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Best Software of 2011

Our relationship with software can be a love hate thing.

Know we need it, ‘supposed’ to make our business more efficient but there always seems to be a cost, mainly the learning curve.

Once we have a handle on it and we often look back “What was the problem or why did that seem so hard?”

There were 5 stand out software applications that helped us grow our business in 2011. They might make the world of difference for you so thought I’d share them.

Evernote:

We all come across great useful information while ‘surfing’.

We might bookmark a webpage, want to save a link, an image, maybe save a document, make a note, see it on our iPhone, Android or Ipad.

How do we keep it all in one place?

Use Evernote. This video summarises it best

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8w2Q2s7F6F4

We’re doing a million dollar website makeover of our 4 core ‘business front websites’ to get better leverage and uniformity from our marketing, lead generation and branding.

Individually my team see ideas and models we can work from so how do we capture that easily and quickly and so we can ALL see it?

Evernote and ‘share’ a folder.

Whether it’s a webpage, complete with links intact or maybe it’s just a part of a webpage, or an image of a button we like the style of.

And if you capture it on your iPhone or mobile device, it’s there on your PC when you get home, it’s all online so it doesn’t matter what device you use. Check it out, it’s free – http://www.evernote.com/

See the full list of features and functionality for yourself.

  • I can send Evernote an email with content and files attachments.
  • I can upload text, voice messages and images.
  • I can drag files from my computer to Evernote on my desktop.
  • I can save a file to Evernote from the print dialog command.
  • I can clip any full web page or just an excerpt of web content directly to Evernote while I surf.
  • I can write text notes directly to Evernote.
  • I can add photos directly from a camera.
  • I can add scans with ability to search them.
  • I create separate folders (for blog post ideas, social media, search engine optimising, etc.)

RoboForm:

Need to manage your passwords more effectively, and securely (emphasis security)?

Most people try to have a default password so it’s easy to remember, trouble is some are 4 character passwords, some are between 6 to 12 and others complicate it with forcing you to have some uppercase, some alpha and some numeric characters and it just goes on. Most people then try and use 2 or perhaps 3 versions. Good luck with that.

We manage over 1100 passwords so we run the Password Manager RoboForm and specifically the ‘RoboForm Everywhere’.

Here’s their video:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-n9Dr8dL0Oc

It used to be a freebie, and you can still get a 30 day trial. It’s only $29.95 but I’d recommend the RoboForm Everywhere.

RoboForm Everywhere is only $9.95 per year and we run it on all our computers so each team member can access, add, update and sync the passwords at any time. I also run their app on my iPone and Ipad.

It also acts as a web form filler which is a big time saver too (but equally as annoying if you’re on the net as much as we are so we use the manual on/off switch on that).

It also has a very cool random password generator and of course RoboForm is password protected in itself. Security is the key obviously. Here’s a cool trick for those wanting to manage all their financial and banking passwords but keep it separate from the team, run 2 ‘profiles’ so it is totally independent from your client data.

Snag It and Camtasia:

Need to take a screen shot? Want to then make some notes on that? What about video tutorials?

Both Snag It and Camtasia are made by TechSmith and can be purchased separately or as stand alone applications.

Turn a simple snapshot of your computer screen into a detailed graphic or illustration. Whether you need to create interesting training documents, collaborative design work, or IT bug reports, Snagit allows you to communicate efficiently.

Here’s a link to Snag It:

http://www.techsmith.com/snagit.html

Create, edit and produce stunning videos at any screen size. Use Camtasia to make tutorials, as well as a variety of training and marketing videos. Camtasia lets you edit and polish video of your computer screen and instantly share it to YouTube, portable devices and more.

Here’s a link to Camtasia:

http://www.techsmith.com/camtasia.html

or the free version form Techsmith with not as many feaqtures but pretty cool cause it’s free is Jing.

The fun and the simple way to start sharing images and short videos of your computer screen. Whether for work, home or play, Jing can add basic visual elements to all of your online conversations. And best of all, it’s FREE.

http://www.techsmith.com/jing.html

Imgur:

This is not actually software but a really handy tool. It’s simply an easy online way to share images.

Have you ever needed remote help with an issue on your PC?

You want to show them the issue you’re having using a screen shot (like you might create using SnagIt). Easier than explaining right? But how do you do that?

Have your image, upload it to http://imgur.com/ and grab the URL address and send them the link via the chat line and it’s instant, click the link and they can see the image.

Wonder or have to explain no more!

WorkflowMax:

Ever wonder where the day goes? Need to track and measure tasks, projects or how long jobs take? Need to know more about your bottom line profit?

We did.

We trialled several software applications before settling on WorkflowMax.

This is not a full review but here’s the short story version.

http://www.getklok.com/ was a great little application. I personally loved the user interface, and the way it listed the project a sub parts of the project. It runs ‘local’ on your PC which means the software is on your computer.

That’s great but we needed to be able to ‘connect’ each team member’s results and data. Get Klok have a plugin called ‘team connector’ which by all accounts ran well. Only trouble was we had to ‘click some buttons’ for that to collate and ‘connect’, which means it is dependent on us to remember to do that, and in essence is fraught with danger.

For a one man or two band team it’s great starting software and not big dollars at US$15.99. If you want to synchronise the data you’d need to look at the ‘team connector’ and ‘team console’ add ons.

We went to http://www.workflowmax.com/ and are rapt with our decision.

It’s a monthly subscription model being an online application and the time tracking and reporting is brilliant.

Right now I’m tracking how long it takes me to do this post. It’s recorded under the job ‘Marketing and Sales’ as the ‘Job’ – Blog Posts.

As a result of the reporting so far we’re able to streamline and improve our process and systems because we have real time accurate data to work from. No theoretical or emotional decisions here.

The team are on board because they’re able to show where their day goes, what they need to have to be more efficient and we’re looking at implementing outcomes based bonuses because we have the data to accurately track it.

We recently identified we went way overtime on one job which showed for that particular style of project we needed to have a different cost structure applied.

The outcome? Better bottom line.

Is it a learning curve? Yes, but pretty simpe really.

Is it worth it? Yes, absolutely!

WorkflowMax also has lead management aspect of which I’ve only just started using which is already showing me some of the ‘cracks’ in our follow up systems.

Another part we’re not using is invoicing, we use other software for our bookkeeping and invoicing but that’s another day and another post.

I hope you’re able to glean from our experience of using these software applications. Hope it helps.

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Peter B Butler

Passionate with serial ‘hobbiest’ tendencies. Love WordPress & software 'toys'. Raving 70's Jap Bike collector. By day we convert dead dormant websites into profitable sites, hence ‘Smarter Websites’ - making them 'work', one at a time if necessary. On target for world domination, albeit our part of the world...

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