5 tools to improve project management

5 Tools to Improve Project Management

A study by Hive found that 77 percent of high-performing projects use project management (PM) software. Considering that fact, it’s a surprise that a survey by Wellingtone found only 22 percent of organizations have a PM software in place.

This means that, despite the benefits of leveraging a project management platform, the average business misses out on crucial success opportunities. A PM software solution gives you better visibility into and control over deployments, process changes and projects. Plus, it increases communication between your teams, improving productivity and removing implementation roadblocks.

But, how do you know which PM software solution is right for your business? Start with the pros and cons of the top five solutions:

Basecamp

Pros: Basecamp offers a separate dashboard to show clients, meaning you can collaborate with the team and discuss ideas while presenting polished plans of action to your clients. Plus, Basecamp is free to use for teachers and students.

Cons: While you can organize tasks into projects, you can’t link them to each other. This limits visibility between departments and team members unless you remember to tag team members into your task.

Asana

Pros: Asana is a simple-to-use platform that works best with small teams or simple projects. Each task is transparent and gives your entire department visibility into its progress and which team member is responsible for it.

Cons: It doesn’t accommodate complex projects and limits task assignees to one person. If too many tasks are created within the same project, the UI begins to slow down and hurts your productivity.

Trello

Pros: Trello provides a more visual approach to project management. When you create a task and assign it to a team member, that team member can drag and drop their notecard to change the status of the task.

Cons: If you have a lot of tasks under a single project, the dashboard becomes cluttered and overwhelming to look through. And, for a visual platform, it limits your visibility by not featuring an overview layout.

Jira

Pros: Jira lets you create epics, stories and tasks to keep your projects organized. You can prioritize your tasks and automate your workflow to make reassigning tasks a seamless experience. This platform also provides its own time-tracking feature.

Cons: While creating multiple tasks under a single project is helpful, it can quickly become cluttered, and its complex platform creates a sharper learning curve for your team.

Scoro

Pros: The only other time-tracking platform on this list, Scoro provides detailed reporting tools and safely stores all of your important information in one central place. It integrates your business calendar and meeting schedule to keep your team connected and provide visibility on availability.

Cons: The platform is a bit tricky to learn, and the number for their support team isn’t easy to find. Also, users are often overwhelmed with updates – from essential glitch fixes to unnecessary font changes.

While all of these project management software solutions provide a platform where you can create tasks, assign them to team members and monitor progress, some work for your business better than others.

For more information on project management solutions and how we can protect your PM software, contact us today.


3 reasons your business needs a vCIO

3 Reasons Your Business Needs a vCIO

“Should I let my employees use their personal devices for work?”

“Will this new solution be a game-changer or a waste of my money?”

“How do I defend my data against the next generation of cyber threats?”

If you’ve asked any of these questions, you’re not alone – trying to prepare for the future while balancing day-to-day responsibilities is a tough task for even the most dedicated business owners. Fortunately, you don’t have to be an IT expert to tackle these challenges. A virtual Chief Information Officer (vCIO) offers expertise in a flexible, cost-effective manner that suits small and medium-sized businesses.

Here are three reasons your business needs a vCIO:

Your employees need more flexibility.
If you have employees who work remotely, while traveling or from home after business hours, you have a mobile workforce – whether you’re equipped for one or not. You need processes in place to maximize their productivity and secure business data across corporate and personal devices. Virtual CIOs help you consider factors such as applications, support, ownership, security and communication policies to develop a strategy that fits your business. Cisco reports that companies with Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) processes save an average of $350 per year, per user – a vCIO can help you claim those savings for your organization with simple and secure access to data, tools and applications from any location.

New technology can solve your headaches.
Technology is constantly evolving, but as a business owner, you probably don’t have time to research every emerging technology – or the insight to understand which ones will produce long-term results and which are just fads. Virtual CIOs are plugged into the rapidly-changing world of technology and can help you identify new developments that reduce costs and increase efficiency. By thoroughly understanding your business’s pain points, they are in an ideal position to recommend solutions that will help your team now and into the future. A vCIO can also periodically evaluate your existing technology to discover new opportunities and assist with putting together a business case for new solutions.

