Every year, there is a ton of new software meant to entice those of us in the Virtual Support arena.  Some are just shiny new objects, but some are truly transitional for our businesses. Instead of telling you which one is best, I am going to share a few of my favorites to get you started:

  1. Time Tracking

    Many of us use time tracking software to ensure proper invoicing of our clients. Whether you have package rates or charge hourly, knowing how long tasks will take, or have taken, is a fundamental part of charging what you are worth. Some of my favorites are:

    • Time Doctor – timedoctor.com
    • Harvest Time Tracker – getharvest.com
    • Toggl – toggl.com
  1. CRM

    Customer relationship management is a necessary evil. It’s more than just an address book, it can be used as a window into your customer, their habits, their annual retention rates, and how many interactions you have with a customer from prospect to signed contract. The trick here is not spending more on your CRM than your business can support or getting one more robust that you really need at the time.

    You want to consider how all-inclusive a package you need.  Do you want your software to manage communications? Do you want to be able to track email opens? Do you want invoicing and project management?  These are things you can find helpful.

    • Hubspot – hubspot.com
    • Zendesk – Zendesk.com
    • Honeybook – honeybook.com
    • Dubsado – dubsado.com
  1. Scheduling

    Am I the only one that hates making phone calls or back and forth emails to get an appointment on the books? That’s so old school. Besides, making it easy for your clients to book with you, is crazy good for business.  I always suggest using a scheduler that links directly to your calendar showing your free and busy times. I also recommend having different appointment types, so that you know exactly what you will need to be prepared for. Make sure that you can provide clients with a quick link to book, as well as embedding it onto your website. My favs are:

    • Meetingbird – meetingbird.com
    • Calendly – Calendly.com
    • Acuity – Acuity.com
  1. Instant Messaging

Client and team communication should be easy, quick, and readily accessible.  There I one other thing – it should be easily actionable. In other words, text messaging is awesome but easy to forget adding to your project management system. They’re making sure that all your systems can work together.

  • Slack – slack.com
  • Google Chat – chat.google.com
  1. Project Management

Staying on top of tasks while maintaining transparency with your clients creates a great environment for everyone. Your project management system should allow you to create a private workspace for each client so that only they and you can see their work.  Your system may encompass all or some of the other items we’ve discussed. Some things you will want to look for – does it allow for custom fields, dependencies, different views (lists, boards, Gantt charts). The most important feature of your system … will you use it?

  • Asana – asana.com
  • ClickUp – ClickUp.com
  • Teamwork – teamwork.com

There are free or affordable options for all the above. Cost is an important factor in your choice, so don’t feel obligated to spend more than you can afford, and never underestimate the power of pen and paper to help you plan and decide what will work best for you and your business.

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Dionne ThomasDionne Thomas is IVAA’s Membership Director and Founder of The Zeva Group.
Learn more about Dionne at zevagroup.com