Delta has been able to make use of a variety of Modern Collaboration Tools to launch our business. Over the first two years of operating, we’ve implemented a long list of online tools that allow everyone at the company to contribute in parallel and communicate ideas quickly. More than a convenience, I would say it is a requirement for small businesses to make use of online collaboration tools in order to move quickly, with so few employees, and still develop superior products. Below is a list of the tools we use right now:
GSuite is all the Google products you already know you need wrapped up in a convenient small business package. Sign up with your company name and you can have a domain, company email, and all the requisite security tools already setup for you. Google Calendars keeps everyone up to date on who is busy and when is a good time to set up a meeting without exchanging emails back and forth. Quickly setup conference calls with clients with just a few clicks. My favorite is Google Docs. Everyone at the company can be working on the same report, slide show or spreadsheet at the same time for instant feedback and rapid collaboration. Don’t forget it comes with Google Forms for super easy surveys, all at a very small business price.
If you’re doing any kind of design or manufacturing work, you’re going to have Design Controls, especially if your product is regulated by the FDA. Nowadays some people might start with a collaborative Google Sheets document and think they are ahead of the people using paper, but that’s not enough. You want a solution that is collaborative, searchable and interconnected; you want a database. Greenlight Guru is the only software I found that could do this, and it does it really well.
A virtual phone system. No need to set up any servers or run Ethernet cable. Just sign up and your small business has an enterprise-size phone system in the cloud.
Your team members need to buy things. Make it easy and safe at the same time. No more old fashioned method of taking a pen to a Purchase Request form and waiting days for the purchasing department to get back to you. Accounting instantly receives purchase info, eliminating the chance for lost receipts. You can even automatically limit purchases to certain categories or dollar amounts and digitally route them for approval.
There is a lot of project management software out there. Even a lot of collaborative ones. Hive was the only one that combined all of the features that we wanted in one place, with the friendliest interface. Why is the interface important? We want team members to use project management tools for themselves. No longer is the project lead alone, stressing out over all the details. Team members all work within the same task list, expanding on their own section. Now the project leads can keep track of the schedule without all the hassle.
All software developers already know about this in the open source world, but are you encouraging your team to use this at work too? Github is a way for a number of people on your team to collaborate on software and keep track of changes, no matter how big or small your business is.
A collaborative Google Docs-like way of making diagrams.
The first of its kind, Onshape brings collaboration to CAD. Remember how relieved you were when you found Google Slides and no longer had to merge slides from all your team members? Now they have that for CAD. Onshape does so much more that has allowed our small team to follow ISO procedures like a large team without slowing us down.
Accounting team members can work together across locations, live, without having to communicate back and forth. It’s the Google Docs of accounting (you see the theme now). Your small business will need help with payroll to start out. Quickbooks makes it easy to collaborate with contractors and get more done with a smaller team.
I’m writing this in Wix right now! Wix sets up your small business with super easy to use tools for website building even if you have yet to hire a Web Development expert. The email and messaging tools give me the ability to be a one-person Marketing and Customer Support team.
You’re getting your production line started. You need a statement of procedures for this build station, or 10 build stations, and each one needs data to be entered to a Quality Management database and you have to print out new forms and manage approvals… Or you could use Dozuki. All the digital procedures are in one place, approvals are handled digitally, changes are tracked, procedures become digital checklists and automatically send results to your database. Now a single team lead can confidently run a number of production lines with dozens of team members.
There are a few more tools I am excited to explore, but we are not currently using at Delta. I’ll give the Honorable Mentions too:
A digital collaborative whiteboard!
A messaging center that can almost replace email within your small business. Leads can make chat groups for certain projects and everyone can reference chat history to find the information they need without walking around the office asking for team members to search for that one email.
I use this one personally. It keeps track of home projects with a bunch of organized to-do lists, notifications, scheduling.