Top 20 Web Based Business Management Apps & Tools

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Running a small business can be an expensive affair. Not only do you need expensive software to keep track of sales; expenses and documentation, but you also need to ensure that you regularly back-up your data and there is also the issue of network security which needs to be addressed.

Web base business management applications and tools offer the perfect solution. You can find money management; time keeping; project management; contact management; CRM applications and so much more, all at a fraction of the cost of traditional software. This article guides you through some of the best in each category.

Financial Management Applications

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Whether you are running the finances of a one man band or a small but growing business, managing your finances is both critically important and immensely boring. Luckily there are some easy ways to manage your cashflow, invoicing, expenses and taxes online.

1. Mint
This online money management system enables you to manage all your financial transactions, including credit cards, banking and investment accounts, centrally and the facility is free to use. It even has budget planning tools and will send you an email or text message if your balance is low, or if you have bills outstanding.

2. Harvest
This web based business management system is great for sole proprietors and small businesses alike. It includes time keeping, estimates and expenses tracking as well as billing and invoicing facilities. It also includes powerful reporting tools and Quickbook exporting functionality.

3. Freshbooks
A web based financial management system, Freshbooks enables you to create estimates, manage time and expenses online, and even generate invoices from timesheets. For peace of mind it offers complete data backups and firewall protection, and is tightly integrated with the best credit card payment processors including PayPal and Authorize.net.

4. LiteAccounting
This easy to use financial management system enables you to send invoices to customers directly from the online system, as well as track customer payments. It includes a search facility so that you can easily view invoices per customer and you can even set up recurring invoices, which is a big time saver.

5. Outright
A secure online bookkeeping system, Outright is great for keeping track of the income and expenses for your business. It enables you to view quarterly profits and even provides tax estimates, which is particularly good for helping to manage cashflow and the allocation of budget. Outright also has a handy feature that displays tax date reminders so that you never miss a payment.

Documentation Management Apps

document-management

Modern businesses are often footloose with home offices and web conferencing tools replacing the cubicle and board room. But staff still need to share and collaborate in order to get things done, a function that can now be done entirely online using tools such as these.

6. Google Docs
This web based documentation sharing facility is offered free by Google. You can upload and edit documents online, or save them to your desktop in many different formats including .doc, .xls and .ppt. Should you require privacy, it is possible to restrict access to the uploaded documentation and to change document ownership. Furthermore, it is easy to see the history of revisions, a feature that is particularly useful when a group of people are working on the same document over a period of time.

7. Backpack
This is another very popular and accomplished web based document sharing tool, which enables you to share documents of many different formats, setup todo lists, notes and even pictures. It even has a shared group calendar and a centrally managed message facility ensuring that everyone gets to read important news.

8. AirSet
AirSet allows you to share documents, contacts and calendars online. It includes several document templates for publishing anything from presentations to newsletters. Contacts are managed centrally ensuring that as soon as a contact is added or updated, the information is immediately shared.

Project Management Tools

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Getting things done is more than just a mantra: it’s what makes the difference between a successful and stagnant business. Choosing a good project management app will save you time, increase productivity and drive profits through increased efficiency. In short, if you are in business then you need good project management.

9. Basecamp
This complete web based project management system enables advanced milestone tracking, todo list allocation and tracking, time tracking and project management reporting. Also included in Basecamp is a file sharing facility, message boards and even a chat facility. This is a perfect tool for companies with staff working remotely.

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10. Wrike
Wrike may be lesser know, but it is nonetheless an easy to use project management system that even allows you to create tasks from emails. Aside from the normal task tracking and time management functionality, Wrike also includes dynamic Gantt charts, task reminders and it has integrated email functionality which automatically emails a staff member as soon as a task has been assigned to them.

11. Project Spaces
Project Spaces is a comprehensive project management tool that also includes a document library for online collaboration and documentation control. It has a centralized calendar for tracking events, a contact management system and you can set up discussion threads to share ideas.

