Web Work 101: 10 Apps You Can’t Do Without — Redux


Last March, I wrote a piece about the 10 apps a web worker can’t do without. A year later, and the app landscape has shifted significantly, so here’s an updated list of what I consider to be the best solutions for our critical tasks in 2010.


1. Invoice management

Freshbooks is still an excellent invoicing service, but there are some new and some improved invoicing apps in this space, such as:

You can also track expenses with:

And add functionality to your online invoicing:

Also check out Celine’s piece on managing your finances online. If you are looking for solutions for creating and managing contracts, check out Celine’s roundup of contract resources. You may also want to check out Outright, a bookkeeping and tax prep tool that Scott reviewed.

2. Time tracking

Need to get a handle on how much time you’ve spent on a particular project or task? There are apps for that — some standalone, some that integrate with your invoicing systems, and some like Where is My Time that help you to analyze how the time flew by and how productive you were during that time. Here are some others:

And in the time-, cash- and distance-tracking category, take a peek at 1DayLater (see our review here).

3. Social CRM

Here are some startups that provide useful Social CRM products:

For quick contact information exchange, I love the Poken social business card and am so disappointed that they aren’t taking off like I think they should. I wear my cute skull Poken at every conference I go to but have yet to get “poked” unless Poken is a conference sponsor.

I’m also keen on Bump for the iPhone and Android, and also covered some other contact sharing apps in this roundup: DropCard, Rmbrme, BeamMe, ShareCard, SnapDat.

At SXSW, I was given a very impressive demo of relationship management tool Gist (see our review here) that promised a lot, though I have yet to incorporate it into my daily work.

4. RSS Reader

I don’t know about you, but I’m over RSS readers. But to be fair to those who have yet to discover the social firehose, you could go with the ever-popular Google Reader (s goog) and the novelty of Snackr, which puts a little ticker at the bottom of your computer screen for passive, almost subliminal consumption of your feeds.

And here are a few other popular feed readers:

For saving articles to read later, I currently use a combination of Delicious, Instapaper, and “favoriting” tweets containing links on Twitter.


5. Email management Social communications management

I have changed the heading of this section because I find that my communications are no longer mainly taking place through email, and are increasingly moving into my social networks.

While I am trying to move away from Gmail and start using email management tool PostBox again (its attachment management tools make it a compelling option for me), I am also looking out other social communications management systems and apps.

I was panicked to find Threadsy — the intriguing integrated communications client that you could use to see your email, social networks, and Twitter in a single place — under “re-construction” but have signed up to see what is happening with the app.

You might also like to check out a few email productivity add-ons we’ve reviewed, such as Xobni, Rapportive and MailBrowser.

6. Calls, Conferencing and Instant Messaging

Right now, my company has been moving away from Skype. Although we all love the app, it seems to drops our calls almost constantly now. We are moving back to the old-fashioned telephone for calls, while for conferencing we have been using FreeConference.com.

Here are a few phone conferencing and webinar-style conferencing systems that I also use:

Note that I didn’t include WebEx in the list. I am convinced that the company, which once dominated this space, has had a hard time keeping pace with the more nimble startups.

One other phone-related service that my company is trying is eVoice, because we need a virtual PBX system that can accommodate our UK office as well as multiple U.S. locations. Unfortunately,  I don’t have enough experience with it yet to tell you how it is working for us. Stay tuned.

Work Process

7. Project management

My company first used Basecamp for project management before switching to 5pm. Today, I’m seriously checking out glasscubes as it provides project management together with collaborative space. It is much lighter on the project management side — it’s really just a task management  app — but I’m getting a feel for the company’s interesting take on how virtual groups can work better together. More on that soon, too.

Just for giggles and grins, check out my old post about this topic: “Project Management, Collaboration and How Our Brains Work.”

8. Calendars and Schedules

I’m excited about the web-based services that allow me to give out a link to my calendar — or just a portion of my calendar — so  people can get on my schedule. But as my post about a scheduling bungle at SXSW due to system time zone issues, I know that there is still no single tool that “does it all.”

Still, here is a quick rundown of a few tools I’m still using or trying out:

9. Cloud-based collaboration/document sharing

While I still use Google Docs, some fundamental integration issues are making me look elsewhere. As I mentioned earlier, my company is currently experimenting with glasscubes.

Here are a few others:

And I know you’re going to think this is kooky, but the 2.0 version of Spinscape combines mind mapping principles and collaborative communications in a way that is quite compelling to me.

10. File storage/backup/sync

Take a look at SugarSync. It provides backup, file sync and file sharing “on-the-go” on any Mac, PC or mobile device (check out my review here). Here are some other useful options:

A newbie in the “active backup” and file storage space is Soonr, which also has Mac, PC and mobile capabilities.

What are some of the must-have applications you’ve found invaluable in your own web work?

stock.xchng images by johnnyberg, gun, toutouke

Related GigaOM Pro content (sub. req.): Enabling the Web Work Revolution

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