The age of the 100% co-located office, where the entire workforce, e.g. marketing, HR, IT, sales were all housed in one office are over. Businesses are no longer restricted by the office walls, city boundaries or even international borders. Businesses have gone global and so have their employees, meaning many business now operate in a virtual capacity being composed of both co-located and virtual team members, located anywhere around the country or around the world. Many firms, that are now being born in this new age, are composed entirely of virtual workers located all over the country and world.
This is why cloud computing has become such a crucial enabler as it empowers virtual teams to work effectively across borders and time zones by allowing virtual team members to collaborate effective through an entirely web or cloud based management system.
I believe that there are 4 crucial pieces of cloud based software that small international businesses should be making use of and these are:
1.Cloud Based Electronic Signature Software.
You can now arrange to have your employment contracts and client contracts signed electronically in a legally robust, faster and more efficient way using trusted e-signing companies like Docusign, CoSign by Arx or Echosign by Adobe. You can find a list of both free and affordable electronic signing services here.
2.Cloud Based HR Software
If you have employees from all over the world, you’ll need to develop a paperless people management process and the best way do this is using a cloud based HR system. There are a range of free or affordable cloud based HR systems on the web which will enable you to manage employee personal data, manage performance appraisals and coordinate attendance. This software is a must for international virtual businesses. You can find a list of both free and affordable HR software systems here.
If your focus is more based around individual performance management, you might also consider a specific performance appraisal based web service, and you can find a list of free or affordable performance appraisal apps here.
3.Cloud Based Team Collaboration App – Shared to do list
Cloud based shared to do list software is an absolute most for virtual teams and hybrid virtual/co-located teams that need to collaborate effectively. These apps will allow team members to share tasks, files and calendars, communications etc… and many of them come with a social network capacity. They will also have basic project management functionality such as progress tracking, milestones, deadlines and alerts. You can find a list of both free and affordable team collaboration apps here.
4.Cloud Based Project Management Apps
This is an enhanced version of the shared to do list apps. There are a range of heavy weight project management applications on the market which enable you manage complex projects between large teams, containing functionality, such as assigning resources, process tracking, expense tracking, time tracking, document management, milestones, dependencies etc…You can find a list of both free and affordable cloud based project management apps here.