It’s so easy to fall into this trap with modern software. Not wanting to switch tools because you have invested so much time on it, your staff are so used to it, it’s built into all your workflows, and maybe some developers have even tied the API’s into other tools you use. Using something else will obviously cost you valuable time and money, to transition, and upskill staff.
The Grass is always Greener
On the other hand, maybe you want to be the early adopter, someone who always tests out new tools, or maybe you suffer from Shiny Object Syndrome (SOS). As I write this, this is things like the mass experimentation with ‘AI can do a new thing’.
N.B. I’m not knocking AI, I wholeheartedly believe it will be the future in a lot of areas, but the current generation definitely doesn’t solve all the Product Development problems, and can sometimes be a distraction.
It’s a difficult balance to strike, if you never look to change or adopt new things you’ll slip behind your competitors. Equally, if you try every new thing, and never master one you’ll miss out on the efficiencies that can be gained.
With that said, I’ll talk to you about a few of the tools that we use here at Fortnight.
So this one is three-part, there’s the Email part, and there's the Direct Messaging part, and lastly the Video Calling part.
Instant Messaging, there's probably not a tool we use more across the business than Slack. In this era with so much remote working where there is much less “just popping to someone's desk to ask something”, we can’t survive without instant messaging.
We love Slack, when the world evolved from Lync or Skype for Business, Slack was one of the first of the next generation, which helped it gain a massive market share.
It’s easy to use, you can create channels to organise everything, and the dealbreaker for us is that we can create client channels and give clients access to chat directly with us via direct, instant messaging, for the duration of a project.
Realistically I can’t think of any company that can function these days without email. There are loads of options out there, even some free, but if you want to run a business, you want the reliability, and security of a well-known supplier, and this will come with a nominal cost per user, per month in most cases. The two titans fighting it out in this category are Office 365, and Google Workspace (Formerly G Suite).
They both have most of the business functionality you require, Email, Cloud File Storage, Calendaring, Video Calls, plus access to a suite of office apps for creating Documents, Slideshows, Spreadsheets, and more.
They each have their own pros and cons, and pricing for each starts comparably cheap. More people will likely be familiar with Office 365 (for now), having grown up using Outlook and Microsoft Office, but over time that will change some schools have already started to make the switch so that can’t really be the winning argument.
In our opinion, Google Workspace has a much cleaner interface and is more user-friendly.
Sticking with Google Workspace, we move into the realm of Video Calling. Teams, Slack, Google Meet, Zoom, Webex and more. The list in this category has grown so much in the last few years.
But you already have Slack, “What about Huddles in Slack?” I hear you say? Slack does some Video calling, and it’s not bad, but for our needs in particular setting up calls with new prospects, Google Meet is just much simpler.
We prefer to use Google Meet, it comes included in our package with Google Workspace, and it meets our needs, there are some others out there that are slightly more feature-rich, it’s not great at running public webinars for example.
ClickUp self stylises as an ‘All in one’ Project Management tool, and it covers a lot of the bases, it can do Collaborative Documents, Reporting, Time Tracking, and importantly able to create and manage Projects and ‘tasks’, in other tools you may be more familiar with ‘User Stories and Epics’, but these are largely the same across lots of project management tools, allowing you to add or remove loads of default fields, plus some custom ones you want too.
The real strength in tools like this is being able to share certain views and reports with clients and build your own automations with staff internally to help it fit with your own workflows.
ClickUp is currently halfway through a major upgrade, dubbed Click Up 3.0, it’s had a lick of paint already, it’s introduced a number of tasks that bring AI to predictively write and create tasks and content, and it has a backend upgrade in the pipeline that is promising to increase speeds and make the whole experience smoother too.
An honourable mention in this category has to go to the Atlassian Suite of tools, ClickUp has a lot going for it, which makes it a great project management tool but Atlassian tends to be favoured by a lot of developers. Jira for ticketing and user stories, Confluence for documentation, BitBucket for version control, Trello for tasks and Kanban boards, and more.
There are a few good options here, and critically it will probably be down to whether you are more Tech heavy, as an organisation, or Project heavy. They are both great options.
Maze is a product we use for User Testing, and UI/UX Testing, it allows us to create prototypes and tests straight from our Figma files to run through with potential users to get fast feedback. It allows us to record sessions, heatmap where users click and hover, see where people misclick when we give them a task and more.
What’s more, it gives you the ability to test with an audience of your own, by sharing links, or they will source participants for you.
Pollfish is one of the major tools we use as part of our User Research phase, like many other Survey tools out there (Type Form, Jot Forms, Google Forms, it allows us to build up questionnaires using a variety of question types and formats. However, the secret sauce here is that it allows you to source User Research participants by building up an audience that you want to target based on a number of factors from Geography, Gender, Occupation, Age and a whole lot more. It has drastically sped up our user research process and helped us gain good user data, in bulk, quickly.
In the ever-evolving landscape of software and tools, finding the right balance between sticking with the familiar and embracing innovation is key. The tools we've explored at Fortnight blend efficiency and functionality, addressing common challenges. Remember, while change brings new possibilities, mastering the tools that align with your goals ensures optimal efficiency. Choose wisely, adapt thoughtfully, and watch your workflows thrive.