The Best Online Project Management & Collaboration Tools of 2013

workflowThe web has opened us up to collaborative work on a global scale.  On any given project, we may work with contractors around the globe.  But managing that collaboration requires a tool, or set of tools, that allows asynchronous communication and information sharing.  Picking the right Project Management software is an important decision, and the final choice of tool is going to be highly dependent on both your management style and business needs. Quite some time ago, I posted my list of the 5 best web based project management / collaboration tools.  That list has proven to be one of the more popular posts on this blog, but the landscape has changed a lot, even in the last year.  So, after taking another look at my own workflow, and checking to see if there are any new tools out there that more closely fit my needs, here’s an updated list of some of my favorite Project Management software for 2013.

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The 5 Best Online Project Management & Collaboration Tools

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When working on any software project, it is highly important to be able to plan, manage & track the project. Project management is a highly sought after skill & project management software is a billion dollar per year industry. So what’s a small business owner to do, when good project management software is expensive & hard to use. Luckily, online project management software has been flourishing lately. These tools are SaaS, or software as a service tools, meaning that there is no installation. They run online, and all you need is a web browser. However, as with anything else there are good, bad & indifferent choices. Some are expensive, some are underpowered and some are just too darn complicated to use. So, without further adieu, here are my top 5 choices for managing projects online.
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Make Your Website Work For You!

Setting Goals for small business websites.

When I sit down with a new client, the first thing that I ask is “What do you want to accomplish with this website?” Normally, I get a blank stare, followed by “Well, we just need a website, everybody needs a website, right?” or “My competitors have one, so I should too.”

What most small business owners don’t realize is that your website is a resource, a tangible asset much like a piece of capital equipment. As such, it should provide you with a real, measurable Return On Investment. With that perspective, it becomes easier to understand why you need to set achievable goals for your website. By setting goals, you give yourself a target that you can measure your success against. The bottom line for any website should be the question “How has my website helped grow my business today?” Continue Reading…

Google voice is now online!!!

Hallelujah! Google voice is now open to the public. If you’re not familiar with it, Google Voice is a new service from Google, that allows you to connect all of your various phone numbers together via an easy to use web interface. Voicemail, call forwarding, all of the bells & whistles, all via one phone number. So, fo instance, my new Google number is (919) 386-9321. So, if you call that number, I can set it to ring my cell phone when I’m out of the office, my office phone during business hours, and my home phone in the evening. I can check my voicemail from any phone, or have .mp3’s of my voicemail messages emailed to me. Google Voice has been in a testing phase for several months, but now that it’s public, I foresee big changes in how we communicate.
So what does this mean for your business? Well, you now have the opportunity to be even more accessible to your customers. Imagine having a Google phone number for your customer service department that is completely managed online. Now that’s power. So, I’m advising all of my clients to sign up for a Google voice number immediately. You can request an invitation, here.

Virtual 800 number provider – Cheap virtual phone number

I received a lot of feedback when I last posted about my new partnership with Kall8. Kall8 is a provider of cheap, virtual 800 numbers, as well as online local phone service. From their website:

“Kall8 is the only fully integrated toll-free service that offers traditional 800 service with a complete set of online tools to manage and track your toll free numbers in real time. With Kall8, you can instantly activate and forward your 800 numbers, view calls, and analyze the results of your ad campaigns online. Choose from a variety of toll free numbers to find the perfect one for you!”

The best thing about the service , however, is not the fact that they offer voicemail as well as fax capability, it’s not the fact that they offer a convenient online interface. Frankly, the best thing about the service is how cheap it is! For only $2 a month, you can have a fully functioning virtual 800 number from one of the most respected providers in the industry. In the next few weeks, Hibbitts Consulting will be getting a completely new look, as well as a shiny, new, cheap virtual 800 number. I won’t even have to raise my prices to pay for it. So, if you want to project a professional image, encourage new customers to contact you, and save a little money in the process, visit Kall8’s homepage and give them a try.

Invoicing the easy way

Keeping track of who owes you money, is always a headache for any small business. Thankfully, there are several helpful tools out there that can help you stay on top of managing invoices. Two web based tools of note are Freshbooks
and Blinksale. Both are simple to use, easy to manage and contain powerful features that allow you to generate invoices, invoice templates, enter paymentsetc… You can even (for a fee) have your invoices mailed automatically. Freshbooks also has a very nice integrated time-tracker that allows you to track the time you spend on specific projects. However, for my money, nothing beats Bamboo Invoice.
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