But if we just throw that pressure on our team, they’ll push back. And if we just throw it on ourselves, we’ll burn out.
These are problems that a lot of industries face. The good news is that developers like to solve problems like this. If the solution works, they thrive.
As a software company, we tend to pay attention to software that works. (Plus, we love the same things you do: getting more done in less time. With less stress. And a happier, more productive culture.)
I’ll share with you the applications that we LOVE. Free to these applications, but past the stage of investigation. We’ll use them. We like them. If they solve problem for you, we recommend them.
#1: Let’s start with everybody’s current darling. One of the fastest growing unicorns in software history. Slack.
Why do we love Slack?
It keeps us together. Admittedly, we might be more spread out than you are. We have full time employees in three cities in Oregon. Maine. Utah. Nova Scotia. Vietnam. Slack helps us stay in touch.
We’ve set up “channels” that team members use to communicate on vital, ongoing issues. We’ve set up “private groups” that are like ongoing meetings. And, you can chat any team member directly. Also, because we work with contractors, we can bring them into channels for special projects.
Benefits? Better communication. Stronger culture. Saves a ton of time on company emails. More sharing. (For example, we have an “articles” channel where team members can share interesting or important articles with each other.) Team members can also dip into conversations they don’t normally participate in, just to keep their finger on the pulse of company activities.
Slack also has an easy and robust search function to help you track down previous conversations. It also allows you to upload documents, images and videos.
Downside? None really. This tool is past the “like” territory. We love it.
One thing to be aware of. The whole team really needs to participate. Without almost full participation, even Slack admits that it probably won’t work. Play in it. If it gets your juices going, make the commitment. I would consider this tool to be a must for teams with more than one location. Or, for that matter, any team that would benefit from better communication.
#2: Hackpad. Collaborate. Any time. Any place.
Of course, Agency Revolution is in the business of making stuff. So we have a lot of projects in the works at any time. We’re about to launch our Marketing Best Practices program. We created it on Hackpad. We’re about to launch our Connected Insurance Academy. We created it on Hackpad. We’re about to launch upgrades to our software. Again, Hackpad.
Hackpad is our go-to place when we need to think together.
Benefits? Working together. In real time with other people. Or on your own time. Great place to go from brainstorming to almost final drafts. People can make additions. Add comments. You can organize collections. Formatting is modest, so it’s not designed for final-final.
If you have team members that need to work on projects together – like new agency work-flows, blog ideas, goal setting, planning – Hackpad is worth checking out.
#3: Canva. World class design. Fast. For almost anything.
We all know we need to create content – just to “be there” in the marketplace. But we also know that you need to capture attention. Maintain brand. Use attractive images. And there are so many media!
Canva will help your marketer create great looking content, even if she’s not a designer. And, good news, you’ll save a ton of time and money.
Plus, Canva didn’t leave the off-line world behind. It’ll help you create brochures, proposals and ads, as well as image-rich Twitter, Facebook and other social media posts. And, for those of you who are serious about marketing in the “connected economy,” you can attract and educate consumers with terrific looking slideshows, ebooks, infographics and much more. (And, yes, we believe that insurance agents and brokers should take this connected economy seriously!)
We create tons of content, so we’re lovin’ Canva.
#4: Evernote. Take and keep notes. Everywhere. Organize them. Never lose them.
Evernote’s been taking some heat in the software and business press lately. It’s one of the early billion dollar unicorns, and investors want it to get to the next level.
But it still works as a great place to keep notes. Organize content for projects. It has a flexible organizational structure, using notebooks, notes, and tags. You can upload images, articles, webpages. You can dictate. And, like most of our favorite hacks, it works across all of your platforms – desktop or mobile. The mobile app is super-handy for dictating notes.
If you’ve got big projects, this is a great place to gather your content and organize it.
#5: Pocket. Read more. When you want to. Get smarter about what matters to you.
Too much to read? Ever feel that the moment you see something interesting to read is not the moment you want to read it? Want one place to save articles, tag them, and keep them organized. Then Pocket is the perfect answer. Plus, most platforms where you’re going to discover content you want to save will let you share directly to your Pocket.
And, like most of these applications, they’ll work across devices. That way, you’ll never have a wasted moment. Waiting for plane? Waiting for the doctor? Pull out your phone and get smarter.