An Overview of Apps to Use to Document Your Standard Operating Procedures

Having your Standard Operating Procedures in place is the only way in which you can ensure consistency and grow your business. However, it is often perceived as a difficult and time-consuming task to compile Standard Operating Procedures, especially in the light of them not staying the same over time due to improvements.

Fortunately, there are some clever people who designed easy ways to compile and maintain Standard Operating Procedures online and on the go.

Process Street

This is a really simple way to manage recurring workflows for your team.

You can set up templates that can be used over and over. In addition, it allows you to track your team’s progress on each workflow so that you can see at a glance.

There are wonderful templates available so that you can set up your processes easily and quickly.

It integrates with over 500 apps, which is great if there are some apps you are already working with.

You can start out with a free plan for up to 5 templates.

SweetProcess

SweetProcess has a 14 day free trial, after which it will cost you $39/month for up to 8 active members.

Like Process Street, it offers you a way to document your procedures and track your team’s progress on them. You can also export your procedures into an Excel or PDF file.

Pipefy

Pipefy offers a little more than Process Street and SweetProcess. Not only can you document and track the progress your procedures with templates provided, you can set up a seamless flow between your different business processes.  You can create templated emails and send them out from Pipefy. In addition, you can create a database for your company’s information. The paid version also offers you the ability to create powerful reports based on your processes.

Small teams (up to 10 users) can sign up for free to begin their workflow controls. However, if you need all Pipefy’s features to grow your business, it costs $9 per user per month. Additional plans for larger teams are available as well.

Of course, if you just want to compile standard operating procedures for reference and easy edits, you can also use tools such as EvernoteWunderlistWorkflowy and Trello.

If you need help in setting up any of the above apps and capturing your workflows and processes, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I’m passionate about setting up and effectively using standard operating procedures!

Bitrix24 – A Recommended Business Management Tool For Real Estate

A real estate client of mine needed a business management tool that would enable her to have a birds-eye view of her business and at the same time help her business grow. I recommended Bitrix24.

Bitrix24 is easy to learn and intuitive. Anyone who uses social media like Facebook or Linkedin should have no problems learning it.

She started by explaining to me what processes are followed in the business. When a potential seller contacts them, they do a free market evaluation in order to determine the value of the seller’s property. If the seller decides to list, the property is advertised for a year. If the property has not sold during that time, the seller needs to sign documentation to relist the property. If there are buyer queries, there is a procedure to be followed to match the right buyer to the right seller. There is also a procedure for closing a sale.

Using Bitrix24, I set up automatic lead captures for the free market evaluations from her website. I then wrote and set up the procedure which is followed to do the market evaluation to ensure that each market evaluation is done in the same way. I also wrote and set up an automatic series of follow-up emails to ensure that the lead is kept engaged with the company until they decide to list.

Once the potential seller decides to list, I wrote and set up the procedure on how to handle a new listing. I also set up a reminder system for follow-up with the seller at set intervals after they listed their property. In addition, I set up a reminder system to alert them to when their listing agreement is due to expire and if they don’t renew, to send them an expiry notice. Again, if a seller’s listing expired without them taking action to renew it, I wrote and automated the email follow-up with them to encourage them to list with us again.

With Bitrix24, it is also easy to generate reports on the number of new listings received during a particular period, how many sales were made, how much commission was earned, the average days a listing is on the market before it sells, the growth from year to year, etc at the click of a button.

Another advantage is that when each employee logs onto Bitrix24 every morning, there is a complete list of what they should be doing during that day with deadlines attached. This ensures that no tasks can fall through the cracks. It is also very easy for employees to communicate with each other using Bitrix24, eliminating the need for back and forth emails or meetings.

This year to date there has been an increase of over 50% compared to last year in the number of sales made, which is very gratifying. The number of people that have chosen to list with us has also increased dramatically with the automatic follow-ups.

There are other useful features in Bitrix24 which I haven’t covered here which have definitely helped to streamline her business.

I believe Bitrix24 can be customized easily to fit any kind of business. However, customizing it for a real estate company has worked extremely well with excellent results.

Asana – a great online organization tool

I love trying new applications to improve productivity, and was pleasantly surprised when I discovered Asana.com.

Asana was developed to address the frustration of spending too much time doing “work about work.”

The founders, Dustin Moskovitz and Justin Rosenstein, developed this web application to “empower humanity to do great things.”

It works wonderfully for both individual entrepreneurs as well as teams to improve their productivity.

How Asana benefits a small business owner

A small business owner can easily create a project, break it down into tasks and subtasks to be accomplished, and assign these tasks and subtasks to his/her staff. It is a great way to make sure that all staff members are optimally engaged in reaching the goals of the organisation, because you can see at a glance who is working on what, who has too much on their plate, and who can be given more responsibilities.

It is also a great tracking tool of what has been accomplished during a set time period.

