Tools we use to run our remote team

While most teams believe they shape their tools to fit their processes, we believe the opposite. We believe the tools we use influence our processes and thereof shape our companies culture. In this post, I'm sharing our current toolbox as well as my opinion on the alternatives.

Farzad Ban
Founder/CEO
5
min read

Figma

The best interface design software. Fast, collaborative with an ever-growing ecosystem of plugins. It's worth to mention that without Sketch, none of these design tools we see today would have been possible. Sketch paved the path for today's tools like Framer and Figma.

With their current pace of funding and growth, I bet Microsoft would be a great home for them. With Github in their portfolio, Figma is an obvious choice to make Satya's dream come true. A one-stop-shop for software at work and Figma is his way to enter the creative workspace. If I were you, I would get some Microsoft stocks today because their future is brighter than their competitor (looking at you Apple).

Roadmap

The very first prioritisation software for remote teams. We designed Roadmap to help teams like us to get their work done without the meetings. Its job is to visualise your team's priorities and progress on a timeline, so you can, at just a glance spot the bottlenecks. It's everything we wish we had during our first 7 years of running 3drops.

GTD systems don't scale well once you are managing more than 2 people's work. Kanban boards make it impossible to prioritise your work and todo lists are a toxic way to manage your team's workload. Roadmap is our solution to solve remote team collaboration with transparency. It's been voted as one of the best remote tools on Product Hunt 3 years in a row. You should give it a try if you haven't already.

Slack

All that noise aside about real-time chat is suffocating teams, Slack is the Sketch of communication software. Their legacy is seeing chat apps in big corporates that were locked to Emails for so long. They also changed how larger organisations think about emerging software. Thanks to Slack, they are now more open-minded to try new solutions.

Now to address the rise of Thread based communication tools: Threads are not the solution to the problem. They are the product of the side effect. Similar to how Meetings are not the problem. You just need to use them at the right time. Keep your work-related communication to your project management tool. And only call each other when it's absolutely necessary. Problem solved.

Front

First, let's take a moment of silence for all the great email clients that came before this. Far too many. Why? Simple, no pricing model. None. Imagine that. But back to Front. The best email client for teams. It's finally possible to delegate your inbox to your team with their amazing features. Highly recommend it.

But, they are on the pricey side of the fence, especially if you have more than a few team inboxes. For a cheaper alternative, you can use Spark or Missive.

Notion

Our team wiki. We are currently using it for our handbook, briefs, contracts, etc. Anything doc related goes there. What I like the most about Notion is actually not their product but their design discipline. For a design centred startup their age, we've rarely seen any redesigns on the product or marketing website since their start. The way they've prioritised their efforts into growing their user base is remarkable.

The only issue is the organisation part. Paper has none. Notion has now too many. Both products make it difficult to quickly find something. And for that reason, we are currently considering moving to Outline.

Harvest

This is more of an honourable mention than our current tool stack. We used Harvest since our early days until most recently. In the beginning, we used it to track our team's time, then only our freelancers and at last, we stopped tracking it altogether. Then we just used it to send invoices to our clients which we are now currently looking at other alternatives.

I'm curious about Harvest. I've always been. Their product hasn't changed all that much since we started using it years ago. And as far as I remember, they haven't added many new features either. They released Forecast a while back. Yet according to their team page, they are 60 people working there full-time. Makes you wonder.

Stripe

An obvious choice for SaaS companies. Roadmap's billing is powered by Stripe. Stripe is what PayPal could've become if they saw the opportunity fast enough. Now, Paypal is soon going to be forgotten if they don't wake up.

Stripe is great. Their support is amazing. Their visualisation tools are not. Since I shared this post, I've seen more updates on this front. Especially their new Dashboard and Billing pages with a visual overview of your subscription business. So I'm hoping they will continue it by adding more flexibility there. Bad news for Baremetrics, Chartmogual and their likes though.

ChartMogul

Until Stripe provides us with the necessary information, we rely on ChartMogul to make sense of our numbers. At Roadmap, we track our MRR, Trials, Conversion and Churn rates at weekly and monthly intervals.

Not much can be said here. Unfortunately, all of these stripe visualisation tools show you the same things in the same way. So there are not much of differentiators going on other than their pricing plan. This is why I'm so excited about Slim. Our new take on SaaS analytics for early-stage startups.

Psst, Chartmogul.. What's up with your logo?

Fullstory

A god sent product. Being able to watch people use your product is the best gift you give to any early-stage startup. I can easily say that Roadmap wouldn't be where it is today without this magical software. So to the amazing team behind Fullstory, we owe you one.

Once we implemented Fullstory to Roadmap, we instantly learned where the gaps were in our product. Meaning how we thought people would use the product and how they were actually interacting with it. In fact, after implementing Fullstory for just a month, we started tweaking our product to align the features with our user's expectations. The result of that limited effort was a much higher conversion- and feature adoption rate which lead us to completely remove our support docs.

Amplitude/Metabase

Data, Data, Data, you gotta track that data. I wish at least half of us knew what we were supposed to do with this data. Truth is, only a few do. And they are called data scientists. Yet, the people that need this the most are the founders, designers, engineers of small early-stage startups. They need guidance. They need direction. They need to know where to focus their limited resources. Yet, these tools only add to the confusion, if not mislead them.

We've explored dozens of tracking software for Roadmap over the years. To us, tracking software should do the work for you. It should prioritise the data for you. It should visualise it in a way that you understand. It should notify you when a metric suddenly falls so you can take action. It should show you the way. So we just made our own internal app to guide us on how to grow Roadmap. It's called Slim.

Mailchimp

What used to be an amazing piece of software with personality is now just another tool that does everything for everyone. Yet, the majority only uses a small portion of the available features. Mailchimp badly needs a redesign to better organise those features and prioritise the right ones for the right audience. Not everyone needs to be blasted with everything all the time.

But I still like Mailchimp. I love what it represents. A bootstrapped company made by an agency that generates over $600KK in revenue. A true unicorn. I hope I can meet Ben in this lifetime and chat. If you don't know him, watch his at CreativeMorning a couple of years ago about Do What You Love.

Intercom

Good idea, great product, one confusing pricing model. With all of the add-ons, it's almost impossible to know how much the service will cost you until it's your billing day.

We are using Intercom to chat with our Roadmap customers. We don't use the Help Centre as Roadmap is so simple it doesn't need any explanation. No bots because we like to keep things personal.

Webflow

An obvious choice for marketing websites. What used to take days to test new pitches for your site, it takes minutes. And everyone can do it. From the founders to designers, customer support and developers. Anyone can learn something new and implement it to see how it works.

That being said, the learning curve is still very steep. With my front-end development skills, I should be able to create a simple landing page from scratch in less than an hour. Yet I spent days feeling lost until I just gave up and hired a Webflow specialist. So the product design is still not there yet. Fewer investments in creating support docs and videos and more focus on simplifying the product would go a long way here.

Hope you enjoyed reading this. For more, you can view our Teams.Tools. Our curated directory of quality software for teams.

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