Seven (Mostly Free) Tools I Use To Manage My Team

December 1, 2014

Manage_Team_PinterestRunning a blogging business takes a lot of work. It might not seem that way to some people, but those people are wrong.

In fact, it takes so much work that at one point in the past, I gave up on it. It was just too stressful and was taking up too much of my time.

When I decided to get back at it, I knew that I needed to be more efficient and that I needed to get help. So I hired my first Virtual Assistant.

This literally changed my life. Things were happening in my business even when I wasn’t the one doing them. Since then, I’ve been through a few Virtual assistants. At one point, I had one full-time assistant and one who worked with me part time.

I now run a small team of two – one Virtual assistant and myself. Although one can argue that it is my wife that runs me 😉

We’ve managed to streamline a lot of things in this business to make it work well (although we are constantly looking to improve) and there are six tools we use to make that happen.

I’ve written about the tools I use to manage my team in the past, but they have evolved over time. So, I decided to revisit that list.

Sidenote: I use the FREE version of most of these tools

 Dashlane

Cost: FREE | $39.99 for Premium

Dashlane

One of the things I get asked often is whether it doesn’t make me nervous to share my passwords for my various accounts with my virtual assistant.

My answer is no, for two reasons:

My Virtual Assistant has been with me for a very long time and I trust her. I would give her my password to my bank account without any hesitation because I know that she can be trusted (btw, she’s going to read this in preparing this article for publication and maybe even blush a little, lol – YOU ROCK NOEMI).

I use a very secure system for managing and sharing my passwords so that it’s able to be used, but not fully accessed.

In the past, I’ve used Lastpass, and they are both great systems. However, I recently switched to Dashlane because I LOVE IT. It basically generates unique passwords for you, encrypts them, allows you to access them from anywhere and share them with strict controls.

I trust my assistant, but I DON’T trust those crazy hackers out there who are smart enough to break through my passwords if I don’t use a system like this. Whether or not you have a virtual assistant, you want to use something like Dashlane if you value security.

This is probably the most important tool I use.

Get 6 Months Of The Premium Version for FREE (Must use this link)

Google Drive

Cost: FREE for 15GB | Storage plans

Google Drive

Yeah yeah, I know – Google is taking over the world. Well, they have definitely taken over my world and I’m ok with it.

We use Google Drive to organize, share and store our files. These include blog articles, outlines, transcripts, images, documents, spreadsheets and anything else you’d think of storing on a hard drive.

Why do we use it? Because I HATE losing data. I’ve had way too many hard drives crash on me. Honestly, I’m starting to think that I’m the problem.

Well, I never worry about that problem anymore, because in order for me to lose my files, not only does my hard drives need to crash, but so would Google’s. Fortunately, they have MUCH MORE money than I will probably ever have, and much more security and redundancy involved in how they store this content in the cloud.

Also, I can always control who has access to specific files and folders. It’s a beautiful thing.

Click Here To Learn More About Google Drive

Trello

Cost: FREE

This is my relatively new secret weapon for productivity. When I first started outsourcing, I knew I had to set up procedures for the tasks that needed to be done in my business. I took a lot of time to create manuals to give to my assistants.

Manage_Team_Trello

By doing this, my Virtual Assistants felt relatively comfortable doing what needed to be done consistently from the very beginning. Yes, they had to learn some of the nuances of how I do business, but the general outline was there.

Here’s the problem, after looking at them a few times, most people just forget they exist and never look at them again – myself included.

Trello uses a system of boards, lists and cards that allow you to set up your process, and take your cards through that process. It does so while always keeping the entire process in front of you so that you don’t skip any steps.

It also gives you the ability to discuss any tasks from within the cards, attach files and do a number of other cool things.

It’s all kind of hard to explain in text format, so here’s a video of how we use it for my podcast episodes.

Click Here To Learn More About Trello

Slack

Cost: FREE

Effective communication is essential when it comes to business. Sometimes, you will need to have conversations with team members in real time.

In the past, we’ve used Skype for this and it worked well except for one thing – you had to be logged into Skype. Now, this would seem simple, until you’re in the middle of a big project and your friend (or even your mother) calls.

Manage_Team_Slack

 

So, we started to use Slack for real time communication. It’s dedicated to business conversations and allows you to keep in touch easily without any distractions.

Click Here To Learn More About Slack

Jing

Cost: FREE

 

Manage_Team_Jing

Every so often, I have a one off task that I need my assistant to do that is just much easier to understand when shown than it is when typed out.

In the past, I used to record it via Screenflow, upload it to YouTube as an unlisted video, embed it onto a page on my blog (sometimes), and send it to her.

Now, I just use Jing. It’s so easy to record your screen and share it without thinking about any tech.

