In last week's post I detailed several great productivity tools that I've found helpful, including Google's productivity suite, Slack, Trello, and Notion. All of those resources have assisted in smoothing out the processes and procedures at Twin Engine Labs and CodePilot.
This week I'm sharing even more tools, apps, and resources, and each of the ones mentioned are just as essential to our success and productivity as the others. So, here are some of the other services we use on a regular basis. Give some (or all) of them a try!
Securing accounts is one of the most important aspects of working with other companies and integrating their services. Without having secure information, sensitive information, such as credit card or bank account details, could be stolen by hackers or malware.
LastPass solves this problem by having a vault for storing passwords and login information, credit card and payment details, and sites that are integral to your business. This is much safer than storing passwords or payment information in your browser, because LastPass requires that you create a secure master password in order to access your account and vault.
Also, not having to remember secure passwords (alphanumerical characters, non-alphanumeric characters, appropriate length, etc.) is a huge plus, because it's too easy to forget random passwords that lack any personal association. LastPass solves this problem by generating and storing secure passwords on your behalf.
Surprisingly, many people even place passwords on notes stored on their computer! Having third-party storage is much more secure, and it is definitely the way to go if you want to avoid having your information or identity stolen by hackers or malware.
Instead of wondering where you have your important information stored, LastPass has folders for various purposes. There are private folders that only display information for personal use, and there are also folders that can be shared among teams.
This also increases security, because access can be granted or revoked depending on the type of visibility necessary. This is incredibly handy, because any secure information we need at Twin Engine Labs and CodePilot.io can be shared amongy team memebers without anyone having to ask for additional information.
This also improves our efficiency, because having to stop and ask for usernames, passwords, or account information can be needlessly time consuming. This is much more secure than writing these details on paper or sharing via text message or email. By using LastPass you can guarantee a much higher level of security, company-wide.
While assisting customers with integrations with their CRM we soon realized that many CRM or ERP software systems are not only inefficient, but also complicated to integrate with other services (i.e. API issues). So, we began looking for other solutions to offer. After a great deal of research we decided to try Odoo (formerly OpenERP).
At first, Odoo was difficult to figure out, because there are not many resources online that explain how Odoo works or how to create custom configurations, such as changing forms or adding fields. However, after a week of exploration, we collaborated to create a detailed guide for installing and customizing Odoo, along with explanations for each and every feature within a standard Odoo installation (I'll be sharing more about this in my next post).
Other than the initial learning curve, Odoo is powerful . There is an extensive list of available add-ons for purchase, and all of the add-ons are one-time purchases instead of recurring payments unless you buy directly from the company. Then, there may be more fees associated with setting up an Odoo account. The best route is to hire a company to setup an Odoo instance for your business, such as CodePilot.io (we've done a lot of work to become great at Odoo!).
Available modules for Odoo include inventory capabilities (warehouses, stock, transportation, logistics), an applicant tracking system, and an accounting module. We began using Odoo for our own sales pipeline and tasks, and it's better than many PAID options we've tried.
The sales module incorporates a pipeline for organizing the state of a sale or lead, graphs to display sales trends, and the means to import contacts from your old CRM into Odoo. In addition, various roles can be assigned to team members according to their position.
Along with the various modules available for Odoo users, the app also integrates seamlessly with other commonly used apps and services, such as Google's productivity suite. Other examples include integrations with Salesforce, Magneto, and Mail Chimp. Odoo wouldn't be nearly as valuable or useful without the ability to integrate with other services, but this isn't an issue. Integrations can be handled with ease.
We can setup a customized version of Odoo for you for a one-time fee, including any of the modules or add-ons necessary for meeting your business needs.
If your business deals with multiple projects or needs to keep track of your team's hours, then you need a tool that will manage these tasks for you. Look no further, because Harvest is that tool. Harvest is engineered to handle complexity, so it's an excellent choice.
We use harvest to manage our projects and to delineate between Twin Engine Labs and CodePilot.io. This works well, because team members can be added to projects to and assigned roles, such as project manager.
Hours and Hours
For tracking hours, (for both payroll and billable accounts) Harvest features a timer that team members can turn on when they begin working. This is optional, but it helps individuals to gain a better understanding of when they are most productive, if they so choose. The only issue I've run into is that I'll forget to turn the timer off, and this defeats the purpose of the timer tool. Otherwise, the timekeeping features of Harvest are an asset for payroll functionality.