An example of how a virtual assistant could use Asana

A virtual assistant can open a Project for every client, and list the tasks, subtasks, and due dates of all that should be accomplished for each client. Every time a new task is received via email or other means, it can be added to the task list for that client. It is easy to see at a glance what needs to be done on a daily basis, as well as for making sure that none of the balls the virtual assistant is juggling fall on the ground. It is also simple to report on what has been accomplished, as the lists and the dates tasks were accomplished are already in an easy-to-use format.

I also like the ability to create repeat tasks for things that have to be done monthly, weekly, or at other preset intervals. Never again do you have to try to remember what needs to be done – it is all there at your fingertips.

If you have people that you outsource work to, you can invite them to specific projects and assign tasks to them as well as track their progress.

Asana can be used for personal projects too

It is not necessary to separate your work life and personal life. You can put all your projects and tasks into one place, so that remembering where you put certain information is never a problem again.

Asana is really a simple, intuitive online productivity tool. I can really recommend it.

10 Free Business Tools to Help Your Small Business Succeed

Any small business owner would like to keep input costs to a minimum, and nothing beats free!  Listed below are free business tools (click on the image to visit the site) that most business owners will use at some or other time.

Dropbox

This application makes it easy to store, access and modify documents, pictures, and videos online.  With a 2MB free plan, it is to be recommended.

small business tools

Google Docs & Apps

Also very handy to access documents from anywhere online with Google Drive with 5MB free storage.  You can have an e-mail address end with @yourdomain for free through Google Apps.

online business tools

Dooster

A very handy project management tool that allows you to keep track of project, people, milestones, and online documents.  It also has a time tracker tool.  You can have up to 3 simultaneous projects for free.

project management, online business tool

Contactually

This application keeps track of all your e-mails, and reminds you who to follow up.  It can integrate with most CRM programs, and is useful even as a stand alone application.  For more information, see my detailed post reviewing Contactually.

online business tool

Quora

A questions and answers site for business owners where you can showcase your expertise or ask questions.

online business resource

Free Conference Call

This allows you to make conference calls and host webinars for free.  It also has a recording function, which is very useful.

online free conference call, webinars

Square

The easy way to accept credit cards on the go on your iPhone, iPad, or ITouch.  You pay per transaction in the same way as with Paypal.

online business tools, credit card payment

Skype

An indispensable way of communicating online with business partners and clients internationally, either for free, or at a very reasonable rate.

online business tools

Mailchimp

A free newsletter email list for up to 2000 subscribers.  A great way to stay in touch and build up your credibility as a small business owner.

online business tools

Wave accounting

A free accounting system which can be compared to Quickbooks and is specifically for small business owners and freelancers.

online business tools

 

If you have come across any other really useful small business tools, please share them below.

An updated post on business productivity tools can be found here: 30-app-ideas-for-your-small-business/

Contactually: the most practical way to keep on top of your business relationships

productivity, virtual productivity solutionsI was recently asked to review Contactually, an online tool designed to keep you on track with your customers, potential customers, and other business relationships.

CRMs are incredibly useful tools that, when utilized properly, can be a tremendous asset to an individual, a team, or a company. The problem is that CRMs don’t properly reflect how we work. We interact with them through clunky web applications, and endless forms. We have to remember to feed your CRM more data, otherwise it’s rendered useless.

In comes Contactually, which brings simple, easy-to-use business tools where you need them.  Acting as a personal assistant, Contactually synchronizes with your email accounts and contacts, tracking how you met them, reminding you to follow up, and more.  No software or plugins are required.

It is extremely easy to set up, and integrates with existing CRM software like Salesforce, Highrise, and SugarCRM.  You can also sync your Linkedin contacts with Contactually.  They pull in all your relationships and merge it with your email contacts, so you can see not just who you are connected to, but how well you know them, and when last you talked to them.

From the Contactually dashboard, you can now also do much more than follow up with a contact – you can schedule when to speak to them or record when you contacted them.  You can also keep a task list with dates to be reminded to do those tasks.

When you set up Contactually, you have the option of choosing when to receive your daily email reminders of who to follow up with. This is extremely convenient, because even if you don’t log into the Contactually dashboard, you are kept up to date as to what your next steps should be.

Your contacts on Contactually can be searched via name, alphabetically displayed, displayed according to importance, or displayed according to your last contact with them.  In addition, you can categorize your contacts.  In a similar way to the circles in Google Plus, you can drag and drop your contacts into various buckets, making it so much easier to follow up.

What I really like about Contactually is their excellent customer support.  Not only do they make it really simple to get started, but they keep you updated on new developments and ways to use Contactually.  There is also live support available from your dashboard.

Contactually has also recently become available for teams, giving you the ability to share contacts, collaborate on follow-ups, and ensure that all the external relationships for you and your company are strong.  Staying on top of what your team needs to do helps you make sure you never miss an opportunity.

Claim your first month free to test out their fantastic service by visiting them for instant access.  I can really recommend it.