Customer Management Articles

What Is the Best Small Business Online Software ToolKit – Part 1

by Christophe Primault
Published on 17 November 2011

For some time we have been following a question on Quora about useful SaaS (online software) tools for small businesses. As we were seeing interesting real users feedback coming in, we decided to make a summary of the responses and to complement Quora's answers with solutions that are popular with users of the online software marketplace.

For each selected software we are sharing users feedback rather than vendor descriptions. Quora's answers are from a variety of companies such as Assistly, Fetchnotes, DeskAway, and independent experts such as marketing consultant Barak Kassar, web journalist Asam Shah or Julie Stanford presenter of the SMB radio show "Business as Usual".

In the first part of this article we are covering the following categories: CRM, Project Management, Customer Support, Accounting, AccountingWeb Collaboration and Integrated Suites.

In the second part we discuss different categories: Backup, Social Media Management, Email Marketing, Events Management, Web Site Optimization & Monitoring, Tasks Management and Survey Tools.


Batchbook: "We've tried many CRM systems, but we like this one because not only does it integrate with GMail and Rapportive giving you up-to-date information about your contacts, but it is superb in terms of its social media integration"

Highrise: "Track those leads, store the conversations, and have all the other CRM functions you need. Very helpful stuff."

With users, the most popular options are:

Zoho CRM: "We made the choice of Zoho CRM after carefully reviewing many other options such as SugarCRM and Saleforce. What really made us choose Zoho initially was the free trial for three users. Set-up has been straightforward and learning how to use the product is very easy."

WorkBook CRM:"An extremely usable product, I found Workbooks to be a great all rounder. Providing a feature rich interface which does the core of what other CRM's products do, and in some cases that little bit better"

Maximizer CRM:"With its social CRM features, it helps you adopt the ever-changing social media platform of the day into your database & systems"

Reviews and side by side comparison of's

Top 3 Popular Online CRM

Project Management

Teamwork: "Good online project management and task organiser, like Basecamp, but better in my opinion.sure They also have the best feedback system I've ever experienced.

Basecamp from 37 Signals: "Cheap, extremely simple, and keeps the 20+ projects we work on at once all on track. Clients can login to and be part of the process, which is extremely helpful."

Wrike: "Excellent opportunities for online file sharing and document collaboration, is integrated with Google Doc, Excel, Outlook and MS Project and time-tracking functions. You'll have all data in one place and get possibility to easily manage your tasks, schedules and files without switching between multiple programs. Wrike has definitely increased my team's (as well as my personal) productivity"

With users, the most popular options are:

AtTask (now Workfront): "It really offers a lot of power and a great ability to deliver customized reports about virtually anything related to work. One of the most interesting part is the integration of all modules into a single solution: issue tracking, project management, time tracking, resource management, and portfolio management."

Mavenlink:"Loving Mavenlink, it is just making my life so much easier. Working virtually with mavenlink got rid of countless e-mail updates, and everything could just be checked up on in one quick and easy place. Efficiency at its best."

Zoho Projects:"Ir is seemingly simple from the outset and is made up of four modules and held together with a colorful and interactive dashboard that provides an overview of your "project" stream."

Reviews and side by side comparison of's

Top 3 Popular Online Project Management

Customer Support

Assistly: "Awesome tool for delivering customer Wow"

HappyFox: " Our preferred software for customer support & service. We also use it as bug tracking and development task management tool"

With users, the most popular options are:

ZenDesk: "There are many fine solutions out there - and Zendesk is one of the better ones in terms of its own client support, training and host of features to to help make your help desk as "helpful" as possible for your customers"

Assistly: "We've been using Assistly for about one year, can't imagine doing business without it! Efficient, easy to use and implement, they offer great customer service, and have done a fabulous job of implementing feedback. It is the ideal start-up customer service & social media solution."

Zoho Support: "You can have your customers contact your support agents via phone, web form, email as well as self-service capabilities which you can embed on your web site to enable both you and your customers to monitor and track the request in the same real-time view."

Reviews and side by side comparison of's

Top 3 Popular Online Customer Support Software


Quickbooks Online: "It is an easy and extremely useful solution for creating invoices, pays bills and tracking expenses."

Liquid Accounts: "The easiest accounting app on the market"

With users, the most popular options are:

Xero: Getting started with Xero is really easy and intuitive. It has a nice set of features to cover most accounting needs. I would recommend it especially because usability and thorough data management makes it a viable option for a range of individuals and businesses. There is even an option to open the system to your accountants

Zoho Books: "Zoho Books is point-to-point accounting software for SMB's that allows companies to manage their finances and make better decisions. The collaboration and visibility within the tool allows owners, management, and accounting resources to understand the flow of money in and out of the company and help forecasting for the business."

FinancialForce: "The main features are the creation of orders and invoices in only one click, the real time reporting business analysis and the 360º view of the customer thanks to their close relationship with Salesforce."

Reviews and side by side comparison of's

Top 3 Popular Online Accounting Software

Web Collaboration

Google Apps: "Great for sharing documents and collaboration.Mostly for word and spreadsheet, not so much presentations. Contacts management.

Skype: "Essential for group collaboration. Create a few groups for your teams and have a searchable, evergreen status board. (I guess, technically, this is not SaaS, but close enough)

GotoMeeting: "Only because skype's screensharing sucks. But seriously, these guys do great screensharing. Very solid and reliable and better for use with people outside your company who may be skype users"

With users, the most popular options are:

HyperOffice: "HyperOffice has proved to be a very useful tool for users who typically don't have much IT expertise. We chose HyperOffice because we liked the fact that we got multiple tools in a single solution - shared documents, project management, calendars, wikis, contacts, forums etc."

SAP StreamWork: "It enables real-time collaboration in a fun and socially relevant way!"

Podio: "Podio is one of the easiest and most flexible management solutions I came across, it is as far as I know a rather new product therefore some obvious features are missing such as cross space reference"

Reviews and side by side comparison of's

Top 3 Popular Web Collaboration Apps

Beware of integration issues!

As one of the question respondent rightly says: "Many small businesses try to go with the popular choices and pick up ERP or CRM systems, or go with multiple solutions to manage separate aspects of their business. They often start with a CRM or project management tool, then slowly add tools to the list to take care of other operations. This most commonly ends with a business trying to manage itself through 3-4 different systems that don't integrate properly resulting in huge monthly costs and very little added efficiency."

A popular option with small businesses is to go with something that can package all of their potential needs into one system, while taking future growth into account. This possibility is brought by what is called "integrated online software suites".

Integrated Suites

With users, the most popular options are:

NetSuite: "good accounting service if your small business is starting to grow. With all the different roles available you can divide the software between key employees in your company easily."

BrightPearl: "I have been using Brightpearl for over 2 years and I am very happy. I use is for ecommerce, accounting, stock control, purchasing, basically everything and it's does a very good job"

WORKetc: "This is a very comprehensive suite of must have services that include CRM, collaboration and billing. Each individual service offer a comprehensive set of features. It compares well to other integrated solutions such as Zoho or and offers more than single function products that only do invoicing, time tracking or CRM"

Reviews and side by side comparison of's

Top 3 Popular Integrated Small Business Suite

What about you? What are the business apps you couldn't live without?

It would be great to spend five minutes sharing what are the web apps that you find the most useful for your businesses.

Use the following link to share your preferred tools with other small businesses:

What are your preferred software tools?


Apps mentioned in this article