There are no shortage of tools for your remote team articles, but I’ve always found them super helpful and I end up finding a great new tool for our business. Here are some of the tools we use for our remote team on a daily basis. I’m including a few more technical tools that we use for our web business that you may find helpful as well. Some of these you’ve surely seen before which is a testament to the quality of their products. We’re always looking for cool new products to use so feel free to share your recommendations with us!
Remote Team Tools
Who’s doing what? What is in progress? Trello is your go-to task manager, global sticky board, and tracking tool. The simplicity of Trello is that if you’re used to writing task lists on post-it notes and sticking them on your wall, congratulations, you’re qualified to use Trello! There’s certainly a lot more to Trello, but their “Power-Ups” supercharge your productivity and help get everything on the same page (or card in this case). We use Trello as a really simple way to keep task lists organized and for tracking basic support requests. Trello is also great as a brain dump tool to just get all of your ideas out there to be organized later.
Gone are the days of endless CC email chains and random chat programs. Slack has taken over as the way to keep in touch with your team. The Slack App Directory is rock solid and continues to grow. Slack basically becomes your communications hub where all of your notifications, chats, and emails (because you stopped sending them, right?) can live. Also, a fun integration we’ve been testing recently is with Drift (another killer app we’ll probably write about soon). Drift + Slack lets you actually chat with visitors on your website (or users within your app) in realtime without having to use yet another app.
One great use we’ve found for Github specifically is to have public repos for items we tend to share a lot. Here’s Cavendo’s public Github profile. We share our brand assets through a public repo that includes access to our logos and color guidelines. With Bitbucket, we have found their issue tracking feature to be super useful for tracking bugs, feature requests, and even simple support requests. Since every one of our clients’ sites has its own repo, we can easily track bugs or technical support requests (that require code changes at least) in one place. Oh, and since Git has built-in version control everything is easy to roll-back in case we need to restore an older copy or look at a project’s work history.
4. Basecamp 3
If you’ve ever been involved in a web project at any level, you’ve probably heard of Basecamp. If you haven’t, Basecamp (formerly 37signals) has continued to refine this pillar of the software world (they’ve also brought us gems like REWORK). Managing project and client communication is beyond a hassle with regular email and Basecamp has really, really, nailed it with their latest release of Basecamp 3. If you’ve used them before and were worried about client messaging or if certain features didn’t work the way you wanted, give their new version a shot. They detailed all of the new changes with Basecamp 3. We’ve found the “Clientside” feature to be particularly awesome and lets us really keep a handle on client communications including getting approvals for specific milestones and tasks.
There are no shortage of VoIP options out there and we’ve tried them all. We really liked Grasshopper but Dialpad (formerly Switch.co) is honing in on the perfect setup. Their apps (Chrome, iPhone, etc) are super easy to use and they let us port all of our numbers in. They recently added the ability to send and receive faxes (we all have that one client who still uses fax). We’re even more excited about UberConference which is like WebEx but without all of the baggage. UberConference lets us setup a conference call and send out the invites in a second. The screenshare during a call is super easy with their Chrome plugin, and you get an emailed call summary at the end. Conference calls are already a hassle but with UberConference we’re able to get in, have our discussion, and get on with our day.
I shouldn’t have to tell you how much of a bad idea it is to store your passwords in Excel. Add in multiple users needing access to the same password and it really doesn’t make any sense (you wouldn’t share your Excel spreadsheet full of plain-text passwords now would you?). We locked in on Lastpass a few years ago and it’s been a lifesaver. With LastPass Enterprise, we can easily create rules for sharing passwords internally and externally, require two-factor authentication, and setup other rules as we see fit. With their browser plug-ins, mobile apps, and the ability to automatically reset passwords, it’s a solid choice for your small and growing team. Now you can rely on those 50 character ridiculously complex passwords with impunity!
Fun trick: make your usernames more complex, too, since LastPass will store that info and auto-fill when you’re on their website.
Honorable mention (and solid competitor): 1Password.
If you still rely on inbound calls, and don’t want to go the do-it-yourself auto attendant route, Ruby Receptionists is hands-down the way to go. We’ve worked with their team periodically over the years. While they provide much more than just software (you have their entire team of fantastic receptionists), they add a personal touch that no other technology can replace. Ruby will route your calls based on your instructions, hold calls, take messages, deliver a live caller to you, or tell them to stop calling.
Additional Tools for Remote Teams
Here are some more technical tools we use a lot that you may find useful, even if you’re not a tech company.
I can’t stress the importance of a solid DNS setup (blog post forthcoming on this topic). I cringe every time I see a domain name sitting in a Network Solutions or GoDaddy account using their built-in DNS manager with weak security (think, super easy passwords and no two-factor authentication). CloudFlare solves all of these issues for you. First, it’s completely independent of your domain registrar. Second, they’re rock solid. One of our client sites in particular receives 2-3+ million unique visitors a month and switched over to CloudFlare (another post coming on this one). CloudFlare helps not only manage your basic DNS entries but they provide a layer of caching so you can reduce the load that ultimately reaches your servers. Seriously, check them out. You don’t need millions of visitors. The basic CloudFlare account is free — hopefully it stays that way — and will handle probably 90% of the websites out there.
Forms are the bane of any website’s existence. There are a lot of different ways of handling the setup and delivery of web forms, but we’ve used Wufoo since 2009 and they’ve been like a rock. As with any SaaS product we worry about downtime or accessibility issues but with Wufoo we haven’t had any issues. Most of the forms we deploy are your basic contact form or info request forms, but Wufoo does have some great integrations for web hooks, payments, and other great options. Wufoo provides some basic analytics that show how successful (or not) your forms are, the ability to export submissions by Excel/CSV, and multi-user access. Plus, you can integrate the forms directly on your website in seconds and easily update them without having to change the code.