Running a service business is hard.
I should know – I used to run one.
It’s a business in which time quite literally equals money. Waste a single second, and you’re eating into your margins.
Or even worse, a project that you thought would take 4 weeks takes you 6 weeks. The delay in your deliverable means a delay in a paycheck from your client, and you risk becoming a cash flow negative business.
Running an agency is all about maximizing your productivity, and the productivity of your team.
And chances are, if you’re running a small service based business these days, you have a remote team; meaning your employees live in all parts of the world.
Below is a list of workflow software tools that will help you maximize the productivity in your business.
WorkflowMax is an all in one platform to manage your small to mid sized service based business.
With WorkflowMax, you can do everything from manage your leads, to create your proposals, to track time on your projects, and even do your accounting.
WorkflowMax allows entrepreneurs who run agencies, engineering firms, construction companies and other service companies to manage their entire company “with the push of a button”.
According to a case study on their website, Aukland based engineering firm Steelcraft was able to save over $50,000 in yearly admin costs by running WorkflowMax as they were from a 6 person company to a 50 person company.
WorkflowMax has a wide array of software tools that it integrates with. So if you’re currently using a tool that you want to continue to use, chances are, WorkflowMax will be able to accommodate you.
One of the best collaboration tools for service based companies.
Google Docs provides free online spreadsheets, document management, and presentation development with a Gmail/Google Account.
The ease of collaboration on each of the tools they have is extremely useful when you have multiple people working on the same project at the same time. This is something that you cannot do as easily in Microsoft Office applications.
You can use Google Docs effectively as a company “wiki” where anyone in the company is able to add any information to the document.
One of the fastest growing startups in the tech space is the team messaging application Slack.
Still communicating with your team via email? Do you want a way to search for conversations that you’ve had with your team? Do you want to organized these conversations by project or by client?
Slack allows you to communicate with your team in an organized manner. You can integrate with various applications to enhance project communication.
For example in our company, we use Slack’s integration with Codeship to allow our developers to receive notifications via Slack when code updates occur.
You can use it to notify project managers when various milestones are completed.
While millions of people use the popular project management tool Basecamp, we wanted to give a shout out to Asana.
Asana is cloud platform that enables all of your employees to log in no matter where they are, as long as they have a wifi connection. The dashboard consists of three panels in order to give you all of the data you need on a given project.
As a business owner, Asana will give you an overview to all projects currently going on in your organization. This is the information on the left hand side of the dashboard. Once you click on a particular project, the middle of the dashboard will allow you to zoom in on the tasks associated with the project. And finally, the right hand side of the dashboard will be even more granular. There you can see who is assigned to a particular task and when it is due.
The platform allows users to attach files from a computer, Google Drive, or Dropbox to any particular task.
One of the best parts about Asana is there is a free version for businesses that are on a budget.
So many times when you’re in a service based business, you don’t know exactly how long a project will take to complete.
For instance, if you’re running a marketing agency, you’ll want to know if it takes your team 10 hours or 15 hours to build a website. Time tracking for agencies is really essential.
By keeping track of the number of hours a person works on a particular project, you’ll know how much to quote your customers so that you can optimize the profitability on each project.
Also, because time is money in your service based business, using Time Doctor will allow you to track how your team is using their time while working. You’ll see which applications and websites they’re using throughout the day and receive reports so that you can monitor their productivity.
Running a service based business is no easy task, especially if you’re managing a remote team.
By using the workflow software tools discussed in the article above, you’ll be able to improve the workflow, team communication, and profitability within your service based business.
Rob Rawson is a co-founder of Time Doctor which is software to improve work productivity and help keep track of what your team is working on, even when working remotely.