(02) 8319 5850 christie@benelds.com.au

The Tools That Power Our Remote Team

by | Remote Work, Software Solutions

The Tools That Power Our Remote Team

by | Sep 23, 2016

Jake Lunniss
COO

Working in a remote team can, at the same time, be almost no different to working in an office, and completely alien.

And while it can be very similar to office work, and while we use the same tools as office-based companies, our reliance on them is significantly greater.

The importance of selecting the right tools is absolute: if something should fail, there’s no way we can just pop over to Shar in HR and speak to her instead.

A lot of our customers have shown an interest in the (wide, wide) range of tools we use to keep connected, organised and sane – so here’s a list of our favourites.

Slack

Slack for Remote Teams

Slack is everything. Slack is life. Slack is literally the only tool we could not do without. I cannot overemphasise my love for slack.

Billed as a “chat” app, an enormous range of integrations, bots and cool features make it so much more than that.

It’s how we communicate.

I’ve talked a lot about the importance of leaving your inbox to customer communications and spam, and slack is the reason it’s possible.

We have the #watercooler channel for inane babble and inappropriate gifs (and obviously this channel gets by FAR the most traffic). We have the #ikop channel for chat specific to the Infusionsoft outsourcing program, a #support channel to talk about support requests that we’re working on as a group, and a #general for miscellaneous businessy talk.

It’s how we know what’s happening in all our other systems.

When a new Kickstart assignment comes in, the notification comes to the #ikop channel in Slack. When a deliverable is due in a project in Trello, a notification comes to the deliverable’s owner in Slack.

When a new customer comes onboard, the whole team is notified in Slack. When a support request goes to helpscout, a notification goes to slack where the whole team can view what’s being asked for, not just the support team in helpscout.

When someone registers for one of our user groups in eventbrite, the whole team is notified, and a task to call them is created for our CDM, Fiona.

I’ve even integrated our (complex) Xero/Workato integration with Slack, so that at certain points in the recipe, a notification is created in Slack for a problem to be fixed.

Building systems that support your human activity is the #1 goal of automation, and slack makes it easy for us to see what happening everywhere, all in one place.

It has some awesome built-in features.

It has a host of other cool stuff that could be a post in itself. You can create reminders for yourself or another team mate, you can instantly create trello cards from messages; you can use bots to communicate with and pull information from integrated systems (seriously – you can use it to ask for “Bob Smith’s email address” and it’ll scrape it from Infusionsoft); you can integrate your favourite blogs’ RSS feeds so new posts go to slack; you can instantly create hangouts for members of the channel you’re in or every slack user; you can even mute notifications and not hear anything until you want to, and slack will create a digest for you.

And, of course, Giphy:

Slack for Small Business

Totally professional.

I cannot overstate my love for slack.

Building systems that support your human activity is the #1 goal of automation, and slack makes it easy for us to see what happening everywhere, all in one place.

Trello

Trello is how we manage our workload, whether that means personal projects, internal projects, blog content, developing new products or, of course, customer projects.

Every team member has a personal board, and any time we need someone else to do something, it gets added to the “incoming” list on their personal board.

Our clients projects follow a fixed structure we developed (which I’m 100% sure has been done a million times before, but hey, I feel good about it): a combination of TPM, Agile and Lean methodologies. We have a gantt chart that enables an overall project view for the CDM and Project Manager; projects are broken up into shippable components a-la Agile, and each component has a checklist a-la Lean.

When we get an email that we need to action, it gets forwarded to our personal boards. When a card’s due date is approaching, we get notifications in Slack.

We also use Zapier to create recurring cards for complex tasks, complete with checklists. Every month Fiona has to start a new process for the user group in North Sydney; this mini-system creates a safety net for her, so she can complete the task confident that no key steps have been missed.

Trello isn’t perfect, but it ticks the three most important boxes when we’re choosing software: it integrates, it’s mobile, and it’s easy to use.

Trello ticks the three most important boxes when we're choosing software: it integrates, it's mobile, and it's easy to use.

Infusionsoft

Infusionsoft Of course, we use Infusionsoft. Its phenomenal flexibility, seamless flow between CRM, marketing automation, sales processing, fulfilment automation, integrations with our accounting platform and project management platform, and slack, and…

…Infusionsoft is pretty important to running our business.

