider Slack. It’s a great way to get in touch quickly and track down old conversations efficiently.
Lastly, Evernote is an affordable and easy way to keep notes, to-do lists, and increase your productivity. Of course, you can also integrate these options with external apps and software, to optimize the efficiency of your small business.
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