Communication Tools

communication-tools

You’ve got to communicate and be accessible if you want to survive, especially in a challenging market. Go beyond the usual forms of communication and interact with your staff, customers and clients with these tools for improved communication.

12. Meebo
Meebo is an instant messaging service with a difference: it enables group chats and best of all you can chat to anyone even if they normally use a different instant messenger account. Meebo is compatible with AIM, Google Talk, MSN Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, Facebook chat and MySpace IM.

13. Twitter
The latest in online social networking, Twitter is a very popular communication tool accessible from the web and mobile phones. Tweeting is very similar to sending a 140 character text message from your mobile phone, except the messages can be published directly to a blog and read by your followers. Twitter is without doubt on the bleeding edge of communication, opening up new means of sales and lead acquisition.

14. Campfire
The creators of Basecamp and Backpack have also released another online tool called Campfire. This is purely a web based communication tool, enabling businesses to chat to employees and clients online. It can be integrated with Basecamp and is a very secure means of communicating online, which is an extremely potent tool especially when combined with their other collaborative products.

15. Highrise
A comprehensive contact management system, Highrise is web based and enables you to manage your contracts centrally, keep tabs on conversations, send instant message reminders via text or email, as well as post notes and messages to colleagues online.

CRM Applications

crm

Getting new customers is only part of the game. A successful also needs repeat customers, which means fantastic service to back up your product.

16. vTiger
vTiger is an open source CRM and contact management system. This free system features all the customer support functionality you could ever need including raising trouble tickets, a built in knowledge base, customer self service facilities, history tracking, emailing facilities and reporting tools.

17. Mojo Helpdesk
This is a powerful online customer relationship management system which allows you to track customer requests, allocate the requests to staff members and communicate the progress of the request with the customer using an online portal.

18. UserScape HelpSpot
A CRM system that can be hosted online or downloaded onto your own secure, HelpSpot is intuitive and very easy to use. Workflow rules for customer request progression can be maintained, requests can be customised to include fields specific to your requirements and it has a built-in customer self-service portal that helps increase the productivity of your customer relations staff.

Complete Small Business Solutions

What if you would prefer to have everything in one single place, rather than using different tools for different needs? Then try one of these business management suites where everything is available in one single login.

19. Zoho
Zoho offer a comprehensive suite of web based tools and applications catering to the needs of small businesses. From emailing facilities, to online spreadsheets; documentation control to project management tools; invoicing facilities and even a full featured Wiki – Zoho has it all in one central place.

20. WORKetc
If you are looking for a complete suite of applications to run your business, then WORKetc is a great solution. It includes document management, timesheeting, sales management, project management, billing and invoicing, reporting and even customer support tools.

  • Jack

    Thank you for the kind introduction of all the small business apps out there. For a while I was using just MS Office but now I’m leaning more toward trying out an online solution like Google Docs, BackPack, and AirSet.

    So far I’ve tried BackPack and it just doesn’t do enough for me. Google Docs is easy to use but it crashes. I’m currently trying out AirSet. It’s overwhelming with features but I feel that if I spend a day or so to learn AirSet it can really help my business.

    I’m already a fan of their calendar as it allows me to create different work schedules for my employees. I still have a way to go but at least the online app is stable.

  • Don’t forget about WordPress as your CMS and Google Analytics to track traffic and make website adjustments. Your list seems to only cover accounting, PM, CRM and document management. Great start though! Need to get some marketing tools in there.

  • B7

    Great post!

    I have been using Backpack and Basecamp, and they are awesome!

  • Leonid

    Missing the recruitment/hr category:

    * Workday
    * Taleo
    * Jobvite
    * Paychex HRO

  • Thanks for sharing these great tools in your post. This is going to be really useful.

  • Jenny

    Nice list!
    You can also add DeskAway (http://www.deskaway.com) to the list of Project management tools. It is a very nice and simple tool for project management & social collaboration.

