Over the next few weeks, we will be reviewing the tools and services that we use and have found to be particularly helpful. This week we’ll start with a time tracking tool.

Do you ever switch between a variety of tasks multiple times during the day, and then struggle at the end of the day or week to estimate how much time was spent on each? I work both in Social Media management as well as Customer Support for our Cloud Services, and since part of my work was directly billable, I needed a way to note these details along the way.

I did quite a bit of research, and tried a few different products, and finally settled on Yast.com. Their time tracker lets me do a quick single click switch between projects so I always have a log of where my time is spent. It has become a really integral part of my time and task tracking tool set. See the review below for more detail. – Lundie


Product:
Yast.com Time Tracker

Pros:

  • Free for a single user
  • Start/Stop buttons for live activity switching
  • Easy adjustment of the timeline
  • Notes field to track details
  • Mobile app for when you’re not at your computer
  • Can set up a company account to share (and aggregate) projects with other users
  • Very responsive to users via social media (See my blog post on our Internet Presence Marketing blog for more details).

Cons:

  • I personally don’t have any cons, other than the part of me that wants everything free!
  • There have been a few complaints about the Android app not working on some phones, but I personally have had no problems

Pricing (as of 12/5/11):

Yast Personal is Free, €4 (~$5.40) per month for Yast Business, which includes project sharing, call tracking to projects and several other features. See their site for more detail.

Bottom Line:

Yast.com is one of the best Time Tracker providers out there. It allows you to get started right away for free, and walks you easily through an upgrade if you find you have need of their additional features.

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(cross posted from Social Beth, ‘Media of the Social Kind’ Blog)

I thought I heard a while back that fb was done with ‘Places’…. I must have heard wrong because today I saw an amazing site when I logged into one of my facebook pages!

Facebook Deals

YUP! Deals…. beta. Mark Zuckerburg noted at this years F8 Developers conference that, “The last 5years have been about signing people up and getting them connected with each other. The next 5 years, the next Era is going to be about apps.” (That is a rough quote. You can see his keynote here)

Select businesses can use their CLAIMED places page (let me know if you don’t know how to claim your places page) to offer deals to individual clients, groups, loyal clients or to donate to charities. This is pretty big news. I have been looking at Foursquare a lot more lately, for some of my clients, because I wanted to help them better get the word out about their locations and specials they are offering. BUT…. with an already huge established netword / database – Facebook takes the cake on this one!

At the beginning of the F8 this year (is it every year?) Zuckerberg (parodied by SNL’s Andy Samberg) came out singing “All I do is win” and then said “We’re gonna change the Universe!” Facebook is one step closer, for sure.

Facebook is littered with posts about the new Facebook not looking very different.  Chances are they (you?) don’t have the NEWnew Facebook.  Facebook started rolling out updates a couple weeks ago, but the new “Timeline” version of Facebook is ‘coming soon’ for most of us.

If you are anxious to get it, like me – or just need to prepare yourself for the big horrible newness of it all- you can go to Facebook Timeline to preview what the NEW new facebook will have to offer you.

 

I think this will be an especially good way for businesses to tell their story in a way that people can relate to and engage on a ‘personal’ level.

More on Facebook for Business Pages as information becomes available… stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

 

SugarCRM claimed the following four awards in CRMMagazine‘s 10th Annual CRM Market Leaders’ Awards programs:

  • Winner – Open Source CRM
  • Leader – Midmarket Suite CRM
  • Leader – Small-Business Suite CRM
  • One to Watch – Sales Force Automation

Vendors were evaluated in the areas of depth of functionality, price, company direction, and customer satisfaction. Here’s what leading industry analysts had to say about the wins:

Michael Fauscette, group vice president for software business solutions at IDC, said, “Anytime you talk about open-source CRM, Sugar comes up; they’re by far the best known and by far the largest.”

Denis Pombriant, CEO at Beagle Research Group, LLC, referred to SugarCRM as an “out-of-the-box thinker,”complimenting the company’s “continually improving… solution set.”

The full article can be found online at destinationcrm.com.

It’s not just for business! You may be familiar with shared calendars at work – or maybe you aren’t? (Sharing calendars can be revolutionary to the way you do business.  Seeing everyone’s “Busy / Free” schedule or details of their day – depending on how they have chosen to share – will streamline scheduling in a way you could only have hoped for!)

But how are we using Google Calendar for our personal lives and small businesses?

Color coding is the key!

Small Business:

One personal trainer / group fitness instructor / massage therapist uses a different calendar for each aspect of his job, as well as his personal life.  The colors help him easily see what kind of appointment is next and an email at the beginning of the day with the day’s line up helps him gear up appropriately.  Communication with clients via each calendar also helps them know what they are on the schedule for.

scheduling Google Calendar

Dark Blue is personal, green – massage clients, brown  – personal training clients, peach – group fitness classes, etc… He sees his personal life and how each type of appointment integrates with the rest of his life.

(Next step: Use “youcanbook.me” along with Google Calendars to have your clients book their own appointments!)

Family

  • 1 calendar for each family member.
  • Family calendar overrides all personal calendars (auto accept invitations from “Family”
  • See game schedules, school plays, “invite” other family members to attend is a great way to put items on their personal agenda once they accept.

Cleaning business:

  • Invite freelance cleaning professionals to a job via the calendar with a description of the job in the description field.
  • The first to respond via the “accept” button gets the job.
  • Or share free / busy times on personal calendars for easy booking

Gym Schedule postings:

  • Each type of class has its own calendar.
  • The description of the class is within the description field.
  • Calendars are aggregated to be public facing via Google sites (make the page public and link to it if you aren’t using sites for your website)
  • Hover over classes to see what it is!

