The internet has become a critical business tool that has resulted in worldwide access to services, products, and information. This accessibility, along with rapid innovation, has created a commercial environment that allows remote teams to flourish. Wall Planning & Environmental Consulting is one of the many remote businesses that rely on online tools to provide quality services and meet deadlines.
We thought we would share some of the terrific online tools we use and take a look at how they help our business and how understanding our own needs has helped us find what works.
How Do We Know Exactly What We Need?
When you start a business, it’s hard to know everything you need from the get go. It’s once you settle into patterns, start developing standard operating procedures, and muck around a bit with the multitude of online tools that you get an idea of what you need.
It’s a different story for every business and business owner. With so many options out there, it just takes a little trial and error to find what works best for you. As a starting point, here are your most common types of online tool:
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
- Project Management
- Digital Marketing
- Design & Publication
- Team Collaboration
Customer Relationship Management
Customer Relationship Management, or CRM, software is used to manage relationships with customers through streamlined processes and communication tracking to ensure business relationships are nurtured and leads aren’t dropped. It’s a one-stop-shop for all your business contact details, notes, and workflow processes to make sure the needs of customers and stakeholders are met each step of the way.
HubSpot – Whilst this is not the CRM that WPE utilise anymore, it’s a fantastic and comprehensive CRM package that stores contacts and leads, helps create processes to maintain quality customer relationships, and has the capacity to handle a big proportion of your digital marketing needs, including online forms, email campaigns, social media, and website blog and landing pages.
Why did we stop using HubSpot? Simply because it was doubling up on things our other tools did and we just weren’t using it the way it was supposed to be used. It just didn’t quite fit our company.
Teamwork CRM – This is the CRM software we are currently using. We already utilised Teamwork for project management and the simplicity of the software suits our needs, so it felt natural to roll our CRM and PM into one neat package! Whilst Teamwork doesn’t manage digital marketing, it does maintain contacts and leads, track opportunities and client communication processes, syncs with your email, and tracks products sold to customers. Having this seamlessly mesh with our project management system makes life so much easier!
Project Management, or PM, software is a must have for any business. This software is used to track a project and its individual tasks from beginning to end to help ensure deadlines are met and everything that needs to be done IS done.
Teamwork – Teamwork is a great, user-friendly PM system to use. Within the project, we can assign team members, maintain shareable notes about the project, track progress, and track project budget. Teamwork allows us to plan our workloads, assign tasks, and track our time. What we also think is cool are the integrations available for things like invoicing and linking to project folders in programs like Google Drive and Dropbox.
This section really covers a broad spectrum of different software available out there, but we’ve included it to highlight how differently things can be done to suit a business.
Social Media Posting – Originally, we utilised HubSpot for everything. And it was great for straightforward posts on LinkedIn and Facebook. However, as we delved deeper into all the cool and interesting things you can do on LinkedIn, such as polls, we realised those functions weren’t available via HubSpot. We now post and schedule directly to LinkedIn and Facebook.
Website Forms and Landing Pages – Again, we originally utilised HubSpot for this. It particularly came in handy for us to create blogs, forms, and landing pages that were accessible for our outsourced website team to transfer the information onto our website. We now have onboard staff members who are skilled enough to make changes and write blog articles directly on WordPress and so do a lot of it ourselves! We get our website analytics directly from Google Analytics.
Email Campaigns – Once we had made the decision to shift to new software, we decided on Mailchimp for our monthly newsletters and announcements. It’s a really creative, simple piece of software for pulling together eye-catching and engaging communications. It also has an easy-to-understand analytics section, so you can see what is working and what isn’t!
Design & Publications
We doubt this recommendation will be a revelation – it’s insane (and yet not) that Canva has become such a wildly popular and widely used design tool. Suddenly, small businesses are able to produce high quality posters, flyers, business cards and other publications when hiring a graphic designer isn’t a viable option. And it’s just so fun!
Aside from standard marketing publications, we also use Canva to create images for our newsletters, social media, website and blog articles. Recently, we started using Canva to create reports that require a lot of images and design features, such as Master Plan Reports. This allows us to provide something more dynamic that our clients can share with their stakeholders.
Did you know you can even create some merchandise on Canva, too??
Team Collaboration isn’t a specific type of software, however having a variety of platforms available for sharing information with other team members is a critical part of running a remote team.
Google Workspace – this is a great collection of productivity and collaboration tools that we use every day. Our company emails and calendars are accessed through Gmail and Google Calendar and we use Google Meet for our team video meetings (we can have meetings that go as long as we want). And that’s just scratching the surface of what is included!
Whilst we do use Microsoft 360 for the majority of our word processing, Workspace gives us access to things like Google Sheets and Google Docs when we need to edit documents in GDrive when we’re on the go.
Teamwork Spaces – This is, in essence, our intranet. We have created an environment that is user-friendly and gives our team access to our policies, service forms and templates, standard operating procedures, video tutorials, and lots more! It’s simple and clean and a really handy part of the Teamwork package.
Loom – This is a really fantastic and straightforward program for making things like short training videos through webcam and screen share. Whilst upgrading your access level will allow for longer recording sessions and more space to save videos, we’re really happy using the free version, which allows for 5-minute videos. This is actually really good because it keeps any training and information dissemination in digestible bite-sized chunks. We then save our videos on Google Drive where we have a ton of space and make them accessible through Teamwork Spaces.
Zoom – Whilst we do use Google Meet for our team meetings, whenever we need to record a meeting or training session, we use Zoom instead (recording is only available on Google Meet with specific packages). It’s also a great option for recordings that really need to be longer than 5 minutes. We’re doing great with the free version, keeping our videos to 45 minutes, but you can pay to extend the time limits.
Our Successful Remote Team
With the help of some fantastic online collaborative tools, Wall Planning & Environmental Consulting’s experienced and motivated team provides high quality, well planned, and timely services in:
- Town Planning
- Master Plans
- Social Impact Assessments
- Community & Stakeholder Engagement
- Environmental Planning
Contact us today and learn more in your free 20-minute consultation.