Recent events have triggered a global 'mass home-working experiment'.
While this may seem like a drastic change in the way many companies work, some businesses were already equipped to execute their business continuity plan. This is because they have had a remote working plan in place for some time.
Adopting technology tools such as Zoom, Slack and Xero has helped many businesses with their continuity planning during this period. By establishing a strong, digital-first foundation (where most, if not all, business systems are on the cloud), it empowers the workforce to work from home, should a crisis occur. Beyond productivity and cost savings, this is an essential part of any business continuity plan, especially in the dynamic and globalised work that we live in today.
If you are in the process of adopting flexible and remote working, below are some of the key technology and tools that you can use to support your team.
DocuSign lets you and your clients sign contracts electronically, so important business deals aren’t delayed just because you don’t have access to a printer. DocuSign encrypts e-documents and e-signatures as well as creates a unique hash for these. This hash can be used to verify authenticity; it can indicate whether a document does not match the signed one that was originally uploaded.
Aside from e-signatures, DocuSign also offers contract lifecycle management, document integration, and contract negotiation. It’s also accessible by mobile.
A DropBox company, HelloSign is a cloud-based solution for people to sign and fill out documents. It can be accessed from a computer or mobile device and includes easy-to-use drag and drop functionality for adding signatures into documents.
Adobe Sign (formerly EchoSign) is yet another enterprise e-signing solution with similar features to HelloSign and DocuSign. Adobe Sign offers many integrations, allowing you to e-sign documents online, as well as track them.
Miro’s collaborative whiteboard platform facilitates brainstorming in remote teams. Your team can work asynchronously on zoomable canvases, adding visual elements to help with the ideation process, and creating information hubs to keep all project stakeholders updated.
To seamlessly fit into existing workflows, Miro can be integrated with tools like Dropbox, Slack, Google Suite, JIRA, and more.
Many companies use Google Drive to collaborate on and share files, especially larger ones that e-mail can’t handle. These can range from word documents, to spreadsheets, or presentation slides.
Aside from the platform’s robust permissions settings (you can decide exactly who can access which files and the level of access), Google Drive also provides a myriad of collaboration methods on a project.
For example — say you require feedback on an accounting report. Simply share a PDF through Google Drive. Others can then highlight specific sections and leave comments anywhere on the document. Users can be tagged or assigned tasks through comments, and will be notified through email.
You can collaborate in real-time with multiple people, both within your practice and outside of it. Google Drive is free, but you can pay an additional fee for more cloud storage space.
Microsoft Teams is is a unified communication and collaboration platform that combines workplace chat, video meetings, file storage, and app integration. While many platforms used for workplace communications can provide overwhelming, Teams makes it easier for users to find the information that they are looking for.
Teams divides information into selected channels, so you’ll only be able to view messages, documents, and meetings pertaining to that particular channel. As a result, there’s less chance of you being distracted by unimportant conversations, and you’ll spend less time cleaning up a messy or unorganised inbox, which as we all know, can be extremely time-consuming to organise.
Similarly, Teams allows you to store 'live' documents within the system, meaning that multiple people could access, review and edit something at any one given time.
Zoom is a popular HD video conferencing tool that can also be used to host webinars in place of in-person events or meetings. The free Zoom plan lets you host meetings for up to 40 minutes. Not only can you host video calls — you can also share screens, whiteboard, control screens remotely, and enjoy HD video and audio. Their premium plan allows you to invite up to 100 participants and host meetings for up to 24 hours. This helps you keep important client meetings going even if you, your team, and/or client has implemented alternative work arrangements.
Slack is a communication tool that lets you create chat rooms (channels) organised by topic, send direct messages and documents, and make voice or video calls to anyone within your practice. Some of Slack’s best features are the ability to create bots and search any and all documents that have been shared on the platform.
Slack’s API allows users to create applications and automate processes based on certain triggers. It is highly compatible with many types of applications, frameworks, and services, such as Google Drive, Trello, Dropbox, Box, Zendesk, Zapier, and many more.
Dropbox was founded in 2007 as a file-sharing service, but it has since evolved to improve collaboration. For example, you can comment on files added by your clients. Dropbox Paper enables your team and clients to work on documents together simultaneously. You can also assign tasks and to-do lists.
One convenient feature of Dropbox is the ability to share folders and files with your clients even if they do not have a Dropbox account. This means they can easily access and download folders and documents, without compromising on security.
Xero offers a cloud-based accounting software platform for small and medium-sized businesses. Some of its features include automatic bank feeds, invoicing, purchase orders, and standard business and management reporting. It also supports multiple tax rates and currencies.
The true distinction of Xero lies in its app ecosystem of over 800+ business apps, ranging from payroll and HR systems to industry-specific software and tools. For example, Xero can be integrated with systems for inventory management, eCommerce, time-tracking, reporting, debtor tracking, and more.
Find the tools that work for you
Disasters can happen without warning. However, businesses cannot always afford to halt operations until the crisis ends. The main priority is to keep operations running smoothly, minimise losses, and maintain customer services and relationships.
Fortunately, it’s 2020 and we have plenty of digital tools at our disposal. There’s a cloud solution out there for every business function, allowing companies to continue working and collaborating during a crisis. If you need help in establishing which tools would be best for moving your business' finances into the cloud; get in touch with our team and we can advise you based on your specific needs.