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Tools for Collaborative Remote Working

By Wendy Tate, Mar 31 2020 12:21PM

Disasters can happen without warning. However, your business cannot afford to simply halt operations until the crisis ends. The main priority is to keep operations running smoothly, minimize any losses, and maintain a great customer service.

With the cloud revolution we have experienced in the last 10 years or so there is a solution out there for every business function, allowing companies to continue working and collaborating during a crisis. So if you’re adopting flexible and remote work during the lockdown period, below are some of the tech tools that can empower your team.

Firstly, do you need to get documents such as contracts and service level agreements signed by your customers/clients, here are three options for you to look at.

Adobe Sign is an enterprise e-signing solution with similar features to SignEasy and DocuSign. Adobe Sign offers many integrations, allowing you to e-sign documents online, as well as track them.

DocuSign allows your customers, and you, to sign contracts electronically, so important business deals aren’t delayed. DocuSign encrypts e-documents and e-signatures as well as creates a unique hash for these. This hash can be used to verify authenticity; it can indicate whether a document does not match the signed one that was originally uploaded. Aside from e-signatures, DocuSign also offers contract lifecycle management, document integration, and contract negotiation. It’s also accessible by mobile.

Like DocuSign, SignEasy is a cloud-based solution for people to sign and fill out documents. It can be accessed from a computer or mobile device, and signatures made on the platform are also compliant with the ESIGN Act as well as the eIDAS and the European Directive (EC/1999/93).

Being able to keep collaborate on projects can be key for many, there are various tools out there including which is a visual project management tool that helps transform the way teams work together. It is a simple but intuitive tool that enables people to manage work, meet deadlines, and build a culture of transparency. A single board allows them to see who is working on what, instantly providing information on where things stand. Users are able to track what the team is working on, consequently empowering them to achieve their goals and have fun while getting things done. Different teams need different things at different times, so flexibility is key. Manage any workflow or process and be ready to address any challenge from the simple to the not-so-simple with total ease. Build and customize your dashboards to gain important insights and a clear overview of your work.

Wrike is an online project and work management platform that has powerful tracking, collaboration, and reporting features. Features such as dynamic request forms, interactive Gantt charts, and customizable dashboards provide users the ability to streamline and automate processes that help their business to be efficient, competitive and productive. There are ready solutions also for specialized teams such as Wrike for Marketers that comes with tailor-made tools fitting for marketing and creative teams. Customizable workflows, fields, and folder structures allow teams to be flexible in the way they do work, and integrations are plenty, including for CRM, messaging, and accounting, to name a few categories. A free plan and several premium plans on a per user per month pricing are offered.

Teamwork is a project management tool that helps teams to improve collaboration, visibility, accountability — and ultimately, results. It’s highly customizable and intuitive, built to support how you and your team like to work regardless of which methodology you use. Drill into the time each team member has allocated to their tasks and quickly see what bandwidth is still available on the team with Workload. Build personalized Dashboards to show key project metrics for you and your team and see how your work is tracking at a glance with activity timelines. Get a high-level overview on groups of projects and spot the bottlenecks with Portfolio. Use boards to visualize the flow of tasks and provide your team with a true representation of project workload. Teamwork offers multiple time-saving, collaboration-enhancing features to make project management quicker and more efficient.

If you need to share files as part of your collaboration there are two popular options here many companies use Google Drive to collaborate on and share files, especially larger ones that e-mail can’t handle. These range from word documents to spreadsheets and presentation slides.

Aside from the platform’s robust permissions settings (you can decide exactly who can access which files and the level of access), Google Drive also provides a myriad of collaboration methods on a project.

For example — say you require feedback on a report. Simply share a PDF through Google Drive. The recipient can then highlight specific sections and leave comments anywhere on the document. Users can be tagged or assigned tasks through comments and will be notified through email. Collaboration is in real-time with multiple people, both within your business and outside of it. Google Drive is free, but you can pay an additional fee for more cloud storage space.

The second popular option is Dropbox it was originally just a file-sharing service, but it has since evolved to improve collaboration. For example, you can comment on files added by your colleagues or customers and Dropbox Paper enables your team and customers to work on documents together simultaneously. You can also assign tasks and to-do lists. One convenient feature of Dropbox is the ability to share folders and files with your clients even if they do not have a Dropbox account. This means they can easily access and download folders and documents, without compromising on security.

Face to Face meetings are impossible at the moment so many are switching to virtual meetings using video conferencing tools such as Zoom, Slack or Skype. Zoom is a popular option and can be used to host webinars in place of in-person events or meetings. The free Zoom plan lets you host meetings for up to 40 minutes. Not only can you host video calls — you can also share screens, whiteboard, control screens remotely, and enjoy HD video and audio. Their premium plan allows you to invite up to 100 participants and host meetings for up to 24 hours. This helps you keep important client meetings going even if you, your team, and/or client has implemented alternative work arrangements.

Slack is a communication tool that lets you create chat rooms (channels) organised by topic, send direct messages and documents, and make voice or video calls to anyone within your company. Some of Slack’s best features are the ability to create bots and search any and all documents that have been shared on the platform.

Slack’s API allows users to create applications and automate processes based on certain triggers. It is highly compatible with many types of applications, frameworks, and services, such as Google Drive, Trello, Dropbox and many more.

I couldn’t write a blog post on remote working without championing Xero. Xero offers a cloud-based accounting software platform for small and medium-sized businesses. It is one of the most robust accounting platforms on the market. Xero’s single unified ledger enables users to work together regardless of their location or device. Some of its features include automatic bank feeds, invoicing, purchase orders, and standard business and management reporting. It also supports multiple tax rates and currencies.

Xero together with the App Marketplace, a business can effectively establish a cloud-based operations platform that mimics a super-app and serves as a single source of truth for their business health. With over 800 apps ranging from payroll and HR systems to industry-specific software and tools Xero can be integrated with systems for inventory management, eCommerce, time-tracking, reporting, debtor tracking, and more. With this, a business can effectively establish a cloud-based operations platform that mimics a super-app and serves as a single source of truth for their business health.

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