As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage countries worldwide, with an estimated 350,000 cases and 15,000 deaths in more than 190 countries as of writing, many of us would agree that the world as we know today will not be the same once all of these is over.
Regulations, especially regarding travel and healthcare, will need a lot of updating. Supply chains, for both public and private organizations, will need a lot of tweaking and optimization, minimizing reliance on a handful of industrial powerhouses for critical goods and services. And with global financial markets crashing harder than 2008, businesses, specifically small to mid-sized ones, will need to rethink business continuity measures and crisis management guidelines.
In our new “pandemics are the new reality” world, businesses, and SMEs, in particular, will need the convergence of business processes and IT systems to robustly weather crises such as typhoons, hurricanes, pandemics, and even, wars. Here we list our Top 5 cloud-based tools, all of which we have been using in MaroonStudios for the past few years, that has allowed us to continue our operations with relative ease amid COVID-19.
Crucial to any company, whether there is a crisis or not, is the ability for employees, managers and top management to effectively communicate with one another. For this purpose, our go-to has been Slack. Aimed at disrupting the email-centric workforce, Slack provides an intuitive and easy to use interface for teams of all sizes to easily collaborate on specific projects, topics or departments through the concept of channels. As a technology company, what we love with Slack is its ability to integrate with almost any cloud service imaginable, enabling us to automate integrations with our code repositories, timesheets, and productivity suites.
Slack has a free tier for basic features and multiple payment tiers for more features and capabilities.
Productivity: G Suite
Now that you are able to collaborate easily and reliably, you now have to work! With most crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, requiring people to work remotely, a flexible and portable productivity suite is a necessity. Our choice for this tool for the past 6 years has been G Suite by Google. With its relatively affordable price tag of USD 4.20 per user/month, G Suite offers Gmail Business, Calendar, Google Drive, Hangouts Meet (for teleconferencing), Hangouts Chat (if you are not a fan of Slack), Docs, Sheets Slides, Forms, Sites, and Keep, it is very hard to beat by any competition. Because of its cloud prowess, our employees can literally use any available computer to work anytime, anywhere, without worrying at all for any data loss.
Project Management: Asana
Most companies regardless of industry manage multiple projects at a time, whether that is for an external customer or for internal consumption. Our business in MaroonStudios requires us to manage multiple concurrent complex projects at the same time. Doing so has been a pain for us for quite some time until we started using Asana about 3 years ago. Asana, which is available for free but with limited features, allows for easy project task management and collaboration through its web and mobile applications. It offers easy integration to Slack too, which is additional brownie points for us. As a manager, we now have either a bird’s eye view or a zoomed-in view of all the company’s projects on demand.
System Infrastructure: Amazon Web Services (AWS)
For most crises, especially for natural disasters, one of the biggest fail points of any organization is the loss of infrastructure. This is especially true for on-premise based infrastructure that relies on physical data centers which are highly susceptible to natural disasters. Through a pure cloud infrastructure such as Amazon Web Services, you get the same (if not better) performance from any on-premise based setup, without the risk of losing precious data of your company and its customers. Not to mention that such setup is also more cost-effective and more secure.
Finance & Accounting: QuickBooks Online
As the old adage goes, any business, regardless of industry or size, has making money at its primary and most basic purpose. Indeed, as a business, it is of utmost importance to be able to securely and confidently store and manage your company’s financials, especially during a crisis. Through QuickBooks Online, our company has effectively moved away from dependency on stacks of paperwork in our Finance & Admin Department (although admittedly, we still keep ou hardcopies in the filing cabinets for safekeeping and posterity) to a cloud setup that allows us to automatically issue invoices, track sales, and generate performance reports such as P&L and cash flow statements.
Going through crises such as pandemics are not walks in the park. This is especially true if you are a medical frontliner, or a business owner. Hopefully, these easy to use and affordable cloud-based tools will make it easier for you and your business to survive COVID-19 and any natural or man-made disaster that comes your way.