We have a small team here so every one wears many hats and understands how important it is to get things done faster and better with the right tools. Here are the 7 apps that "power" our operation and if you happen to be running a small business or aren't too happy with what your corporate I.T. department offers, check these out:
1. Google Apps - free email for custom domain
Did you know that you can use Gmail with your own domain name, e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org? Google Apps (free edition) allows up to 50 user accounts so it's perfect for us. What we like most are:
- Simple interface for adding/removing accounts and aliases instantly. You don't need an IT support.
- Ability to use custom domain like http://mail.beansbox.com for web and mobile access.
- Superb uptime. More reliable than any other *paid* email hosting service we've used.
The only caveat is the accessibility of Google services in Mainland China. So if your operation is based in China or you travel there a lot, this could be a problem.
2. Basecamp - project collaboration
After we hired our third staff in 2004, we realized that emails just didn't work for collaboration. It was impossible to keep up with dozens of email threads for projects every day, and to keep track of what's going on, what needs to be done and organize all assets and communications.
We started using Basecamp for all our client projects in early 2005. For us, the most important feature of a collaboration tool is "simplicity". We absolutely need every one to use the tool, including our clients, to really benefit from it.
So instead of searching for the tool with the most features that fit our needs, we looked for the simplest one - one with a dead simple interface, and one that plays well with email - so clients who are typically used to emails or aren't tech-savvy at all still feel at ease.