We’ve been a software startup for a few years and have had the fortunate opportunity to work with developers, designers and freelancers from all around the world remotely. Due to the fact that we are a small team (with limited resources), we work from home and collaborate with individuals on a daily basis that are not in the same office space at the same time. There are a bunch of tools that we’ve been using for years as well as news ones mostly recently that we’d love to share with you to help a newcomer to this world be able to do their work efficiently. Here are the top tools we are using internally at Notetracks to build our own products. Feel free to add your own suggestions at the end of the article.
The phone is always great to discuss but calls can sometimes get lengthy. The way that we communicate fast internally is a messaging tool called Slack. Slack is a simple chat application that allows team members to be able to communicate privately. You can create a Slack account, invite your team members all in one private space. You can chat with each other and even make group channels where you could chat about specific topics and invite only certain members. For instance #marketing, #product or #sales, etc. In some cases, we still use WhatsApp and Text Messages that are a little less business oriented. Slack keeps all of our team discussions and attachments in one place versus having communication spread over a bunch of apps.
Overall, it’s great and also fun to work with (they’ve got a gang of emojis that are lit) with a desktop and mobile application.
It goes without saying that we use email (more precisely Gmail) for general communication and more formal / important topics. Emails are also mostly used for external communication versus internal.
When we need to have team discussions, face-to-face meetings, interviews, we use Zoom. We’ve been using Zoom for almost over a year now and it’s been great to get multiple people on board and have one on one meetings. Prior to that, we were using Skype and still use it from time to time in the case when certain folks are familiar and already have it installed. Zoom can handle video calls but you also have the option to have audio calls and gives you a dial in number. What’s also great about Zoom (as well as Skype) is the ability to screen share and showcase your work to others to collect feedback.
FaceTime, Phone and WhatsApp calls are definitely other tools we use to communicate however again a bit less business oriented and only used when necessary.
For project management, we use a Trello board. Trello is basically a Kanban board, which is a type of framework used in software development. We have Trello boards for each department, with cards that are tasks and move them across categories called “To Do”, “In Progress” and “Done” depending on which state they’re in. Trello is great because it visually gives you a task list and that you’re able to keep track of and know who’s working on which tasks and which have been completed. It's a simple visual project management tool.
If you’d like to get a little bit more deeper into project management with calendar views, dependencies (things that can’t be done before something else is), there are specific project management apps such as Asana, Smartsheet or Basecamp. We are currently trying out a new one called Freedcamp introduced by one of our partners. It’s free, lightweight and seems to be getting the job done effectively.
We use G Suite by Google for our internal documentation and storage needs. Google Docs is our goto for documents, Sheets for our spreadsheets and Drive for any internal files.
For larger files we need to share publicly we use Dropbox or WeTransfer (for larger files).
They are tools that are simple, everyone is familiar with and give the ability to create, share, and use collaboratively.
FEEDBACK ON SOFTWARE
Due to the fact that we are in the software development, we use a platform called JIRA to handle all our software bugs, our more detailed software development tasks. It is a collaboration platform for software developers.
FEEDBACK ON DESIGNS
We also use a platform called InVision that allows us to collaborate on product and marketing designs. It allows you to remotely collaborate and give feedback directly on designs provided by graphic designers from around the world.
Another tool that we use on a daily basis to visually understand what's going on is a video screen capture tool called Loom. Loom essentially makes quick time screen recordings however saves you the hassle of making a recording, saving it and uploading to the cloud to share. Loom allows you to quickly make a screen recording of the video along with including your face thumbnail if you'd like to host the video or not and share it instantly with a public link after its done. It allows you to quickly record what you're working on to describe it to somebody.
We use Loom for bug reporting and product development where we want to show a specific feature. It's a great way to screen record and share a video with somebody internally and helps tremendously in getting the point across without having to explain it on Slack, the phone or an email.
FEEDBACK ON AUDIO / VIDEO
Lastly, shameless plug for audio collaboration, you know we just got to plug our own app here. For audio/video analysis or review, whether it’s a podcast review or reviewing a marketing video, we do use the Notetracks platform internally to be able to share projects with others remotely and get feedback and move projects forward.
Lastly, shameless plug for audio collaboration, you know we had to plug our own app. For any audio/video analysis or review, whether it's a podcast, music for a marketing video or even this article that was originally recorded in a Voice Memo and uploaded to Notetracks for review to be transcribed and written; we love using our own platform to be able to share projects with others remotely and get feedback precisely on the audio timeline to move (our) projects forward.
No matter which combination of tools that you use, it’s all about moving the job forward and finding out what works best for your and your team. We’ve tested many tools but at the end of the day, simplicity is key. We chose these tools because they are simple, folks are familiar with them, they are powerful to use and they get the job done. So if you would like to add any other tools or if you have any other questions, comment in the section below what else!