SaaS is a cloud technology that allows you to use software online without installing it on your computer. SaaS stands for “Software as a Service”.
Tips on Managing a Remote Team with SaaS Solutions
Basically, it’s like renting a house – you rent an apartment with furniture, appliances (and even dishes) for any period of time. You live there, and the owner handles all the maintenance and repairs.
Most SaaS platforms provide data storage services (projects, information, emails, etc.) along with access to the software solution itself.
Today we’re going to share a few tips and software solutions to help you manage your remote team during the pandemic. But first – the basics. Read on!
Software by Subscription
SaaS companies offer a subscription-based service with different plans, the cost of which increases along with the number of available tools and cloud storage size.
Many platforms allow you to “build” your custom plan and pay only for the services you really need. Other services offer a number of plans for different business tasks and needs.
Plus, you don’t have to pay for all of the features at once, which is very convenient. In addition, almost all services have a trial or demo period with reduced functions to get acquainted with the product.
SaaS products have been around for a long time. Email services represent the first examples of this model. Today the SaaS model is used by:
- Text, graphic, and video editors/designers (GoogleDocs, Figma, Canva, Adobe, etc.);
- Social networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.);
- Video and audio hosting sites (YouTube, SoundCloud, etc.);
- CRM systems (Salesforce, ZohoCRM, AmoCRM, etc.);
- E-commerce systems (BigCommerce, Shopify, etc.);
- Website builders (WiX, Volutions, Weebly, uCoz, etc.);
- Security solutions (Astra, Sucuri, Malcare, etc.)
- Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems (1C:ERP, SAP Business One, etc.).
There are whole suites of SaaS services – thus, Google has Gmail, document editors, video apps, Internet marketing tools, information storage drives, etc.
With that said, nobody has to sit in the office all day to work efficiently. Convenient tools can help you communicate with your team, set tasks, and see results.
Why Choose SaaS Software?
The benefits of using SaaS software for business are as follows:
- High download speed of services. Plus, you get it right from the start, which means you don’t have to fine-tune the technical or programming part. Once you order the service, you will immediately get a complete server;
- Mobility. Perhaps, this is one of the main advantages, because you can always use SaaS solutions on the go, provided you have the connection. Many apps have a mobile version, so they will be accessible from a smartphone or tablet. Thus, you can start doing something in your office, then take a cab to a meeting, and continue working from your phone;
- Reduced load on your devices. The service provider will handle everything;
- Cost-saving. If you have a small company, there’s no need to create a separate infrastructure for emails – SaaS software solutions have your back covered. Subscribing to software costs much less than buying a license. Plus, there’s no need to use your hard disk’s storage memory – a browser is quite enough;
- Collaboration. Many SaaS services allow several executors to work on the same project simultaneously;
- Free trials. You can test your chosen solution without any initial investments. This will allow you to evaluate all the pros/cons and customize your list of necessary services;
- Constant support. You will not need to update the tools you use, clean or upgrade your equipment, etc.;
- Ease of use and business process organization to easily manage and control your remote employees’ work. In addition, they also typically have intuitive interfaces;
- Regular updates. Cloud services are constantly updated by a team of specialists with no effort on your part as a user.
- Low probability of data loss due to technical problems. All data in the cloud are automatically backed up, so if necessary, it can be restored. Only the risk of attacks on databases may cause certain doubts, but providers do their best to prevent such situations. It is not a problem if your computer’s down or there’s a blackout. In SaaS, data is saved immediately as it’s entered. SaaS services are constantly working on customer data security by implementing new security features.
Many companies have moved their employees to remote locations. This format reduces expenses on facilities and equipment, makes it possible to hire experts with outstanding resumes from any part of the world, without wasting time on getting to the office, and increases productivity.
Below is a list of useful tips and handy SaaS software solutions you might want to consider when managing your remote team. We’ve separated them into several categories for your convenience. Read on to find the ones that fit your remote team and business goals.
Tips on Remote Team Management
Communication and trust are the cornerstones of running a remote business. The main and priority task is to create a convenient and easy system of communication within the team. The emphasis here is on simplicity and convenience.
When working remotely, teams need a convenient tool for unrestricted communication with each other. Email is not always an option so you should choose a means of communication for faster response time.
One of the main reasons why remote teams don’t succeed is because they don’t compensate for the distance. They tend to forget about other team members, living quietly in their own worlds, and collaborating exactly as much as they have to.
In a virtual environment, you need to create opportunities among team members for direct, formal, and informal communication. Some effective options are online chat rooms (e.g., Slack, Telegram, WhatsApp, or Skype), project management platforms (e.g., Basecamp), and video conferencing (e.g., Google Meet).
