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Ask HN: Basic Tools for a Small Company
5 points by jari_mustonen 10 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 10 comments
I've been running a new company for a year now and it seems that the company is starting to take off. When running a company there are a set of basic tools that you will take in use and can't change easily afterwards. Some general considerations should also be ease of managing all the tools so that adding or removing user does not take whole day.

What basic tools does HN recommend?

Hosting email: I've been using Office 365 but I find unsatisfactory. The email service should be able to handle automated emails that I'm using to provide my service.

Simple task manager: I feel GitLab is a bit overkill. I would like to manage a few different teams.

File sharing: Once again, I'm using Office 365 but it is shitty service. Preferably I I would like to host some files in git (or git-like solution) if there would be tool with a simple enough user interface. Or should I start using Dropbox or some other dedicated service?

Messaging service: Is WhatsApp enough. Slack? Teams?

A little background to give context: I do automation and analytics consulting for small businesses (who aren't usually technical in their focus), but I think this advice can still be applicable to technically-oriented companies as well.

Well-established tools remove a lot of the headaches around maintenance, bugs, and lack of features that could slow down your operations. They tend to be pretty reliable and have all the options for easy license management, support teams that probably has had a similar ticket sometime in the past, and enough official documentation or forum activity to support many of the requests you might have.

For this reason, Office 365 and Google Workspace would be the best bets for email and all other common business apps (storage, word docs, spreadsheets, presentations, etc.). Almost everyone has encountered the platforms, know how to download and install apps on various devices, and will be asking for all the apps that come with Office 365 and Google Workspace. The platforms also scale easily to thousands of employees if you end up getting to that point. Biggest bang for the buck in my opinion.

Basecamp for project management. If your staff isn't technically inclined, then AirTable for all those "not a spreadsheet but not a full-blown application" projects that always pop up.

The rest of the tools are completely dependent on what type of business you run. In general, no-code/low-code tools can get you a very long way and make it very easy for employees to take care of low-hanging inefficiency fruit. They're great for both technical and non-technical employees because they can do certain things so easily. Zapier or Integromat are examples that will provide the possibilities to connect tons of existing apps, but also will allow your technical team to develop other solutions with their APIs and code steps that other team members can then use as well.

https://github.com/cjbarber/ToolsOfTheTrade based on previous HN questions. But it doesn't recommend one service over an another.

> so that adding or removing user does not take whole day

That's https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Single_sign-on Many enterprise SaaS support it, or rather they support it in their more expensive plans, e.g. Slack on their Plus plans. https://app.slack.com/plans/T052FRL5V Smaller SaaS rarely offer SSO.

Thank you! It's great to get an answer. I was expecting that I need to get a way more upvotes to have quality comments but here you are. :)

I'm going to recomend you stay with 365! i will ttry to answer your criticisms and then tell you the banger at the end

> The email service should be able to handle automated emails that I'm using to provide my service.

365 has SMTP and can send automated mails, but sending bulk mail from any mailbox service does not scale. I use Mailchimp for mailing lists and Mailgun for sending from apps. Mailchimp and mailgun are scalable and wont get you marked as a spammer. 365 mail has a killer feature, more below.

> Simple task manager I tend to reccomend Microsoft Planner and Tasks for the kockout reason below.

> File sharing: Once again, I'm using Office 365 but it is shitty service

File sharing with who? Your team? or the world. Remember you have Sharepoint with Office too. What do you find shitty? Everything that is true of Dropbox is true of 365, but 365 has a killer feature below.

> Messaging: Teams, and here is the killer feature of 365. The filesharing of Sharepoint and Ondrive, the Tasks from Planner and Todo, and your emails are all completely integrated. So you create a project team, it gets an email group, its files on Sharepoint are shared with all the team members. Your Teams meetings appear in your Outlook Calendar. You also get the best Spreadsheet app going.

As your business scales being able to manage all of this through a single directory service will matter more and more to you, and the fact that there are more feature rich versions of all of these apps in the market will matter less and less.

If your company is taking off, why are you trying to change tools?

Tools just need to be good enough. Put your energy into building your the important parts of your business. Good luck.

It's different managing a team than doing it yourself. Tools that work for one does not work for many. Would like to have basic foundations right while doing nothing too compolicated.

All of the current pieces are sufficient for a team.

Or to put it another way, you have not made a business case for changing. But the case against changing is that change will disrupt operations. There’s more money in customer growth and product development.

At some point you might be lucky enough to be forced to change. Then it will be the right thing to do.

Email: GSuite

Task Manager: Trello

File sharing: Google Drive (part of GSuite)

Code: GitHub

Messaging: Slack for messaging stakeholders (I'm in tons of Slack orgs), PaperCups (Or Drip/Crisp Chat/Intercom) for responding to my customers

For context, these are the services I'm using for building a SaaS (https://onlineornot.com), your business might have different needs.

Why not gsuite? It has everything you need... you can use trello free tier for tasks too. Slack free tier will be enough as well.

If you want happy employees, stay far, far away from microsoft products. NO ONE likes teams.


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