The Tools We Use

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  • September 27, 2012
  • Starr Million Baker

“Surely, there has got to be a better way.” That thought has run through my head several times in the past two years as I watched our account teams manage multiple projects via email (man, when are we going to kill that lifesuck?), struggle to enter time in a timely manner, hardly ever do expense reports without numerous nudges and update yet another Excel spreadsheet with contact information. My new mantra? “I love software!” Or apps, or cloud-based software, or SaaS – whatever you want to call it, I call it goodness. Thought I’d share in case you too are looking for ways to streamline operations and make the most of the easy-to-use, easy-to-get software at our fingertips these days:

Basecamp: We rolled out this project management tool almost two years ago now and for the most part we find it an easy way to make sure all to-do’s are covered across each account team. We recently moved from classic to the “new” Basecamp and while we love the new look and super easy navigation, we still miss some of the classic’s functionality, like printing your to-do list (I know, we shouldn’t kill the trees, but there is something oh-so-satisfying about physically marking items off a list). The Basecamp team is rolling out new functionality constantly so we are hopeful for printing, and easy reordering of items on the project landing page. This has been a great tool for jointly managing projects with our clients too.

Highrise: This contact database, and way to track new biz deals too, is simply awesome. I’m actually embarrassed it has taken us this long to use it, but believe me, the power it gives us to put our finger on the best person for the job (with all of the cumulative info our entire team knows about that contact) is amazing. I highly recommend Highrise for any agency or PR pro wanting to get a better handle on their entire universe of contacts.

Harvest: No other software has given me as much joy as this timekeeping tool. And it’s so much more than “just” a timekeeping tool. It helps me keep a pulse on my business, on what we’re selling (hours), on my most cherished inventory (my team) and how they are using their time. The reporting is amazing – I can literally pull up the dashboard and at the blink of an eye see where we stand against budgets, what activities we’re spending the most time on, who’s spending more or less time than expected where. Of course, I can also tell at a glance who has done their time sheet – like I said, pure joy.

InDinero: This online financial tracking tool has been a lifesaver in terms of easily pulling reports (P&L, balance sheet, income due, expenses owed), and analyzing every single spend in one place. I used Quicken for years, but it seemed like overkill and was nowhere near this user friendly. InDinero is the perfect amount of information and ease to run the business side of the business without me wanting to bang my head into my desk. Love it.

Expensify: Um, how did I not know this was out there? Expensify’s motto is “Expense Reports That Don’t Suck” and never have I met a company that lived up to their motto more. I literally just made my expense report for September in 2 minutes – 2. Simple, intuitive, and with the customization I needed to match up with all of the expense categories I use in InDinero. Can’t wait to roll it out to the rest of the team on Monday.

Evernote: I’ve used this one for awhile personally, but am getting excited about the business possibilities with new features rolling out later this year. We could take notes on a client briefing and give access to the rest of the team to see our notes – without ever sending an email or creating a document and saving it to the server. Not only are we saving trees, we’re saving bytes and dodging the pain of hard-drive failures by sharing our information in the cloud. Looking forward to getting this functionality running for the team too.

Lastly, have you set up your start page on Google Chrome yet? You might need to if you have all of these online places you need to go. I like Start! from the Chrome Web Store – and then all of the above have shortcuts you can put on your start page. Makes life easy. You can thank me later. 😉