  • Ryan,
    Thanks for putting Wrike on your list. Just for the record, we’re working ob Windows Mobile integration right now and soon Wrike will save you even more time. Our blog is the best way to get updates about our tool: http://www.wrike.com/blog

  • Thanks for summing this up in one great article! Another good software is Business-in-a-Box that contains over 1,300+ business and legal document templates. It covers all aspects of a business from business plans, to marketing, consulting, contracting, real estate, accounting, legal, human resources, credit, operations, internet, technology…This gives businesses the freedom to concentrate on the company’s core activities, rather than spending time and money on writing and legal fees.      

  • Hey Drea! I’m super happy that you thought of FreshBooks when creating this list. We integrate with two of your other chosen mentions, as well (Outright and Basecamp)!

    Oh, and hey — how’s the mandolin learning going? My family owns one, but I’ve yet to dive in. Heh.

    Rayanne Langdon — Marketing Coordinator, FreshBooks.com

  • Great list! There are only a few basic apps I am familiar with that I didn’t notice here: google apps as a pendant to zoho (i actually use both) and voo2do for project management (which I like, but only use on-and-off; I also use Progect/PDesk).

    My biggest challenge as a small consultancy owner is finding free or inexpensive apps that give me both on- and offline access, as well as a reasonably easy way to sync through (online -> desktop -> Palm Treo). Works fine for contacts and calendar (I use Airset), but tasks and project management are still a challenge.

    Would be grateful for any tips/hints.

  • Jane Hart at the Center for Learning & Performance Technologies compiles and ranks the top 100 tools for learning and professional development each year, based on a survey of HRD, training, OD, etc. folks. Most are online and many are free: http://c4lpt.co.uk/recommended/top100.html .

    I have also heard that InstantService is a great online service providing commercial chat and email management solutions. http://instantservice.com

  • Ravi

    I have come across many deskaway, liquid planner, comindwork for PM tools.. the above list is very brief I think.

    I liked Deskaway’s features, work analysis reports. Also the pricing is good.
    Liquidplanner was a bit expensive for my needs, so was comindwork.

    In fact I have tried so many Pm apps and it has been a real bummer

  • You mentioned a lot of great tools, I especially like Mint. We’ve come a long way with online apps haven’t we. Another one to the project management section is SantexQ – it’s an online app that is a great alternative to basecamp and also costs less.

  • Try alternative for web based project management tools is 5PM
    They are really good and cheaper and in the same time with powerful tools and reports.

  • You might want to consider the HyperOffice Collaboration Suite in the “complete solutions for small businesses” category. It brings an integrated toolkit, which I would humbly like to say it one of the most comprehensive in the market:-

    – Communication Tools (web and mobile email, Outlook integration, shared calendars, address books)
    – Collaboration Tools (intranet and extranet workspaces, online document management, project management, forums, polls)
    – Online Database Tools
    – Web Forms
    – Web Conferencing

  • I have once published an article written by Wrike’s CEO on the ideal pm tool, it’s actually objective, and he envisions the traits of such a tool

  • Sage Software has recently launched a free online invoicng tool for freelancers and small businesses at http://www.billingboss.com. Billing Boss is focused of keeping invoicing simple – so simple that you can get set up and send your first invoice in just a couple minutes.

    Please note: With the goal of full disclosure, I work at Sage. Feel free to contact me if you have any feedback about Billing Boss.

  • Find 10 most affordable yet promising online invoicing software that meet the needs of every Designer, Freelancer and Small Business owners. Many of them are free to use and comes with various packages. You can find them at http://www.bestpsdtohtml.com/10-online-invoicing-applications-for-designers-freelancers-and-businesses/

  • We use bug tracker as project management tools :)
    I suggest you subscribe to new web based task and issue tracker

  • HourDoc is tool for Time Tracking. http://www.HourDoc.com is right treatment for time and labor management processes has to be an easy-to-administer and affordable solution for Freelancers, supervisors, employees and HR and payroll managers. They offer free application to companies less than 50 employees.

