As part of an earlier post on the strategic decisions behind building a successful company with a distributed workforce, we promised to explore the ideal tech stack for remote teams.
It’s important to consider your clients’ and employees’ specific needs when evaluating any software or technology purchase. Just because a review site ranks a system highly doesn’t mean it will work well for your business.
Pro tip: Always negotiate on price and ask for customization. Many companies will be willing to make changes in price or functionality to suit your needs. Also, look for tools that can pull double duty to minimize costs.
Technology and software every remote team needs to succeed
Business owners have a few options when it comes to providing technology or reimbursing for it. Here’s a good list and things to consider.
- Computers. Desktop versus laptop, Mac versus PC — it all depends on who will be using it and how. Many retailers, such as Best Buy, and manufacturers like Microsoft and Apple, offer business discounts and rewards.
- Printers and scanners. Combo printers and scanners save space — bonus points for wireless printing capabilities.
- Phones. Decide whether distributed employees will use their personal cell phones, company-provided cell phones, or landline phones.
- Headsets. A hands-free headset is a must for anyone who spends a good amount of time in remote meetings. If your office environment is cluttered, distracting, or less than impressive, consider investing in a professional backdrop for video calls.
- Video conferencing command center. Advanced setups with high-quality video and audio enhance the conference call experience for groups in rooms of all sizes. Check out Zoom Rooms.
Project management and communication
These tools are arguably the most important for the day-to-day operations and overall success of your distributed team. Not only do they impact internal organization and communication, but also how clients perceive and interact with your company. What you’ll need:
- Project management software. Consider internal communication and file sharing, external communication and file sharing, task and milestone management, and resource management forecasting. Try Wrike, Mavenlink, Trello, Basecamp, Forecast, or another tool.
- Video conferencing. I include video here because it is becoming more accepted and expected. Test different tools to ensure you’re happy with the quality. Options include WebEx, Zoom, GoToMeeting, and Skype.
- Team chat. For internal communication and collaboration. Slack is the leader here, but many competitors are popping up. Something as simple as GChat can be effective for smaller teams.
- Live chat. Website visitors are expecting live chat capabilities more and more, even outside of e-commerce websites. Try Drift, Olark, Intercom, LivePerson, or others.
- Email. It’s so basic that we almost don’t think of it as part of a tech stack. The G Suite is a good place to start with access to Gmail, Drive, Calendar, and other helpful apps.
- Document creation. Everyone will need the Microsoft Office suite, Google Drive, or similar for document, spreadsheet, and presentation creation.
- Storage, backups, and sharing. Dropbox is a leader in this space, but there are many other options. SugarSync is great for creating backups in the cloud.
- Other specialized software as your industry requires.
- Search engine optimization. There are thousands of tools at your disposal depending on your needs, but a robust SEO software such as Moz or SEMrush will get you about 90% of what you need. Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools are indispensable as well.
- Marketing automation. Depending on your needs and contact list size, you can go with a basic email marketing tool like MailChimp or a full-scale automation platform like HubSpot, Marketo, Pardot, or Act-On.
- CRM. You’ll definitely want a CRM if you have both marketing and sales teams handling leads and prospects. Salesforce and HubSpot lead the way.
- Adobe Creative Suite. A must-have for any web designer or graphic designer.
- Analytics. Google Analytics is the clear market leader for website analytics and tracking. Others include Statcounter, Matomo, and Clicky, although none are as robust as GA.
Management and operations tools
- HR software. Many human resources management tools have sprung up over the last few years. The most competitive include Zoho People, BambooHR, Gusto, GoCO, and Zenefits. Our agency uses Zoho People.
- Performance management. Keep a pulse on what’s working, where your employees are stuck, and progress toward individual and corporate goals with a tool designed for quick employee engagement. Try 15five, Culture Amp, WeThrive, Weekdone, and many others.
- Bookkeeping and finance. QuickBooks is an industry leader and has functions from invoicing to payroll and everything in between. Alternatives include Xero, Wave, FreshBooks, Billy, and Zoho Books.
- Resource scheduling. While included under project management tools, Forecast and similar products are also great for evaluating resource loading and scheduling to guide hiring and project assignment decisions.
What’s in your remote team’s tech stack that you can’t live without? Let us know on social!