Most widely known as an email marketing tool, in reality it’s a “process” tool. You can have simple “opt-in to sales call” systems:

Infusionsoft Campaign Simple

All the way through to complex, multi-stage customer onboarding and product delivery that spans several campaigns:

We use Infusionsoft as our CRM, for appointment setting (with a plugin), for sales (taking credit card payments for projects with a customisable quote tool), for marketing via email, and for a product delivery system (integrating with a number of other systems) – it really is the backbone of our business.

Infusionsoft has a seamless flow between CRM, marketing automation, sales processing, fulfilment automation, accounting and project management.

Google Apps

Email, video chat, calendar, file sharing, word documents, spreadsheets, forms, presentations, and intranet.

Google apps is a biggy, and another system that we couldn’t do without.

Gmail is, surprisingly enough, our email platform of choice. It integrates smoothly with a number of platforms, including allowing automated “personal emails” via Zapier.

Google Calendar is vital to our business, integrates with our appointment setting platform, and syncs instantly across all devices.

Google Drive is how we store all our files, not just the ones we want to share. Just last week our CDM killed her laptop with a leaky water bottle, but other than the mild inconvenience of having to claim on insurance, it wasn’t a problem because everything was on cloud storage. I’m going to be very blunt: if you’re not using cloud storage for your files, you’re an idiot.

Docs, sheets and slides have replaced the need for Microsoft Office in all but very rare cases when we have to turn to excel for something complicated. But now that I think of it, that hasn’t happened for a couple of years. The live document collaboration is useful when it’s useful, but the real benefit (for us, at least) is the automatic Google Drive cloud storage.

Finally, Google Sites is our company intranet, where we store documented processes and policies, and share with the team with a permissions structure that means they only see what they need to see.

If you're not using cloud storage for your files, you're an idiot.

Helpscout

Helpscout is our customer support tool. I can’t call it a ticketing system, because it intentionally is not.

Where other support tools focus on tickets and macros, Helpscout’s focus is on allowing their customers to keep their customers happy. And while it’s light on features that would be useful, I love being their customer so much that I’ll never change. There is no software feature on earth that could replace loving being someone’s customer.

Although they do have some great features, too.

Beacon

Helpscout

We found that when our customers wanted to get in touch with us, about 80% of the time they were going to the website and using the “contact us” form. Beacon integrates a cool popup that sits on top of our website, on every page, making it incredibly easy for people to get in touch with us, and go straight to the support channel.

And, even cooler, is that we have integrated our helpscout beacon with the wordpress dashboard of our customers’ websites, so when we have an iMember360 membersite build, our customers can contact us directly from the admin area of their own website.

That, I really love.

Docs

Helpscout also has an integrated knowledgebase, which along with saved replies, makes helping our customers a breeze for the team using helpscout.

Slack Integration

Finally, it integrates seamlessly with slack, so support notifications go directly to our #support slack channel, where the whole team can be a part of the process.

There is no software feature on earth that could replace loving being someone’s customer.

These 5 platforms are what I consider to be our “core” platforms: they’re the softwares that, if they disappeared tomorrow, we’d be desperately scrambling to replace.

However, it isn’t even close to an exhaustive list. We actually use eighty four different softwares on a daily basis. Which sort of throws the whole “all-in-one” solution notion into shade.

When you’re looking at introducing a new software into your business, ask yourself three things: 1) does it integrate? 2) is it mobile? and 3) Will the team actually use it?

These are the three pillars that guide my choices, and while not having one of these things isn’t necessarily a deal breaker, if you hit two out of three, it might be an idea to look elsewhere.

Do you push the button? Are you ready for growing pains?

If adopting Infusionsoft isn’t less painful than the way you’re currently working, then your chances of success are very low. You need the pain in your business, or rather, for the desire to succeed to be greater than the pain of adoption.

Savvy Scheduling

Unless you're selling widgets online, you're probably setting appointments with your customers somewhere along the line. The simplest way to use a scheduling app is to create an appointment link with a tool like AppointmentCore, and then have that link on hand when...

What if it’s not all about “Ascension Sales” and attracting abundance?

For almost 2 years we've been bombarded with what I'm going to call the "Ryan Deiss school of marketing and automation". I'm calling it Ryan Deiss, but anyone who's been around the traps long enough knows that he didn't really come up with most of it, it's an...