March 28, 2020    7 min read

Despite the drama of Covid-19, at Unleashed Software we’ve experienced minimal disruption to doing business as usual. That’s in part thanks to our investment in a suite of cloud-based apps, which are deployed across all aspects of our business.

For anyone currently considering which cloud-based solutions are best for business in the new environment, this list — with commentary from Chief Operating Officer Lisa Miles-Heal — may well prove useful. There’s no better time to try out software that will help you work smarter both now and in the long run.

The Productivity Cloud Apps We Use

G-Suite. I can remember the first day I joined Unleashed. I had just come out of a lifetime of Microsoft environments. I was given a MacBook, and was told I was using G-Suite from now on. I felt like an idiot — I had to deal with a whole new way of managing email, calendars, sharing documents, everything. These days, I’m a convert. I have to say though, I still use Excel and do the occasional PowerPoint. You can’t teach an old dog too many new tricks. Or maybe you can? We’ll see.

Totango is customer success software that allows us to track the usage of our products by our end users. It gives us patterns on what people are using and how regularly they log on. When we launch something new, we can also see how adoption is going, how functionality is being used, and how that stacks up against our original business case. We probably only use 25% of Totango’s functionality at the moment, but we may well explore it further in the future.

We use Sisense for our internal management reporting. We like it because it takes data from our other apps and makes it easy for us to present that information in all our key management reports. We actually came pretty close to embedding Sisense in our own product recently, and we may well revisit this soon. I recommend giving it a try.

Salesforce is simply an amazing CRM tool. We use it for two main purposes at the moment – for our sales pipeline management, and as our core CRM. Soon we might also be using Salesforce to support customer service. Salesforce is pricey, but I also think it’s worth its weight in gold. Especially for the customised reporting it offers. I had to build a unique and reasonably detailed report for one of my colleagues today, and it took two minutes.

The app on everyone’s lips, Zoom, is our collaboration tool of choice. We have others, but this is our current favourite, and in the current environment it’s something we’re really leaning on. A tip for you — we have licensed users, but we also make use of the 45 minute free version. It’s a good way of keeping meetings short and on point.

Zoom tip: Licence some users, but lean on the free 45-minute free version for most staff. It keeps your meetings on point”

Lucid Charts is worth investigating if you want to collaborate visually and diagrammatically. If you’re old enough to remember, it’s like Visio, only a lot better. It has some really useful standard templates, and is a great tool for putting new processes and flows into pictorial form quickly.

Slack is touted as the replacement for email, and we’re heavy users. I’ll be honest, it can be amazing and a pain at the same time. If it’s used poorly it quickly becomes frustrating and counter-productive. So if you are going to use Slack, lay down some ground rules. We ask our people to use it for non-permanent information – for us it’s the digital equivalent of a chat around someone’s desk, or banter across the office. Anything that needs to be a matter of record goes on email or in the intranet knowledge base.

Trello is one of our digital to-do-list apps. We regularly create Trello boards across our teams and use them to talk about work in progress and ideas. I like to use it, it’s got an easy drag and drop feel to it. We also use Todoist in our customer engagement team to record future facing actions and to make sure they happen.

We also have a ticketing system called Freshdesk that we use for internal IT support. It’s simple, clear and helps us to separate this work from our customer related tickets. Our IT team say it’s a great tool, and it helps make sure we all stay connected and productive.

The Apps We Use For Sales

We’ve also got some great apps to support our sales team. Talkdesk is a good example. We use it to record calls with prospects, and it works very well. We also use Loom to record and send video demos to prospects and customers.

Calendly is appointment scheduling software and another one we use in the sales side of our business. It helps to avoid that back and forth tennis match of, “are you available at this time, are you available at that time.” I get great reports about it from the team.

Zendesk has been an amazing tool for us on our journey to date, and I’d certainly recommend it.

Customer Engagement Apps at Unleashed

Zendesk is a really good customer support and ticket tracking tool. I encourage you to take a look at it. For our own part we’ve got to a stage where we might have outgrown Zendesk. We now have global operations across three customer success teams. But it has been an amazing tool for us on our journey to date, and I’d certainly recommend it.

AskNicely is the app that we use to track our Net Promoter Score. We use it to ask our customers if they would refer us to anyone else. I strongly believe that adopting any NPS app is a good thing to do if you want your business to be accountable to customer feedback. AskNicely is the one that works for us.

We also use ClickDesk to enable online chat with our customers. It’s simple and easy to use, and it really does help us engage with our customers more. Some of our customers will always prefer to pick up the phone. Most still email us. But having the ability to do live chat is helpful in this day and age.

Our Favourite People and Culture Cloud Apps

BambooHR is our human resource management system. It enables us to track a lot of data about our employees through the full life cycle of their journey with us. I recommend taking a look at it. It’s intuitive, fast and reliable. It also appears to me that BambooHR is investing in its product and adding features regularly. We love to do the same at Unleashed, and I appreciate it when I see that in another company.

The second tool we use a lot in HR is Small Improvements. There’s overlap with BambooHR, but we use Small Improvements for goal setting, employee performance management measurement, for recording one-on-ones, and to provide praise and feedback to employees. We like it because it’s simple and does what it focuses on well. I use it a lot for one-on-ones.

On the recruitment side we do a lot internally ourselves through referrals and direct through our website, but we do use LinkedIn Recruiter. It has worked well for us.

The Best Finance Cloud Apps (For Us)

We use Xero extensively. Not just because we integrate with it as a product, but because it is the gold standard for medium-sized business accounting. We love Xero. We use it in all of our jurisdictions around the world. And we operate Xero under four different currencies.

Zuora is our billing platform. It’s designed for subscription services like ours, but if you run a medium-sized business you may find it’s a bit more suited to larger organisations. The jury is out on whether we will use it in the future. That’s not intended as a criticism, it’s just an honest assessment of how we find that application suited to our needs.

The other tool we use in finance is Fathom, which is a great consolidated reporting tool for P&L across all our various entities around the world. The reports really are very clean. I actually quite like consuming them!

I hope you’ve found this list useful and that it encourages you to go and try some of them for yourself. I should add that the list is not exhaustive. Our product development and engineering teams use apps such as:

  • Confluence
  • JIRA
  • Visual Studio
  • GitHub
  • Silver
  • TeamCity
  • DevExpress
  • and Balsamiq

Our marketing team use many more, including:

  • Asana
  • HubSpot
  • OptinMonster
  • Outgrow
  • and SEMrush

But I can’t go on forever, and these are quite specialist areas and deserve blog posts in their own right. If you would like to know how we use them — and what we think of them — you’re always welcome to give us a call.

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