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What’s the difference between vs Salesforce Service Cloud? We spell it out

By Suzie Blaszkiewicz, 21 July 2017

Trying to decipher the difference between a myriad of customer support and help desk can be challenging. The first problem is figuring out what the differences between the two types of software are; the second is knowing which one you need. Two apps that cause particular confusion are vs Salesforce Service Cloud. Before we get into the difference between the two, however, let’s start with a distinction between customer service and help desk. (more…)

How to choose a knowledge management system: A 10-point checklist

By Mike Aoki, 19 July 2017

Imagine your customer service agent interacting with a customer. They mean well, but it takes them forever to find the right information using your current knowledge management (KM) system. What score do you think the caller would give them on their post-call customer satisfaction survey? How likely are they to recommend your company or buy from you again? Was the customer service agent at fault? Maybe not. They may have simply been victimized by a slow, outdated knowledge management system. Years ago, companies began storing policies, product information, and marketing promotions in internal intranets, wikis, and sometimes even in Excel spreadsheets. As the sheer amount of information grew, they stayed with their current system as it got bloated. State of the art knowledge management systems, however, make it easy to find the right answers quickly, reduce average handle time (AHT), and improve customer satisfaction (CSAT) and net promoter scores (NPS.) Here is a 10-point checklist for how to choose a knowledge management system for your company, ensuring that you avoid some of the pitfalls of outdated KM systems. 1. Accuracy Even if the right information is loaded into the database, can your new knowledge management system find it using commonly searched phrases? For example, the product information needed for a warranty claim is different than the product information needed to upsell a customer. Does your KM system have the ability to correctly sort potential answers, so that the most likely ones show up at the top of the list? 2. Relevancy Can your new knowledge management system retrieve only the information that applies to your employee's role, or do they waste time sifting through unnecessary information? A great knowledge management system will prioritize answers based upon your employee's job. For example, a tier 1 agent's login only brings up information related to basic inquiries. Meanwhile, a tier 2 escalation agent gets more detailed information. As a result, AHT decreases and customers are more satisfied because agents have the right information at their fingertips. 3. Speed Being accurate and relevant is a great first step, but you also need a system that is fast. There's nothing worse than waiting for the computer to finish its search. That drives up talk time and reduces service levels. It's important to remember that speed matters! 4. Compliance Getting accurate and relevant information quickly helps with compliance. Agents have the right answers, meaning that they don't need to ad lib or guess the correct procedures. This helps ensure compliance to legal standards, which is critical in certain industries such as financial services. 5. Ease of knowledge migration Migration is sometimes viewed as a pain point, but it is also a great opportunity to review and update your knowledge articles. Edit them for accuracy, scanability, and effectiveness. As for the migration itself, the right vendor will have processes in place to make it move as seamlessly as possible. 6. Ability to update information and add new content Can your new KM system be administered by your own employees? Great knowledge management systems make it easy for your team to keep the information up to date. It also allows you to add new content and search terms without having to call customer support. 7. Feedback loop to create employee engagement Does your new knowledge management system provide agents with a built-in opportunity to provide feedback on content accuracy? Can they request new search terms and expanded descriptions? An excellent KM system allows users to leverage the system to produce improvements. 8. Analytics for scorecards and coaching data Can your knowledge management system generate scorecards to indicate the most searched topics? You can use this information to train and coach agents to answer those questions faster. 9. Provision for daily knowledge updates and training A great KM system allows agents to sign in for their shift and automatically see the day's updates and key messages. It can also host eLearning modules so that agents are up to speed before their first call of the day. 10. Ability to be deployed enterprise wide Having separate knowledge management systems for your contact center, sales team, and web site increases administrative overhead. It also creates corporate silos. Says knowledge management system provider InfiniteKM in their white paper Tools to Accelerate Business Results, “according to a Gartner study, 66% of enterprises use six or more information repositories. While much of this vast wealth of information is likely relevant to customers, agents, and sales reps, it is also likely far too cumbersome to navigate." In comparison, a knowledge management system should be deployed enterprise wide to increase information sharing and reduce administrative management costs. You can use these ten criteria to choose the right knowledge management system for better customer service and sales support. The only thing worse than the expense of a new system is the cost of poor customer service and lost sales. About the author: Mike Aoki is the President of Reflective Keynotes Inc., a Canadian training company that helps contact centers improve their sales and customer retention results. As a call center expert, Mike serves on the Advisory Council of the Greater Toronto Area Contact Center Association and was Master of Ceremonies for their 2012-2014 and 2016 Annual Conferences. He was also chosen as one of the “Top 50 Customer Service Thought Leaders on Twitter" for 2014, 2015 and 2016. More about how to choose a knowledge management system: See our catalogue of knowledge management systems on GetApp. Try our Customer Service Scorecard to find a customer service app that has the right features for you. See which customer service apps have knowledge management systems.