Click Here To Learn More About Jing

Time Doctor

Cost: $12/month for one user. Each additional user is $9.99/month

 

Manage_Team_Time_Doctor

This is a time tracking program that you can have everyone on your team install on their computers and clock in whenever they are working. It’s awesome in that it keeps track of what they are doing, including taking random screenshots and monitoring their clicks and typing.

If you’re just getting to know your Virtual Assistant and feel the need to check to validate whether or not they are doing what you’re paying them for instead of browsing around facebook, while on the clock, this app will help you do that.

However, I use it for a different reason. If I were in a physical office with an assistant who was working on a specific design for me, I could always stop by his/her desk to see how it was going, and give suggestions for changes. This app allows me to do that virtually. You can easily go in and get a snapshot of how it’s looking.

Also, it makes it easily for her to invoice me for the time she put in, and then for me to pay her.

Click Here To Sign Up For Time Doctor

Xoom

Cost: $4.99 to send up to $2,999

 

Manage_Team_Xoom

My virtual assistant resides in the Philippines. Xoom makes it efficient and easy to send her money. She has the option to pick up cash at one of many locations in her area, or I can have it direct deposited to her bank account.

The beautiful thing is that it’s very affordable to send the money. It literally only costs $4.99 to send up to $2,999, and she doesn’t get charged a fee for receiving the money. That’s definitely much better than Paypal, whose rates are even higher than normal when sending money to the Philippines.

Also, when I do a transfer from my bank account to hers, it literally takes only a few hours to show up in her bank account as opposed to 3 to 5 business days with Paypal. Now if I can only get my parents to move from St. Maarten to the Philippines, the world would be a better place. Just kidding about that last part.

Click Here To Sign Up For Xoom

So there you have it. Those are pretty much all the tools I use in my business to manage my little team of two. But of course, there are many other great tools out there. What tools do you use to manage your team? Let us know in the comments below…

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17 Comments

  • Nate says:

    Leslie. Perfect timing as I was going to ask what tools you used. After looking at Cliff R’s site, I know you are using some audio-related tools (besides Sound Cloud), so please spill those beans or refer me to the podcast which may cover that. Also, need your assistance with a good VA in the PI. I used the Replace Yourself program in 2013 — $997 later — and was not too thrilled with the quals I got. Appreciate any insight since blogging and support are two things I must master in 2014.

  • Chirag says:

    Hi,
    Thank you for sharing that kinda good stuff…keep it up man!!!

  • Jeff Mason says:

    AWESOME! I got the most excited about Jing so I’ll definitely give that a try.

  • Sherri says:

    Leslie,

    This list is awesome. I was most happy to learn about Jing. What a simple way to communicate with my group for things I need done but would spend too much time explaining in the written form. Awesome! Plus, I’ve experienced it when you taught me how to use the automation function on GetReponse.com. The video explanation was soooooo helpful and I know if I’d had to read it, I would’ve gotten confused.

    I’m really glad to know about Dashlane. I didn’t have such a great experience with Lastpass. In fact, my designer couldn’t access any of the accounts with the things I gave him. I ultimately had to just give him the passwords and re-set them after he finished the work. I’ll give Dashlane a try.

    Thanks for these recommendations. They’re all awesome!

    • My wife LOVES dashlane because she thinks it’s pretty, lol.

      I was very used to Lastpass but Dashlane seems much more modern and simple. That’s really why I switched.

  • TechSpeedy says:

    Their are some free tools to manage the team. They are:-
    1. Producteev
    2. Podio
    3. Teambox
    4. Trello

  • paridhi says:

    Yeah! we can manage our team with a good way, if our team is hard working and they understand the work responsibilities….and we can assign work to individually in a targeted way.

    Webline Infosoft Dehradun

    Thanks for sharing comments

    Paridhi

  • Kapil says:

    Hi Leslie, first time I’ve stumbled upon your blog (via G+). While most of these tools are familiar I’m glad to have picked up on Xoom – sounds like a winner. PayPal has somewhat of a monopoly in this space so it’s good to see Xoom addresses some of the pitfalls. I suppose next steps would be to add more countries to their panel.

  • Hanna Cutts says:

    Good work Leslie. Just switched to proofhub after using trello + slack. Awesome tool with combination of both collaboration + project management. Have u tried it as well?

    • I’ve never heard of proofhub so I can’t really comment on it. I just looked at the website and from the looks of it, I think I much rather trello + slack 🙂

  • James Hennings says:

    Thanks for the list Leslie. I’m a team of one so my iPhone keeps me in check for right now. I love learning about new tools and what issues they handle. I might be putting the password tool in place though I really need that one.

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