It's also necessary to track the quantity of hours that are being dedicated to projects for the sake of reporting financials and records to clients (and sometimes the government). Using Harvest alleviates the stress of attempting to manually log hours into a spreadsheet or onto paper.
Do you have a list of leads that you would love to have details about, such as information about the company they work for? Alternatively, would you like to discover the email addresses of everyone who works for a company?
Clearbit makes such tasks simple, all you are required to provide is either a name or a domain name (the name of the domain that comes after the @ symbol, such as firstname.lastname@example.org). With only that information, Clearbit can provide you with tons of data about your leads.
That's an essential productivity tool, because having to spend hours researching leads can be a bit daunting. Not to mention the value of your time in regard to discovering information on your own versus using a service like Clearbit to do the hard work for you.
This is the latest "productized service" from Clearbit, and it's one of the most exciting tools I've found in a long time. By hooking Clearbit to your gmail account, you can begin discovering information about your contacts right from your inbox! From their site:
Simply type in a company name and a target role to discover email addresses — directly within Gmail's compose window.
Clearbit also surfaces your existing contacts alongside the ones it discovers. Never hunt for a forgotten email again.
Not only that, but Clearbit Connect will show you contextual data about anyone you're searching. Information such as the company they work for or their primary markets. It also returns a photo of the person if available. Clearbit boasts that their leads are always fresh due to their monthly data updates.
Enjoy the aesthetics. Their site is beautiful.
We've used Clearbit in our automated enrichment scenarios, and it's been key in many of our endeavors. Clearbit's API is easy to work with, and it has enabled us to do many things we would not normally be able to do, such as create advanced marketing strategies for ourselves and for our customers. Using Clearbit for automation is a no-brainer.
Legality and Privacy
And, it's all perfectly legal, so you never have to worry about the legality of the service. This is a great insurance against the one thing no business owner can afford: a lawsuit.
According to their site, "Clearbit complies with the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield Framework as set forth by the U.S. Department of Commerce regarding the collection, use, and retention of personal information transferred from the European Union to the United States. Clearbit has certified to the Department of Commerce that it adheres to the Privacy Shield Principles.
Take a Peak
From my perspective, it's important that Clearbit is thorough about privacy laws, because this is one of the major concerns in the modern technology age. Clearbit even allows users to manage what information appears about them when being searched by others, via the site's Claim page. I reviewed my own information that was processed using my personal email address. (If you're curious, mine was blank. I guess I'm not as cool as I thought.)
So, if you are wondering what would come up if someone used Clearbit to find out about you, then go ahead and check out what they've got on you. This is a great opportunity to update information about yourself, such as your Facebook or twitter profile links or links to your blog or website.
It's also possible to remove your email account (and corresponding data) from Clearbit all together. This is would prevent you from being searched by others, but keep in mind that Clearbit isn't the only service that assists in searches. There's also Full Contact and Email Hunter. If you want to thoroughly remove yourself from search lists, then you should also check into their privacy terms.
Either way, Clearbit is one tool that everyone should use for procuring the best and most relevant list of leads. Using Clearbit makes for better business, because the more insight you have about your leads, the better connections you can make. This is one tool that no one should go without.
Every business needs a secure and effective way to handle contracts. Using the postal service is both time consuming and inefficient, and it's completely unnecessary! We use RightSignature for all of our contract signing needs, and it's the best tool I've ever used for this purpose.
RightSignature allows us to upload a PDF and create signature blocks to our documents. This is much simpler than using pen and paper to sign contracts, and it makes everything much faster. When you're ready to close a deal, nothing beats the convenience of having secure, online documents. In addition, contracts can be sent to users in a specified order, so the first signer can receive the document and review the contract before the second signer, and so on.
Keep Everyone Connected
RightSignature also allows you to CC relevant parties who need to receive a copy of the completed documents. This ensures that no one of importance is left out of the loop. This ease, speed, and convenience makes RightSignature an invaluable productivity tool for every business to have in their toolbox.
CodePilot.io incorportates all of the productivity tools and resources I've mentioned in this two-part post. For custom automation, configurations of integrations, and application engineering, CodePilot has all of the right tools at our disposal.
Our agency, Twin Engine Labs , regularly builds web applications and sites for a wide-array of customers, and CodePilot automation has turned complex processes and workflows into brilliantly smooth, automated scenarios and modules. Do you have automation work or custom engineering that requires dedicated and experienced professionals? If so, connect with us. We'll be glad to help.