Keep your chat live but in control
It’s important to keep it “live” but not distracting. It’s enough to have constant communication and discuss some important issues for everyone to feel part of the team. The main thing is to keep it balanced.
You can also create an off-topic chat for the whole company which is not directly connected with work. This creates a “chillout zone” where employees can chat about whatever they want.
There can be a sense of loneliness when you work remotely from home, and a chat room helps maintain a sense of social connection.
Distractions and isolation can grow into a serious problem, so it’s important to make sure your team is both happy and productive when working from home.
Stay on the lookout
Make sure you notice any signs of distress among your employees. Show them your care and attention, and try to respond to their requests ASAP.
Depending on your needs, you should choose the most appropriate type of communication for your remote team:
- Telegram or Slack is great for quick instant messaging and creating group chats;
- You can replace most email communications with a high-quality project management system;
- Phone calls or video chats – some types of communication should only be handled by phone. Any type of emotional issue, e.g. performance-related issues, should be handled via phone calls. A video chat would be even better since it provides more visual clues as to what is going on with the person;
- Short videos. You can use a webcam to create a short video with yourself on Youtube or use screen-capture tools such as OBS Studio or GoToMeeting.
- Virtual Numbers – CallHippo is a very handy call center software if you are looking for a virtual number.
Set clear expectations
Stay clear to your employees and don’t force them to work faster. Everyone has their own pace. Better suggest your list of convenient tools to make their remote work more comfortable.
This also partly depends on each of your employees’ personality type and experience.
- Provide clear instructions on how to work in a team and assign responsibilities to your employees. Keep in mind that remote workers are no longer able to learn from you as they could in the office. So when hiring, make sure you have a training program (video courses, tips, instructions, how-tos, guides, etc.) that will familiarize newcomers with your company and how all your daily processes work. Record as much as you can to help employees adapt and play an integral role in your company;
- Set a clear schedule with certain work hours and coffee/smoke breaks;
- Set adequate goals, deadlines (e.g., via RescueTime), and KPIs. Keep your team members informed about their performance level (e.g., via Trello or Monday). They have to know how good they are. Otherwise use direct messages to avoid public reprimands since this will have a negative impact on the company’s performance;
- Create a real sense of team spirit. In a remote job, it may take extra effort to maintain a sense of commitment to your team. Employees need to know they are not only contributing to their team’s goal but that they are also valuable to the company’s success.
Use screen-sharing software tools
How do you explain something visually on your desktop screen? YouTube videos or a screen capture tool (e.g., TechSmith Capture, ex. Jing) can be a great solution.
Moreover, you can simply create a screenshot of your desktop, add arrows, shortcuts, and annotations using tools like the Screenshot Maker app or record a video in Screenrec or CloudApp. Alternatively, you can quickly create a desktop screen video and share it with other team members via YouTube.
Moreover, there are tools that will give you visual access to your desktop so that the other person can see exactly what you’re doing. Some of these tools even allow you to remotely control another computer.
Many of these tools are free for small group use. These include TeamViewer and Join.me. Skype also has a screen-sharing function but without the ability to remotely control another computer.
Document and Spreadsheet Collaboration
If you have a document that is edited by many people, Google Drive is the best option. If you just need to share an XLS document without any joint editing, you can place it in a shared Dropbox folder.
Many project management platforms also have file sharing and collaboration features, and tools such as statements of work, so this is another alternative for document collaboration.
Project management systems (e.g. Teamwork, Zoho Projects, or LiquidPlanner) are useful since they help you organize documents and conversations into projects, which helps you come back to them later.
Such programs also help with organizing and storing common files. If you run your business solely from email, it can quickly become unmanageable and turn into a mess.
Productivity and organization
How do managers know if their remote employees are really productive? These days, most remote teams evaluate their employees based on the number of tasks completed and whether they achieve their goals, not on the number of hours spent. However, it can still be challenging to track everyone’s performance.
If your employees’ productivity is declining, time-tracking tools like Toggl, Tick, and Timesheets can be used to monitor projects or simply to estimate how long it actually takes to make improvements.
Оrganization is key for teams working remotely
The best option is to set up a cloud-based project management tool so that everyone can access the files and information they need at any time. These tools also offer ways to organize projects between different departments and set urgent reminders.
Some of the most popular project management tools for remote teams include Trello and Basecamp. Google Drive, Google Docs, Google Spreadsheets, and DropBox will help you with document/file sharing and management.
Pay your remote team well
Many people want to work remotely, and many professionals are willing to get paid less for the opportunity to work from home. While it’s true that you may find people willing to work for less money, if you pay your employees well, you will know that your team will work well and stay with you for long.
