Our Tools: What We Use & Why
It takes some pretty sturdy programs to keep our ship afloat, and we love what we use. Each program or tool helps us in a way that’s unique, efficient, and totally streamlined to keep our clients up and running, as well as their requests resolved in a timely manner. We thought it was due time for us to share what tools we use and why we use them. Perhaps it will help you and your growing business find ways to improve and enhance your practices. Let’s get started!
Communication is a key ingredient to our overall success. With clients living across the globe, and the same for our GSATi family, who now cover three continents at this point, we thoroughly researched and tested programs to bring us to the two primary communication tools that we use today, Zendesk and Slack.
Zendesk is our hub for all client needs and most of our client interactions. Zendesk provides a suite of support apps that help us get to client issues faster and with greater efficacy. Clients simply shoot us an email at our support address when an issue arises. They can also generate ticket requests on their own through our request system, as well as check statuses of tickets already in existence. It’s a great space where clients can peer in on progress, as well as gain relatively quick answers to their issue or issues at hand.
Slack is what we use to chat quickly with our own team members, as well as monitor Zendesk notifications, thanks to the easy-to-implement Slack to Zendesk integrations. Team members are able to message one another individually, create group chats, or use one of our many shared channels. We also use shared channels based on the project we are working on, or when working with a client. We even have a “water cooler” chat, so we are able to take a break and share goofy things with one another, even though we are spread across the globe.
In addition to staying connected via chat programs, we also use a video communication platform called Zoom. But Zoom isn’t just for video chat on our daily standups. We use Zoom to host training sessions, catch up calls with clients, and internal meetings. With Zoom’s cloud storage capabilities, we’re able to record trainings with clients and send files their way, or help other clients run weekly calls that are recorded and stored to be viewed later by other individuals on their own websites. Though Slack has some of these capabilities as well, we have found Zoom to be more reliable in connectivity and use by any kind of individual we may need to interact with outside of our own team. They even have a mobile application for when you need to take meetings on the go, or are running late to the office.
While Slack and Zendesk may fair well in creating paper trails through conversation and tickets, we also need space to track workflows, sprints, and active campaigns or projects in a unified space, so that any of our team members can access or be made fully aware of progress at any given time. That way, while our US and Canada-based team sleeps, our UK members can catch up and keep the wheels moving along. Check out Confluence and Jira.
We’ve written about Confluence in previous blogs in our praises about Jira/Confluence, but we’re always happy to revisit, because their programs are true lifesavers. Confluence is a documentation program that allows our team to collaborate on projects, content development, and share files. We store all relative project documents in one place from notes, requirements, and project discussions. It’s truly been a dream since we made the switch to Confluence.
Jira is a proprietary issue tracking product developed by Atlassian that allows bug tracking and agile project management. Did you know that it’s ALSO named after your friendly neighborhood super lizard, Godzilla, aka Gojira? The namesake makes perfect sense - it’s capabilities (for us) are gigantic, and allow us to knock out tasks with the power of one big tail swish of the Lizard King. We use JIRA to manage all of our projects, both internal and external, in a manner that makes it easy for clients to monitor, as well as our management teams. It links our progress to Sprints, which we adhere to pretty closely thanks to the help of our Scrum Master, who hails Jira/Confluence as one of the best programs to have as an organization. Obviously, Jira and Confluence can’t truly exist as one without the other, but we aren’t contesting it anytime soon.
Last, but certainly not least, we find ourselves addressing one of Humankind’s most coveted entities: time. We certainly can appreciate time, as it is our best indicator for our team to be paid and our expertise valued and appreciated in the form of financial compensation. We maintain a commitment to full transparency with our clients, down to the last second, or in some cases, the last cent. Let’s talk about how exactly we track our time, thanks to the incredibly complex and profoundly helpful, Harvest.
With so many clients and tasks to complete, we invested in a program that helps us track time, build invoices, and develop reports. Meet: Harvest, the golden egg of time management. Since our switch to Harvest, we have been able to find ways to improve team functionality, analyze how our time is spent, and report back to our clients down to the exact percentage of time with each invoice. The culmination of these efforts have given us a great gift that serves both ourselves and our clients: saved money! And saved money means client satisfaction and retention.
We know that these aforementioned programs are not the only ones in existence for taking care of tasks like time, communication, and documentation. They just so happen to be what works best for us. As always, we recommend you do a little bit of shopping around, some software speed dating as it were, before settling into a new program. Cost will always vary, and sometimes things don’t function exactly as you imagined. Rest assured, there is a software out there that works for you.