Kung Fu gym calendar

I hope this real world practical look at calendars helps you! My bet is you will soon be using Google Calendar in ways we never dreamed of!

*PS. With offline for Google Calendar, you can have access to your calendar events when you’re not connected to the internet.

It’s pretty nifty to be able to get all your business done online, right?  I mean, anything from anywhere.  Google has the hookup for businesses all over the world.  Docs, Calendar, Check out, Blogspot, Voice….(I am getting bored just thinking about typing ALL the business services Google provides.)

EXCEPT WHEN YOU CAN’T GET ON LINE. ugh.

Well there’s hope with offline access.  I seem to remember Chrome having offline options before – but then they went away.  I presume to usher in this awesomeness: Read post from Google about “Using Gmail, Calendar and Docs without an internet connection

by Beth Kolar (cross posted from RemoteLink.com)

So why is it you get something new?  Isn’t it usually because the NEW thing will work better than the old thing?

I mean, it’s different if it’s a pair of jeans you are just replacing – you aren’t looking for a more innovative zipper – you just want to cover your lower half while looking as ‘hip’ as possible.

But in the tech world, we replace the old for entirely other reasons.  We want new technology because it answers an unmet need. Otherwise, we would just ‘upgrade’ what we have, right?

We come across this with clients switching from spreadsheets to CRM or from locally hosted systems / programs to Cloud Computing.  They sign up for ‘new technology’ but then, momentarily, their minds slip back into the old way of doing things and they ask “Why doesn’t my new system do _____, like the old one?”  And we always have to ask, “Didn’t you come to us because you wanted something better than your old system?”

Better always equals different.

Cloud computing ushers in the world of hyper-collaboration, that even being in the same room can’t provide.  Working on a doc simultaneously is nearly impossible outside of cloud computing – or at least it would be VERY irritating, fighting to highlight the same word for different reasons at the same time as your collaborator.  Wouldn’t you agree?  BUT, formatting that same doc kinda stinks (if we are talking Google Docs, for example.) It’s not MS Word, Publisher, or InDesign.  It’s different and it’s better, because you wanted to get more done, faster and as a team.

Different, even of the better sort, is always a trade off.  Granted, you can still use InDesign, MS Word or Publisher… – but why not hammer out the wording and details in a shared environment first?  Why not give all the decision makers a chance to weigh in according to their schedules with a way to keep track of revisions and input? Then spiffy it up… and upload THAT doc for storage and reference later!

CRM is probably the most complex cloud computing system we deal with. Clients have their own processes, built around their old tools and honestly, it can be scary to slow down for a bit in order to learn the new, better way. And then, once things are in place you wonder, “Now HOW does this work again?  I used to just click on the header column and it would resort my list to find what I needed!”  But with more power, more capabilities (read: better) comes different.

So better is different.  Do not throw away better for the same thing you already don’t like, just because you are beholden to a particular system.  Be sure to get training with your new system. And be sure to get something configurable, so that systems can be built around the best practices you have only been able to dream about …until now.

In case you missed @stevebaileySEO Tweets on the Google + button this past week, here they are:

  • Google +1; May tend to favor entrenched sites over new sites unless they go viral. Having presence equals clicks.
  • Google +1; I am fairly talented in using search. I don’t really want my results skewed by people who may not have dug as deep.
  • Google +1; We don’t know how much of an impact +1 has on search rankings yet, it’s pretty safe to assume Google will take it into account.
  • Google +1 Button. So it’s a run on Facebook’s Like Button. However Facebook is social, and search really isn’t most of the time. +/-
  • Google +1 Button. Most SEOs are wondering how Google plans to keep farms of bad SEO people in Asia for hire from clicking the +1 Button??
Following Steve is a bit like Easter Egg hunting.  You don’t see Easter Eggs everywhere (which means he is careful about not posting too often), but when he does post, sometimes it’s a flurry of knowledge and you feel like you hit the jackpot of hiding places!  Thanks, Steve, for recapping some of your Twitterstorms!  We look forward to more recaps!
If you’d like to enjoy Steve’s tweets, tips and thoughts on SEO you can follow him on Twitter at @stevebaileySEO or at his http://www.stevebaileyseo.com/ blog and be sure to say hi while you are there… just click “comment”.

Some things you want to come back…others you don’t.  You can’t always control what you DON’T want to come back. But with Boomerang you can now control what you DO want to come back.

Like emails you are waiting on for a response (we use Google mail for our mail provider).  I have, too many times to recount, sent an email… considered it “done”, “off my list” and never thought another thing about it.  Until a week later when I realize that I should have heard back from “important client” and never did.  And now I also have not followed up. ugh.

Boomerang let’s me schedule emails to be sent later AND that very same email to be emailed BACK to my inbox, if there is no response to it within my chosen time frame.  Simple. ahhhh.

RemoteLink can help you make your move to the Cloud efficient and effective.  (Google Apps for Business, Magento eCommerce, SugarCRM and other SaaS solutions provider)

Hey there! Just wanted to give a heads up to watch for a new app coming soon! It’s called the “People Widget”. The People Widget appears in Gmail, alongside email conversations. It will show previous email conversations, shared documents, all with that contact, and calender events! This widget makes it easier to find relative history between you and your contact. We all know how relevant information can enhance work efficiency, sales closings as well as personalized customer care. The People Widget can also be used to easily set up group chat and schedule events with contacts in your email. We hope you are excited to test this app. We are!

Check it out here: http://gmailblog.blogspot.com/2011/05/introducing-people-widget.html