To make this work, process and distributed tools are buried deep in our DNA, rather than tacked on after we’ve reach some size were process is needed to move forward. In addition, we needed to focus on our core competencies so we looked for tools to enhance our productivity, rather than trying and build them ourselves. As such we were (and continue to be) on the lookout for great, inexpensive productivity tools.
As such I wanted to share some of the open source and inexpensive tools we’ve utilized to help organize ourselves at Deep Value.
1. Atlassian JIRA and Greenhopper (http://www.atlassian.com)
Getting work done and tracking what you’re doing is key. We used Bugzilla for some time, but given the critical nature of work tracking, we decide that a more robust solution was required. We experimented with several solutions (MS Project (waterfall – arrggg) and TeamWork (www.twproject.com) ) but in the end an agile development methodology is really the best way to build systems in a complex, fluid environment. We wanted to have a centralized system for issues and user stories – JIRA with GreenHopper works well for this.
2. Codesion (http://codesion.com/)
We needed source control, and having someone manage this securely and safely for a minimal fee, this made sense. As we’ve grown we are looking at doing this on-site, but the cost is low and the service level high.
3. Google Apps (http://www.google.com/apps/intl/en/business/)
We have a sizable systems team, but we want them to focus on managing our various data centers, not setting up calendars. After trying a few open source solutions for calendars and email, we went with Google. We use it for email, calendars and shared documents. The shared documents have been especially useful in collaborating with clients – providing us with a centralized “whiteboard” that multiple parties can view. We are now using Webcams and Google Hangouts to build a more cohesive team feeling.
4. Aretta (http://www.aretta.com) now CBeyond
After using Skype for a while, we went with a more full featured VOIP provider. We tried several VOIP providers multiple times, and Aretta won out each time. They had some minor reliability issues when they migrated data centers a year or so ago (hence searching twice) but they are the best of the inexpensive variety.
5. Workforce Growth (http://www.workforcegrowth.com)
Doing reviews is essential. Tracking all the questions and doing 360s without a tool is not for the feint hearted. WorkForceGrowth is a great tool and improved our review processes, although nothing replaces being a good listener.
6. Asana (http://asana.com/)
For managing multi-team projects with many small tasks and co-ordination, we found JIRA to be too heavy weight. Google documents are too unstructured and don’t prompt action. Asana fits well with client integrations and cross-team project management. A great tool that we’ve recently started using more and more.
7. FollowUpThen (www.followupthen.com)
One of our issues was the “dropped email thread” problem leading to dropped work. If you have an email that you need to ensure you follow-up to completion, adding a cc: to followupthen.com (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com) will get followupthen to remind you that you did not get a reply from the person whom you sent the email to. This allows you to send-and-forget emails as followupthen will prompt you if you received no reply. No more dropped email threads.
8 RecruiterBox (www.recruiterbox.com)
Managing your recruitment pipeline and job postings is a real problem. Recruiterbox has helped us track candidates as they move through our recruitment pipeline. This ensures we have suitable statistics to measure recruitment performance as well as have a centralized repository for all the information relating to a candidate. Recruiterbox can also push job postings out to our website and other social media (linkedin, facebook.)