See you Skype: 10 alternatives that are worth the hype

By Karen McCandless, 19 July 2017

Despite a lot of hate for Microsoft (just take a look at the comments at the end of this article), Skype is still a tempting choice for any company. Skype is a familiar tool that most people use in their personal lives; it’s backed by Microsoft and its mighty resource pool, and there are different versions to cater for all company sizes (regular free Skype, Skype Meetings and, formerly known as Lync, Skype for Business). But Microsoft's popular communications product is by no means without its issues (many of which are well documented), such as poor call quality, out-of-control notifications, unreliable connections, problems with Skype credit, and so on. The hashtag #Skypedown always trends when there is an outage. GetApp reviewer Denis Tylibtsev says: “We need to organize multipoint conf calls several times a week. Skype often drops the line.” The good news is that there are many communication and collaboration apps that are similar to Skype and make credible alternatives. We’ve scoured review data from GetApp and its sister sites Software Advice and Capterra, as well as product information and news, to find the top Skype alternatives by cost, business size, integrations, mobile app, user reviews, scalability, ease of implementation, customer support, and updates. Pricing Skype pricing depends on which option you go for - there is the free desktop version of Skype for conference calls with up to 25 people, then there is Skype Meetings, which is a web-based version of Skype that allows you to have meetings for up to three people for free. It’s only available in the US Then there is Skype for Business, which is a paid version. Skype for Business is available within selected Office 365 plan, which start at either $5 per user per month if paid annually, or $6 per user per month if paid monthly. is also free, but, just like Skype, this version only allows you to run meetings with three participants. The Pro version costs $18 per user per month and the Business version costs $30 per user per month. However, it can save money over Skype in a number of ways. For example, allows you to give meeting participants a toll free number to call into, so they don’t need to have the app installed (unless you want to use the video chat functionality). Reviewer Steve Hockey says: “The ability to provide our customers with local dial-in numbers instead of expensive toll free numbers saved us a lot of money.” GetApp reviewer Scott Rivers says: “I know most people use it for screen shares first, but for the price I pay (been with them for years), it's worth it for me to have it just for the conference calls around the world.” Business size (ie best for small businesses) Microsoft has traditionally seen much of its success come from enterprise rather than small businesses - take Office 365 as an example, with adoption rates of 7.5 percent among SMBs. Skype is different in that it was an acquisition rather than a Microsoft-built legacy app, and it also launched a product specifically for small businesses called Skype Meetings, there are still Skype alternatives that start the end of the market with little to no resource or budget. 8x8 8x8 has been lauded by GetApp users as offering a top notch combination of unique features at a very affordable price, in addition to superior customer support and regular updates. This makes it suitable for the smallest of businesses. Reviewer  Anthony "Tony" Kunkel explains: “We have started a landscape and hardscape business in Houston recently. Just a small family owned organization with big dreams. In researching a phone option, I found 8X8 to be the exact match that we were looking for. The cost was low and keeps us going, but the features are the best. In the world of cellular phones, I have a personalized 8X8 auto-attendant message answering calls, and with a press of one button, customers and vendors get connected to the person or department that they need. No more answering and hanging around the phone at the office. Voice mail messages are emailed to me. I can listen and forward the voicemail to whom I need to handle the situation.  Also, I get to set business hours, set messages, and control the phone system from an app and the website.” Integrations With the weight of the Microsoft ecosystem behind it, Skype boasts plenty of integrations, not just to Microsoft apps for ERP, CRM, marketing, business intelligence, customer service, etc, but it’s not the only heavyweight in the communications and collaboration space in terms of integrations. Hangouts Meet (as part of G Suite) When we first published this article, many of the people who commented recommended Hangouts as an easy-to-use and reliable alternative to Skype. This was before Google released its Hangouts Meet product, which is only available as part of G Suite. G Suite has a huge amount of integrations, spanning CRM, accounting, sales, HR, project management, and recruitment. These include Xero, HubSpot, Wrike, Zenefits, Insightly, and Kayako.  It integrates with 217 apps on GetApp. Mobile App As Skype was an acquisition, its mobile apps weren’t dragged down by the association with Windows Phone, so there are well-developed apps for iOS and Android. However, the iOS app has poor reviews on the Apple App Store, especially for the latest update. Its Android app fares better, with a solid four out of five rating, but there are still alternatives to Skype that offer a better mobile experience. WebEx WebEx’s mobile apps are mentioned time and time as a reason to choose the software. In addition, both the iOS and Android apps score an average of four stars or higher on the respective app stores. Reviewer Justin Loh says: “One of the best features that I have come to appreciate is the iOS app. If I'm stuck in traffic on the way to the office or can't get to a desktop/laptop computer, I can still participate with ease thanks to its slick integration with iOS' Calendar app. I simply click on the link to the meeting in the event notification which opens the app. I am then prompted to call in and can even turn on the front-facing camera if I so choose.” User reviews Skype is “much improved” according to one recent user review, however there are still a raft of other complaints from unhappy users regarding slow loading speed and the need for everyone to have Skype installed to communicate for free. It averages a score of 4.01 overall from almost 100 user reviews. Samepage While both Zoho Meeting and ezTalks score a perfect 5 from user reviews, we’ve decided to set the bar at a minimum of 10 user reviews to ensure a more accurate reflection. With a score of 4.72 out of 5 from nearly 100 reviews, Samepage comes out as the top alternative to Skype for user reviews. Samepage is like Skype meets Slack, with a raft of communication and collaboration features built in that will make you want to ditch your email and communications