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Apps aren’t just about games.
When people used to ask me about apps, new sources and games usually came to my mind. If I thought a bit more about it, I would recall that I did use apps for some business purposes (mainly e-mail and communication). I’d also remember a few apps I’d seen that charities had cleverly used to engage donors and raise money. I had never really thought about them as an inexpensive and efficient way to run a charity, but this is precisely what we’re now doing at Technology Trust.
Let me start at the beginning: as a technology-focused charity, our job is to stay on top of what’s out there and provide charities with access to and insight into the technology available to them. With this mission in mind – plus my love of gadgets and all things tech – I got to thinking more and more about mobile technology.
As you’ll know from previous blogs, we already offer flexible working to our employees and use cloud-based software such as Office 365, Salesforce.com and Box.com on a day-to-day basis, so everything is easily accessible (and secure). I have since wondered, however, whether it would be possible to adopt a web-based, mobile friendly strategy and build our own ‘best-of-breed’ solution for running everything for Technology Trust — from project management and HR through to accounting and expenses — entirely on designed-for-purpose apps?
The answer is yes. Well, nearly anyway – we’re currently implementing a series of business apps that you can access and run from any device: PC, Mac, smartphone, tablet – all of which are easy to use, economical and provide flexibility that other more traditional packages don’t. Because it’s all web-based, the apps integrate well and most of them talk to each other. We’re not tied into contracts or licences so, rather than being forced to wait for an upgrade, we can chop and change our approach and apps as technology develops and matures. This app-based approach also makes it easy for us to add new employees and even share with suppliers or partners, where necessary.
Every organisation is different, but here are some of my favourites that are worth considering:
This internet-based storage and filing system is similar to Dropbox, but with enterprise-level control and functionality, making it more effective for organisations with more than a handful of people to use.
Task management was actually the catalyst for taking the plunge into a business app-based approach – from pondering about being an app-based organisation to becoming one. We needed an electronic way to monitor and assign tasks that went beyond Outlook.
Originally designed to help remote developers map out code design plans, this easy to use, visual tool allows us to create, assign, manage, track and comment on the status of tasks and projects. It also provides a view for the team into what others are working on. We use it internally and with our suppliers to keep on top what’s in plan, being worked on and completed. And trust me – moving a project into the ‘completed’ column is very satisfying.
I completely agree with their strapline: ‘Expense reports that don’t suck’. We were able to get Expensify up and running within a few hours and it has cut the pain and paperwork of filing expenses out of my life!
I can now file my expenses during my commute and the software automatically forwards the reports to our accountant who sorts everything out.
For only £16 per month, this cloud-based HR ‘app’ helps us to manage and organise our team. It provides recruitment and review processes, holiday planning, absence tracking and personnel document management all through a web browser. It’s a great alternative to a full time HR person – a luxury most of us can’t afford.
Accounting software is one of the hardest to replace with a more mobile solution, but we’ve been impressed with the Xero team, who’ve helped us to get our heads round how we can simplify our invoicing processes and approvals. We’ve not implemented this one yet, but it’s on the top of our list!
Each team was given the opportunity to test – and ultimately select – the app that was best suited to their needs and way of working. The business apps were chosen based on their functionality, how easy it was to get them up and running (most took less than two hours), how easy it is to use them, cost, and most importantly, their customer service. We’ll see how we get on, but so far we’re saving money and seeing some great results!
This post was authored by Richard Craig, CEO of our U.K. partner, Technology Trust. It originally appeared on the Technology Trust blog.
Image: Sean MacEntee / CC BY 2.0
by Ariel Gilbert-Knight, Director, Content, TechSoup
This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International License.
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