  • revv

    I see many recommendation in the comments, so i would also like to recommend Replicon Web Timesheet Software that we use to track time based on the project and for client billing too.
    They also provide expense management feature, i haven’t much used that.

  • Nice list, thanks a lot. I use some of these already, but I think others could definitly be utilised in my business.

    You didnt mention any kind of HR or incentive tools. I currently use http://www.incentivelogic.com/ which I would recommend to others, so you could include that if you choose to add to your article.

    Anyway, thanks a lot for the advice

  • Be sure to checkout http://www.workingpoint.com if you need another bookkeeping software.

  • Wow…I found this article by accident but I am glad I did. Very helpful. Thank you

  • Thanks for a great article, one more web application I’d like to bring to the party is http://www.paperfreebilling.co.uk

    It’s recently been re-launched (completely re-written front to back) so its easier to use, quick, simple, reliable and secure.

    Feature wise its got recurring invoices, HTML formatted invoices, PDF invoices, multiple currency support, Paypal integration, late payment reminders and thank you messages, plus more!

    Featured as an “Editor’s Pick” on Apple.com’s iPhone homepage its very well regarded as an online invoicing tool, as well as iPhone compatible making it very useful for people who want to access their invoices whilst out of the office.

    If you like the sound of this, check it out and sign up for a FREE account.

  • Great help for my omtool which is related to business process management.
    Thanks for provide this article. :)

  • Very cool list. I’ve been using basecamp and backpack for years – both are undoubtedly amazing tools. One additional app to consider is OnState’s SaaS virtual call center (http://www.onstate.com/virtual-call-center) – a great tool for business continuity and workforce virtualization.

  • I find out pacific timesheet’s many ways of timesheet entry is very very handy and worth to mention:

    http://www.pacifictimesheet.com/timesheet_products/pacific_timesheet_supported_timesheet_interfaces.htm

    Jamil

  • Alex

    The problem with most of this tools is that they either are a single purpose solution, or don’t integrate with other tools (or both).

    We found Hardtree (www.hardtree.com) which both provides full pack of services and also integrates with other things. Looks very promising.

  • Amanda

    Make sure to have a look at Biztree. They provide a great business document templates software. Their website is: http://www.biztree.com

  • I know this is a little late to the conversation but we use TeamworkPM to manage our projects and it works really well for us.

  • Please visit the site and look at Management Power Suite

    MPS is an enterprise web-enabled solution that helps organization regains control of their time, task, and resources allocations. MPS eliminate duplication of effort and errors, provides rapid decision business processing, and increase productive. Severs as an Intranet Dashboard where all business functions are shared and monitored. Some of integrated modules are; quote management, Sale pipeline tracking, conversion features converting sales awarded (bid/proposals) into Contracting. It allocates resources (personnel/materials) as a budget management items as scheduled deliverable. At the core are the Human Resources features from hiring to assigning task and managing benefits using a task level timesheet, Project Management at five levels and providing Customer Representative Management interface for customer log-in to include export timesheet and job cost to multiple GAAP certified accounting system.

  • We use workforcetrack as a collaboration, PM+document sharing tool. What we really needed was the integration with Google apps and possibility to sign up with google accounts (our clients appoint tasks in google spreadsheet). We found this in WFT.

  • I`m very satisfied with projects that workforcetrack team made me.

  • Jesse Krause

    Nice list, glad to see zoho made it on there, I’ve been using them for a few years. A couple new ones I’ve been trying out are https://www.hiveage.com/ and http://www.job-flex.com/. I like Hiveage because I really enjoy the finishing touch they put on the invoices. It gives them a much more professional look, and a couple of my clients have commented on it. The other one I like because I do a lot of contracting work and it’s nice to have an app that kind of does most of the work for me. Check them out if you’re still looking for more!