We love productivity tools at Quovo. While nothing really beats a whiteboard and a giant pot of coffee, we do have some other weapons in our arsenal. Here are three tools that we’ve started using that allow us to stay busy without losing track of our priorities:
Function: Interoffice Communication
Replaces: Skype, Google Chat
Why We Like it: We were already serious Skype junkies when we learned about Slack. Chatting programs are critical for a tech company, since we often need to inject code snippets, database queries or whole files right into a conversation steam. Plus, when I’m on the road, I can stay in touch with developers without missing a beat. One thing we didn’t use Skype for was calling (we use Smart Phones and landlines instead), so while we liked Skype for its other elements, it never felt like the best fit for our organization. Slack has taken the best elements of Skype chatting (file sharing, group creation, code sharing, etc.) and delivers everything in a streamlined, user-friendly (and, believe it or not, fun) web application. We’re still exploring their myriad integrations and bells and whistles. Sorry Skype, but Quovo’s a Slack company now.
Why We Like it: Let’s face it, Salesforce does everything anybody could ever need in their CRM platform. But sometimes Salesforce feels like trying to kill a mosquito with a sledgehammer. And as a company on Google Enterprise, we cherish any ability to tie CRM as closely to our email platform as possible. Streak -- a Gmail add-on (which meant we needed to be a Google Apps for Work user first) -- gives us the most important pieces of Salesforce right in our Gmail account. It lets us put down the sledgehammer and spend more time tracking, managing and talking to clients -- not sifting through a CRM system.
Function: Project Management
Replaces: Enterprise IT software
Why We Like it: When you’re building a technology product, project management is a sloppy, chaotic process. Features require iteration, testing and often complete reworking -- across collaborators with diverse skills: designers, front-end and back-end engineers, salespeople and, of course, the ultimate arbiter of success -- the customer. Trello is a project management web application that uses a “card”-based system for tracking features, bugs and to-do items. You can build checklists, add files and screenshots, and keep track of each collaborator’s contributions over time. Sometimes the range of options is a bit overwhelming, but it’s rare to find two projects that are ever quite the same, so we enjoy Trello’s flexibility and open architecture.
One thing that all three solutions have in common: they’re 100% free. Call us cheap, or call us forward-thinking (both are probably true) -- but it’s nice to secure some of your fundamental productivity operations at zero cost!
What are your favorite productivity tools? Post you comments and I will respond here.
Lowell Putnam is co-founder and CEO of Quovo, Inc., a data science platform optimized to extract, manage, and analyze financial portfolio data.