solution. GetApp reviewer Jeff Gray says:  “It just makes working together with my team so much easier. We've abandoned email and Slack long ago - we get all of our communication and content sharing done in Samepage now. As a design agency, we also share our work with clients through Samepage and it makes progress on each project so much easier to see. It's perfect for the following: task lists, file sharing, meetings, internal & client communications, event coordination, human resources documentation. Great mobile app too.” Scalability If you begin using Skype for free, as your business grows and you need to hold conferences larger than 20 people, you may want to move on to Skype for Business. However, this is not merely an upgrade to an existing product, it’s a whole different piece of software, despite having the same look and feel. This makes scalability more challenging as you can’t just change plans and continue as normal with some extra features. Slack Slack was initially aimed at the startup end of the market and was adopted by smaller businesses. However, its rapid growth since its inception has changed all this. The almost 3,000 GetApp readers who use Slack are spread across business sizes ranging from 1-10 to more than 1,000.  While the biggest portion of users fall under the 1-10 and 11-50 business size, there is still a significant portion in the 1001+ business size. This is reflected by the launch in February 2017 of Slack Enterprise Grid, which is an enterprise version of its messaging platform. Training Implementation of any product can require training and support afterwards to make sure all users can get the most out of the software. The consensus seems to be that Skype is easy to use, so not much training is needed. Of course, if you're transitioning from Lync to Skype for Business this could be a different story. Reviewer Amber Berkey says: "It is an intuitive product that is easy to use and easy to implement. There is little to no training on its use, and it greatly increases our ability to communicate across multiple sites in various cities." Ringcentral In terms of training, Ringcentral has guides, FAQs, videos, webinars, and a community portal to provide training after implementation. It also has a University, which provide online training courses that users can take at their own pace. GetApp reviewers were happy with the after-sales training and support they received from RingCentral. Reviewer Nich Belichner says: "My support representative was very polite and responsive, he seemed to care if my questions were answered and if I was getting what I needed out of my RC account, he also took the time to find me a solution that worked with my account but still met my needs." Reviewer Georgia Taylor says: "Support representative was very patient with the fact that nothing worked at first (including the original attempt to access computer). He was quick to find alternate solution to get things up and running." Ease of implementation As Skype is a familiar product, it’s normally easy to implement, although businesses still have to make the decision whether to implement Skype for Business in the cloud or on-premise. Reviewer Amber Berkey says of Skype: “It is an intuitive product that is easy to use and easy to implement.” However, if you’re not sold, there are alternatives to Skype that also excel in terms of ease of implementation. GoToMeeting GetApp users regularly cite GoToMeeting’s ease of implementation and the speed at which you can get up and running on as a major advantage of choosing this app over other communication software. Reviewer Andy Golden describes GoToMeeting as: “Simple to implement.” GetApp Reviewer Jessica Saal describes GoToMeeting as: “Very easy to use and user friendly. quick and easy to learn across multiple locations within our organization.” GetApp user Christie Noel says GoToMeeting is: Very user friendly - easy to coordinate, set up, and execute. Reviewer Terrance Mitchell also points out that it’s easy to train others to use the app when it is set up: “I like how the controls are set up an arranged. very simple to use and to teach to other users.” Customer support Skype gets mixed reviews in terms of customer support, with mostly positive ratings, but users still find it difficult to get help when they need it. One reviewer says: “Automated phone system could use some work. It was not very convenient to reach a customer service representative.” Samepage Samepage is the highest ranked communication and webconferencing app on GetApp for customer support, with all ratings either excellent or very good. The reasons reviewers give that make Samepage’s customer service standout include around the clock support in different time zones, personalized training, and fast response times. One reviewer cited Samepage’s customer support as the reason who they upgraded to the Pro package: “First, what convinced me to go Pro...the technical support was nothing short of amazing. The person assigned to our team always makes herself available from 6am to 6pm in my timezone. Because our team couldn't all train at the same time, she set up different times for different sets of members. She answered any questions we had through chat often within minutes and never longer than 20 minutes during her work hours.” Regular Updates Until a major update and redesign in June 2017, Skype hadn’t added any significant new feature or carried out any important redesign since 2006. This was also the first time that Microsoft had made any major new update to the app since its acquisition in 2011. Given the competitive nature of the collaboration, VoIP and communications world, there is every chance that the app could be overtaken in terms of features and usability RingCentral According to GetApp reviewers, RingCentral regularly adds new features and makes updates to improve the product. Reviewer Sam Jolman says that there are: “Highly active updates and new features.” GetApp reviewer Stephanie Rose says: “RingCentral has been very easy to use from the beginning and an extremely reliable product for our company. We also appreciate the fact that they are always adding new features and updates that make their product even better.” Which alternatives to Skype do you recommend? The communications, collaboration and messaging space is fast moving and there have been many changes and developments since we first published this article. We’re always keen to hear from our readers about which there favorite apps are. Here are some other Skype alternatives that we haven’t been able to include in this article: ooVoo Zoom Ring Cisco Spark VIPole Let us know which alternatives to Skype you would recommend by connecting with us on Twitter or by emailing me at If you still haven't found what you're looking for, check out: GetApp's full list of communication apps Independent reviews of VoIP apps A handy checklist for choosing VoIP apps. This post was first published in and has been updated.