Cyberattacks are on the rise.
The news is full of stories about the hacking of large companies – Marriott, Macy’s, The New York Times, and even tech companies such as Apple, Twitter, Facebook and Microsoft. Unfortunately, hackers don’t just target big companies – a study by Symantec found that 36 percent of recent attacks targeted businesses with fewer than 250 employees. No matter the size of your organization, security is an essential factor for all businesses. A vCIO oversees risk assessments, data protection, training awareness and third-party security practices to mitigate the possibility of attacks or breaches. They can also handle identity and access management to allow only authorized users to access sensitive corporate data.

Virtual CIOs can handle other challenges, such as helping you resume operations after a disaster, overseeing special initiatives and keeping your IT costs from ballooning. To discuss how a vCIO can impact your business, contact us today.


cloud-based collaboration tools

Finding the Right Cloud-Based Collaboration Tool for Your Business

The cloud hosts hundreds of tools and applications designed to improve security and collaboration, streamline operations and project management, and enhance your existing solutions. But, knowing which cloud-based tools are right for your business is harder than you think.

From the cost of the application to how well it integrates with your current services, a lot goes into the decision of adopting a new app or tool. Ease the burden of researching hundreds of products by using our chart to compare some of the leading cloud-based collaboration tools.

Instant Messenger Solutions

Slack vs. HipChat
Cost/User Starts from $6.67 Starts from $2.00
Subscription Style Free, Monthly, Annual Monthly
Chat Limitations Unlimited Conversation Channels Unlimited Chatrooms
Security Two-Factor Authentication SSL Encryption Security
Integration Options Integrates with File Sharing Apps and Other Solutions Drag & Drop File Sharing

 

While on the surface Slack looks like a more expensive choice, their free subscription offers a stripped-down option for an unlimited number of users. Their free and paid options leverage a variety of features including synchronization, data security and encryption, iOS and Android apps, file sharing and browsing, voice and video calls, webhooks and more.

HipChat may not have as many features as Slack, but it provides a solid communication option for small businesses or organizations on a limited budget. With features like screen and file sharing, synchronization, and voice and video calling, HipChat makes it easy to share ideas across an unlimited number of chatrooms. But, they only offer a free 30-day trial version before you’re faced with the decision to buy a monthly subscription.

 

Office Suite Solutions

Office 365 vs. G-Suite
Cost/User Starts from $5 Starts from $5
Subscription Style Monthly Monthly
File Storage Up to 1TB/User Up to 30GB/User
Security Two-Factor Authentication Two-Factor Authentication
Integration Options Integrates with Most Other Solutions Integrates with Some Solutions

 

Microsoft has been in the cloud-documents game a little longer than Google, and their subscription plans show it. From Office 365 Business Essentials to Enterprise E5, Microsoft has a plan for any size business. Office 365 offers 1TB of file storage per user – and that’s over and above email storage in Outlook. Due to its popularity, Office 365 integrates with most existing solutions and also provides Yammer and Stream as services in its package.

While G Suite counts email toward your storage space, their Business plan offers unlimited storage if you buy more than five user accounts. For the right business, that provides the most cost-effective solution. G Suite is also extremely scalable and doesn’t restrict your plans to the number of users. Plus, you gain the option to create both G Suite and Office 365 documents – giving you the best of both worlds for a single price.

 

Video Conferencing Solutions

Cisco Webex vs. Skype for Business
Cost/User Starts from $19.00 Starts from $2.00
Subscription Style Monthly, Annual Free, Monthly, Annual
Chat Limitations Up to 100 People/Meeting Up to 250 People/Meeting
Security Multi-Layered Solution Authentication & Encryption
Integration Options Integrates with Dropbox, Jira and Most Other Solutions Integrates with Office 365, Slack and Most Other Solutions

 

Cisco Webex starts at a steep price for an annual subscription, but as a leader in security, Cisco brings a multi-layered security solution that keeps users protected and messages encrypted. Webex doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of Skype for Business, but it’s easy to navigate and provides a more reliable connection.

Skype for Business provides a variety of features from one-to-one video calls and voice messages to group screen sharing and more. With security solutions that keep unauthorized users out and data encrypted, you can feel safe conversing with clients, peers and prospects. Skype for Business seamlessly integrates with Office 365 and provides Microsoft plans like Business Essentials and Business Premium.

While the cloud may offer hundreds of different collaboration tools, not all of them are right for your business. We’ll help you evaluate your issues and determine which solutions are the perfect fit for your business.

For more information on the leading cloud-based collaboration tools and how they can influence your business, contact us today.