I read a post by Coyier outlining the web services he pays for accompanied by a neat little table outlining his monthly expenses for each. I wanted to respond to that post outlining the services we subscribe to for comparison.
For a small company, QBO is a huge help. We run all our accounting, invoicing, payroll, and tax payments through this service and it’s one of the most inexpensive services we pay for. My favorite part is the fact that you just have to input all your pertinent information and QBO will provide you with all the tax forms you need to file as well as prepare all your estimated tax payments for you. You simply click a button or two to run payroll and pay your taxes. Pretty sweet for a small company.
Dropbox is a rather important tool for a virtual company. Our team is distributed across the country, so using tools that sync our team up is a no-brainer. Dropbox for teams offers a crapton of storage (like 1000GB) and allows our team to access important, non-repository-based files.
Harvest is an indispensable tool for us. It allows us to track our time spent on projects and keep our finger on the pulse of our budgets for clients and internal projects alike.
Github is a pretty obvious one. We have a ton of repos and I’m not sure why they only charge us $22/mo. It feels like I’m stealing value from this awesome company. Maybe it’s due to the fact that one of our employees bribes one of Github’s employees with swedish fish. Who knows?
Where Coyier uses Beanstalk for deployment, we use DeployHQ. It’s very similar to Capistrano, but your deployment configuration data is all hosted with DeployHQ. One of the awesome integration features we take advantage of is using deployment hooks with Github, allowing us to deploy code to production any time we push code to the master branch in one of our repositories.
Even if one of our non-technical team members needs to perform a deployment or rollback, there’s a nice web interface that makes it easy for anyone to use. I highly recommend.
If you haven’t heard about Treehouse, it’s an awesome way to learn new stuff. Awesome video training mixed with interactive quizzes and real-life problem solving. I also love that you can compete with the rest of your company by earning badges and pumping up your street cred.
Campfire is one of the most critical tools for our virtual company. It’s what ties our communication together. Within Campfire, we have deployed hubot (which we named Levo after our UpThemes mascot) to offer some automated tools and services inside our company chat room. We have scripts that provide information for certain clients and servers as well as scripts that post inside joke memes that we’ve created over the years.
Here are a few (notice they’re all of @imbradmiller, not sure why but he’s great meme fodder):
We use Basecamp mainly for interaction with clients and contractors. For internal projects, we typically focus our conversation around Issues in Github, but for clients, they’re not always using git and sometimes we’re working on design-only projects, so Basecamp makes a lot of sense in those cases. The ability to loop in someone via email even if they’re not a registered Basecamp user is a nice feature and the real-time communication tools are getting better and better.
We started using BrowserStack back when it was pretty new and put it on the shelf because they didn’t offer VPN support that we could use. Now, that’s all changed so we’re back on board and subscribed to the small team plan for 5 users.
We use Gotomeeting as a reliable videoconferencing tool (over Skype) because we can reliably pull in meeting attendees without worrying about crashes or poor quality video/audio. It’s been such a great tool that even our clients have asked if they can use our meeting rooms for their internal meetings! We love that, because it means A. our clients are comfortable enough with us to ask us for something like that and B. they see the reliability and usefulness of the meeting tools we use with them every day.
When it comes to hiring, nobody wants to manage or enter in applicant information from hundreds of emails that may or may not have a Word doc résumé attached to them. The Resumator has been particularly useful for us because we can review applicants, update their status quickly, track any communication with applicants, and easily see a snapshot of the applicants that we think may be a good fit for an open position. Not to mention we get applicants from other job sites all the time even though we may not have time to actively promote each opening via social media.
OK, so this is a pretty sweet deal for us. We love secure hosting and require a PCI-compliant host for UpThemes because we process credit card payments securely on our website. Firehost approached me a few years ago about becoming a sponsored hosting client and since then, I’ve never looked back. In fact, I’ve been so satisfied with Firehost that I moved every website I own over to them. Their support is second to none and their products are always up-to-date with security standards and industry best practices. Love it.
As mentioned above, we process credit card payments through UpThemes.com and our payment gateway of choice is Authorize.net. Yes, we know, there are some really innovate companies in this space and Authorize.net isn’t exactly the most progressive one. For us, we love the fact that they’re widely known and used and have many years experience over other payment gateways. Add in the fact that they integrate with almost every piece of e-commerce software ever made, and it makes it super easy for us to pick them again and again.
Another one of those no-brainers, I said goodbye to paying $400+ for a new copy of Photoshop every couple years because Creative Cloud gives me access to every major Adobe application any time I want. They also offer a cloud hosted file server that allows you to share your work with co-workers and clients (though I personally prefer Shipment).
We send out lots of emails. At least 13,000 per month. That means we need a reliable third-party email service that has a track record of not sending spammy emails out and great tools for tracking conversions. Campaign Monitor is one of the best in the business and we’ve been extremely happy with them to date. In fact, they even dropped their prices recently to be competitive with the Mailchimps of the world.
OK, so this one is sorta lame, but we have lawyers, medical offices, and accountants that like things faxed to them, so we use MyFax by Protus for this. It’s a small price to pay for being hip with the technology of the 90s.
The Total Bill
In total, we pay a $927.23/mo. for our suite of web tools and services. It may seem like a lot to some, but for a virtual company with an e-commerce presence, it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the value it provides us.