With the growing trend of business tools online (Software as a Service) I’d like to share some of the business productivity tools we use at Refresh Creative Media. Some of these are free online tools and others justify their costs by greatly increasing our productivity and communication.
Google Apps is an excellent tool for small businesses that need their business email, documents, calendars, etc. online. With a little configuration on your domain, you can get Google Apps for your business and send email using your domain with Gmail as the interface. You can also easily get rid of the irritating “Sent on behalf of” message by changing a couple of settings. Google Calendar is included as part of apps and works brilliantly for keeping track of your colleagues movements, and company date specific info, for example employee sick days.
Other apps included are Docs, (useful for documents shared amongst a group) Groups, (Mailing lists and content sharing) Sites, (Intranets and team websites) and Google Video for video sharing. Google Apps for your business is not free however, and costs $50 per user per year, and you also have access to the Google Apps Marketplace which provides products and services that integrate with Google Apps.
MediaWiki is software originally developed for use on Wikipedia by the Wikimedia foundation. At Refresh Creative Media we use MediaWiki to store and share software how-to’s, and design or development briefs, supplier information, and background information on our clients.
A possible alternative to MediaWiki is Google sites, but the ease of use and easy wiki editing features of MediaWiki has made it a favourite in our office.
MediaWiki is free and you can download a copy of MediaWiki at their official site. (It requires some basic PHP, MySQL skills for setup)
Socialcast is enterprise microblogging for your company, enabling real-time sharing of information via streams of regularly updated posts or documents from people within your network.
The basic free version provides more than enough functionality to increase your small businesses productivity and communication. The Premuim edition can be hosted on your server, while the Enterprise edition provide greater security and integration with your company systems. Socialcast also provides a host of applications from the Air app for your desktop, mobile apps, and Gmail and Outlook integration. View the Socialcast enterprise pricing structures here.
Wrike (besides being tricky on the tongue) boosts your teams productivity with intuitive online project management. Projects can be imported easily from an Excel template, and tasks can be presented in a timeline or list format. An intelligent e-mail engine fits in with your working process by allowing creation or editing of projects or tasks via email.
Managers can easily create task reports of team member activities, and automated e-mail notifications keep everyone in the team updated on their projects. Test drive the 30-day trial version of Wrike here.
Prezi is an innovative presentation tool that uses a single large format canvas, and allows you to zoom in and out of focus areas that you create. Paths can be created for your final presentation which auto zooms in and out of your content. It allows importing of flash animations, flash video, all image content, and even YouTube videos.
With Prezi you are able to create the presentations online or download an Air app which can be synced with your online presentations. The styling is fairly limited with Prezi with 9 set styles to choose from, but for $450 you can get a custom branded style for your company. There are 3 pricing plans available free, enjoy (R59/year), Pro ($159) which allow removal of the Prezi watermark, and marking your content as private as 2 of the features. Take a look at the online showcase of public Prezi apps to get you started.
These are a couple of the tools we use on a daily basis at Refresh Creative Media, to increase the productivity and communication within our team. Is your company using any other online tools that improve your company’s productivity? Please share with us below.
Questions on the use of any of these apps? Contact us at Refresh Creative Media.