Test your new employees
You don’t have to hire someone full-time right away. You can offer them a short-term job, i.e. work with them on a small project, and upon completion, if you’re both happy, move on to full-time work.
Take a look at their home environment. Do they have a quiet and peaceful place to work? Do they have kids that can distract them at home? Do they live alone and how likely are they to be distracted by their friends?
Top SaaS Solutions for Remote Teams
AmoCRM https://www.amocrm.com/ is an easy-to-use cloud service with a nice-looking interface and a set of the most useful basic features. A nicely implemented sales funnel, chat for employees, an open API, and additional extensions are at your service.
The system shows sales efficiency statistics in a clear form – you can easily monitor your team’s performance and control the results.
Zoho CRM is a feature-rich system that gives insight into sales, marketing, and provides impeccable customer support. Your data is stored in a secure vault as in a solid bank. Zoho CRM currently has over 250,000 users and is growing.
The service provides tools to manage the entire sales, marketing, customer support, and inventory management processes via a single business system. Keep track of all your sales to further automate processes and close more deals in less time.
Moreover, you can leverage your existing customer data for future pre-sales and cross-sales.
CentralStationCRM offers seamless relationship management for small and medium-sized businesses. With this system, teams can achieve great goals.
It’s easy to use, provides transparency in terms of your colleagues’ tasks, organizes your contacts, provides the necessary automation, and is accessible 24/7 from any device.
You can expect intuitive design, clear functions, and a fast-to-learn CRM. CRM makes your analytics clear, understandable, and fast. With a single click, you can see your daily, weekly, or 8-month and 4-day results. No installation needed.
Trello is the simplest service for work, which is suitable for small teams and individual employees. The service has free access to the necessary functionality for tasks that do not require large volumes of files (you can use online file storage services for this).
Trello uses the Kanban workflow management method, where tasks are categorized and grouped according to various statuses, e.g. “Negotiation Phase,” “In Progress,” “Done,” and so on.
Wrike is an online corporate collaboration and project management service. It allows you to plan projects, prioritize tasks, track schedules, and interact with your team. Wrike is perfect for team building, connection to familiar collaboration services, and email integration.
The service provides an online environment for working interactions in both local and distributed teams. Wrike also apps for iOS and Android. The main pros are its attention to security, app availability, and a free version.
Basecamp is an online project collaboration service that allows you to share documents, lead team discussions, create to-do sheets, and add comments to tasks, as well as send and receive emails. It’s a modern tool for online project management and team collaboration.
Moreover, in the process of developing and using Basecamp, the most popular framework – Ruby on Rails – was created.
Basecamp’s interface is extremely easy and stable to work with. You can integrate with Google Docs, which is very convenient. There are tasks, discussions, a calendar, and various documents: profiles, files, wiki documents, project logs, etc.
Basecamp makes it easy to efficiently organize your work with clients or partners. You also have mobile access.
Microsoft Teams is a corporate platform that combines chat, meetings, notes, and attachments in a workspace. It was developed by Microsoft as a competitor of the popular corporate solution, Slack.
The corporate communication solution from Microsoft is also worth considering because of the tightly integrated services, e.g. SharePoint, Skype, Word, Power BI, Planner, and OneNote.
The main features of the service are:
- Ability to use Microsoft Teams for free in teams of up to 300 people.
- Unlimited number of chat messages and Search function;
- Built-in audio and video calls for individual, group, and team meetings;
- 10 GB of shared storage, plus an additional 2GB/user;
- Integration with other Microsoft products, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote;
- Integration with 140 third-party services and apps, including Adobe, Evernote, and Trello;
- Ability to communicate and interact with anyone outside of your team.
Google Meet allows you to quickly set up a video meeting. To start a video conference, you need to sign in to your Google account or create one. You can use any modern browser – no need to download anything.
However, to participate from mobile devices you need to install a mobile app. You can show your screen, program window, browser tab, or whiteboard. However, there’s no ability to record a meeting.
GoToMeeting is an online web conferencing service that lets you set up meetings for up to 25 participants to share any application from an administrator’s computer in real-time.
The service offers several different service plans that allow for video conferencing that can accommodate from 150 to 32,000 users. Of these, up to 25 can be in the frame at the same time. For larger meetings, the organizer can choose who is on camera at any given time.
The interface, both in the web version and in the desktop application, makes video conferencing easy. All buttons and links are clearly labeled, making it easy to plan, organize, join, and administer meetings. It’s not hard to get used to this system.
GoToMeeting has almost every video conferencing tool a small business needs for a seamless meeting, such as the ability to share your screen, record meetings, and do automatic transcript transcripts.
Whereby is an online service that provides the ability to organize video conferences without downloading a special application or software?
