The professional tech stack

One of the best things about my job is that I get to talk to hundreds of professionals each week about what tools they are using, what they are trying to replace, and what they are trying to keep.

Whether you’re a startup, growing business, or weather professional, here’s my best-of-breed software list for digital marketing, web design /development, I.T. consulting, and accounting firms.

All professional services

  1. Email/Calendar/Documents: Google Apps
  2. Accounting: Xero

Digital Marketing

  1. Project collaboration: Basecamp
  2. Time tracking: Harvest
  3. Project management: LiquidPlanner
  4. Team chat: Slack
  5. Sales pipeline: Pipedrive
  6. Issue tracking: Zendesk
  7. Social media: Hootsuite
  8. A/B Testing: Optimizely

Web design /development

  1. Bug tracking and software project management: JIRA
  2. Team chat: Hipchat
  3. Personal project management: Trello
  4. In-app messaging: Intercom.io
  5. Time tracking: Freckle

I.T. Consulting

  1. Project management: Mavenlink
  2. Support desk: Freshdesk
  3. VoIP telephone: RingCentral
  4. Remote monitoring: GFI Max

Accounting

  1. Accounting package: Xero
  2. Payroll: ZenPayroll
  3. Project Management: TeamworkPM

All-in-one or best of breed?

Ah, the perennial debate: should I connect a bunch of tools together or go with an all-in-one system? Let’s look at the pros and cons of each.

Collection of tools

Pros

  1. You get to pick best of breed tools that often specifically address your needs — especially when you think about your problems and how to solve them.
  2. The growth of APIs (and API connection services like Zapier and IFTTT) allow your tools to talk to each other.

Cons

  1. You’re holding together a system with manual processes and weak links (APIs). Human error and software updates are bound to mess things up. As Bill Benjamin from Blue Bolt said, “Early on we did not want to go with “best of breed” solutions and live with integration issues.” And Bill is an integration specialist!
  2. You lose transparency between tools such as reporting, quoting from a CRM to a project, or seamless invoicing.

All-in-one PSA (i.e., AffinityLive)

Pros

  1. An integrated system: the areas of the system are built to talk with each other.
  2. Training: the user experience is the same for each piece of the software so skills learned in one area transfer to the other… but make sure that the user interface is actually beneficial. Bill Benjamin from Blue Bolt notes, “Many older, entrenched PSA Solutions that we looked at such as Connectwise, WorkEtc., and TigerPaw come from an ERP perspective, which means that their interface is very dated. AffinityLive has a user-friendly interface- this is very helpful for training.”

Cons

  1. The workflow and ease of use usually falls short of individual tools.
  2. You can’t peace together your favorite tools: if you like the project management and the CRM, but hate the ticketing side of it, you’re stuck with the full bundle.
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