How third-party apps saved the day and levelled up our business

How third-party apps saved the day and levelled up our business

By Luke Dean-Weymark, Compass Co Founder + Director.

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There has been so much discourse – and debate – about the realities of ‘remote’ working, and only more so since the pandemic sent even the most traditional office-based businesses home. 

Compass’ own COVID-induced shift to remote working began as a temporary necessity but has since become a conscious choice.

For our team, the rewards vastly outweigh the drawbacks. From a recruitment point of view, it has opened us up to such a wider talent pool as we’re no longer as limited by borders, bus routes and the stresses of traffic-riddled commutes. Productivity is at an all time high, while we still get a fix of in-person collaboration each week when we get together at a co-working space every Monday to kick off the week with a bang. 

However, this new way of operating couldn’t be possible (or profitable!) if we hadn’t established a number of life-saving systems, processes and automations to keep things running smoothly wherever we are. 

Implementing the right tools for remote work has the power to completely transform your business. Whether it’s workflow, time tracking or communication that causes the most challenges, let me assure you, you’re definitely not alone, and someone smart has probably already invented a tech solution!

Let me share our favourite five: 

Source: Google Cloud

Google Workspace (formerly known as G Suite) 

Once ‘G-Suite’, now ‘Google Workspace’, has been on the top of our ‘can’t-live-without’ list since day one of Compass’ life. It’s the back-end of our emails, our calendars, our meetings and all of our cloud-based documents both internally and externally. 

Google Drive, one of its main functions, enables a seamless way of working on shared files in real time, ensuring no edits are ever missed. Questions or comments can be made by all contributors, changes are easy to approve or reject, and the latest version is always saved. 

This very blog post is being drafted in Google docs, so our copyeditor can proof it and our marketing manager can upload it, all while avoiding dozens of attachments flying back and forth. 

However, our inboxes and schedules all being connected via Google means if we ever do need to jump on a quick video call to iron anything out, it’s as simple as a click to get everyone on one screen at the same time. 

One other thing we love about the whole Workspace ecosystem is how well built it is for mobiles and iPads, so finding that old spreadsheet from 2018 when you’re on the fly is easy as pie.

Features + Cost

Source: Asana

Asana

Want to know something (other than hard cash) that can make or break your business in no time? 

I’ll give you a clue, it’s formed of two words and five syllables…

The answer is: Project. Management. 

Why? Well, because the bigger your clients, team and services become, the bigger your projects become too – and with them all comes more logistics, time frames and stakeholders. Basically, more movingparts.

We could never deliver the 25+ campaigns we have going on in a given week without the indispensable assistance of Asana.

Asana is a web and mobile app designed to help organise, track, and manage work. It helps us monitor our extensive ‘to-do’ tasks across all projects, stay in sync, hit deadlines and ultimately, achieve goals. 

Every partnership we take on – whether it’s PR, Organic Social Media, Content creation and everything in between – is allocated its own project board, gets mapped out from start to finish and then assigned to whoever is responsible for the various steps involved.

This level of visibility across everything the entire Compass team is working on means we can see how projects are progressing at any given moment, solve problems as soon as they arise and all be on the same page about what actions need to be taken next. 

Info + Costs

Source: Clockify

Clockify 

I’m not exaggerating when I say Clockify kept Compass alive, and not only kicking, but thriving last year. 

Being a services based business, our entire model revolves around the amount of time it takes to do our jobs. Many people would see this app as a way to keep a watchful eye on the amount of time their team is logging while they’re working from home. And that is 100% what it’s for, but for different reasons than you probably imagine. 

Clockify enables us to set an approximate amount of time that we believe a project should take. Then that project can be broken down into specific tasks for certain team members to achieve. Once set up, we’re able to see how we’re tracking as a team towards completing the project within the time we initially estimated. 

We had no idea how powerful this type of information could be until we fully committed to logging our time for a few months, but once we did it unlocked a level of efficiency that we had no idea was possible.

Say for instance we approximate that a job will take 50 hours in a month to complete, but we spend 25 hours in the first week going back and forth troubleshooting with a client; it’s highly likely that we’re going to run over our 50 allocated hours much quicker than planned. Thanks to Clockify, the ability to spot these issues early and communicate them clearly has been invaluable. 

Features + Costs

Source: Slack

Slack

Slack is the lifeboat that stops us from drowning in an ocean of continual emails on a daily basis.  Instead of clogging up your colleague’s inbox for the upteenth time in one morning, Slack is an instant messaging platform that integrates with lots of other add-ons (Giphy is a must), so every piece of comms you might need to send or receive can live in one well-organised place for eternity!

Much like Asana’s set-up, teams can start different ‘channels’ for different purposes, invite multiple users, and engage in discussions without the dreaded endlessness of ‘reply-alls’. 

From a usability perspective, the search function is especially fantastic and Slack’s UX design makes it so intuitive to use that you could onboard your grandma!

It’s this ease, reliability and all-encompassing quality that makes it a firm favourite amongst organisations – both supersized and small – (including ours!) around the world. 

Functions + Costs

Source: Sprout Social

Sprout Social

Content production, curation and distribution is a core part of Compass’ work. On any given day we’re in charge of planning, posting and maintaining over 15+ social media accounts, let alone our own. 

Sprout Social is the reason this doesn’t cause hourly migraines. 

It’s where we schedule all Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest posts in plenty of time. This way, we’re always ahead of our partners’ content calendars, giving ourselves headspace to be strategic about the why, what, when, who and how of each post we create for them. 

Sprout Social has also allowed us to be agile with our reporting, allowing us to measure metrics across the platforms we schedule our content for and channels like LinkedIn. The ability to analyze paid and organic campaigns in one place with automated reporting is a big time saver. Plus, social metrics can also be exported, allowing us to deep dive into content performance and pillars at lightning speed. 

Functions + Costs

This collection of tools has been totally integral to our success, and to be honest…sanity; saving our business countless hours and all kinds of potential errors. The numbers really do speak for themselves, and our post-pandemic efficiency has thankfully made Compass stronger than ever before. 

Now, as Nat and I are about to embark on parental leave for the second time since founding the business, I couldn’t be more grateful – and relieved – to have these firmly in place and habitually ticking over. 

We’d love to hear some tricks of the trade that are vital to your working days.

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