Using Whereby saves time and storage memory of your devices. It’s all easy here – you need to create an account, and choose a room where the conference will take place, invite guests by sending a special link, and start communicating!
- No registration or downloads;
- Group video calls with up to 50 people;
- Screen sharing ability;
- Access from any device;
- Custom branding;
- Drag-and-drop feature.
Whereby serves the small and medium-sized business market in a variety of industries, including IT, Sales, Marketing, Education, Recruiting, Financial. It’s simply perfect for the following purposes:
- Business meeting;
- Training sessions;
- Remote education;
- Informal communication;
- Coaching, etc.
Communication and Collaboration
TeamViewer is a leading remote computer access app and a must-have for remote IT departments. At times when you need to help employees install or configure software, it’s simply indispensable.
Being TeamViewer’s main competitor, Anydesk stands out first and foremost because it’s 7 times faster. Available for installation on Linux, Windows, iOS, and FreeBSD.
Dropbox Business is an application that allows remote teams to organize a shared file system and share their documents in the cloud. It’s easy to use, so you can focus on what’s important instead of wasting time looking for the right cloud for documents.
As the name implies, Notion is a note-taking app. It helps creative teams who need to write down all the ideas. Such a “vault” of notes can be suitable both for small and large businesses, i.e. you can structure your notes by projects, subjects, folders, etc.
Lucidchart is an application for building charts and dashboards. The solution allows you to create and publish professional flowcharts that will be useful at any stage of work – from brainstorming to project management. Google Docs integration is also available.
You can use ScreenRec to send instant video messages and screenshots which is great for collaboration, especially when working remotely. It’s better than email and faster than arranging a meeting because you can show your desktop instantly.
ScreenRec allows you to record your screen, microphone, web camera, and even system sound. You get a private shareable link as soon as you’re done capturing.
Evernote Business connects the team, i.e. its documents, calendars, notes, etc. Share and edit files from any device. You can even do it offline.
One of the best task managers for small and medium-sized businesses. There’s process gamification, task prioritization with projects, and reminders.
By the way, this tool is great for digital agencies – you can assign performers in a single click.
Zapier offers automation of routine processes. You can expect hundreds of integrations, a 14-day free trial, and a discreet guide between platforms.
Save your time for more important things.
Process Street is no-code workflow software. This cloud-based solution allows teams like Salesforce, Drift, and Envoy to manage their processes and playbooks by turning their recurring tasks into actionable checklists and automated workflows.
This makes collaborating with team members, getting work done, and focusing on the tasks that matter, easy.
Another award-winning task-management app. Cleaner than Tudoist and is suitable for teams of all sizes.
Not the most obvious candidate to join the list, Brain.fm is literally music for the brain. It’s a great way to relax after a hard day’s work or turn it on in the background while that day is still going.
Slack is a great tool for corporate communication. Channels, tracks, reactions, a huge number of integrations – you’ll find it all here.
Telegram is suitable for corporate communication in small businesses and start-ups. By the way, it has recently added folders https://telegram.org/blog/folders.
Originally a chat room for gamers but also great as a corporate messenger. Discord can be an alternative to Slack. Discord’s main feature is virtual meeting rooms. It is so comfortable to use Discord for multiple purposes and there are opportunities to buy cheap Discord members, so it becomes easier to increase the audience as well.
Doodle allows professionals to focus on work rather than routine tasks like time tracking or scheduling.
Calendly is a great app for in-house scheduling. Often used by tech support for SaaS products or in Online Education.
Toggle is one of the best time-tracking apps – it has projects, labels, notes, and so much more. You create different teams and add a “price” per hour. All in all, it’s a perfect app for a freelancer, even though it suits companies of all sizes. The charts here end up being not only clear but also attractive to study.
SaaS services make our lives easier. Whatever you and your remote team are into there, you can surely try a few solutions from our list to improve your team’s overall performance and add some focus, friendly atmosphere, and motivation at work.
Of course, none of the above-mentioned cloud tools are useful without a proper management strategy. So make sure you have one before you introduce new tools to your team.
It’s never going to be the same again. The pandemic has set new rules and virtually reformatted our lives.
Once it all began, entire industries moved to the cloud – IT, Design, Journalism, Marketing, and other areas, where the constant presence in the office is not required.
However, not everyone can afford to completely switch to SaaS technologies. For example, local software is still needed for video editing or music creation – there’s no powerful enough cloud service for the purpose yet. Another problem is the fear of data loss when an account is hacked.
Therefore, experts predict that in the foreseeable future SaaS platforms and physical media will work in tandem. Thus, we will be able to choose when it’s more convenient to use local software or subscription-based programs.