CRM vs CEM: Which one does your business need?

By Suzie Blaszkiewicz, 19 July 2017

Acronyms and initialisms make people uncomfortable. If they're being thrown around in conversation and you don't know what they mean, you zone out completely, only to come back with smile and a nod, pretending you have any idea what CRM, CEM, ERP, or POS stand for. (more…)

The price is right: 4 competitor monitoring apps to outmatch your rivals

By Rhian Davies, 18 July 2017

They say keep your friends close and your enemies closer, and if you're running an eCommerce store, then you'll need to keep this advice close to heart. Comparison shopping search engines such as Google Shopping have contributed to the rise in eCommerce merchants desperately trying to outmatch their rivals' prices, promotions, and catalogs. (more…)

8 Must-have HR Apps for Your iPhone or iPad

By Abhishek Singh, 14 July 2017

A HR worker's life is never dull. Training, applicant tracking, and performance management are just some of the tasks that HR teams have to content with in their day-to-day life. But what if you could manage all these time-sucking tasks on your iPhone or iPad just by swiping through apps on your touchscreen? The App Store is loaded with HR apps that can make light work of complex HR tasks, covering everything from screening candidate profiles for job interviews to creating eLearning courses. All you have to do is sign up for a cloud HR software solution then download that company's's corresponding iOS app. In this article we will cover eight iOS HR apps that can help you with hiring, employee scheduling, training, and employee engagement. Hiring The App Store boasts a host of applicant tracking and hiring apps to help you select the right candidate. From advertising jobs to offering job listings and contacting eligible candidates, your iPhone can ease the burden of hiring the perfect candidate and free up time for you to focus on other tasks like training and engaging existing employees. You can easily view the profiles of candidates and schedule interviews, all through your iPhone. Here are two apps that can help you hire candidates through your iPhone or iPad: Greenhouse The Greenhouse iOS app helps you recruit candidates faster using your iPhone or iPad, due to the app's intuitive user interface. You can browse through candidate profiles while commuting to and from office or attending an important business event. If multitasking HR tasks is one of the key challenges that you face everyday, Greenhouse for your iPhone and iPad can ease that burden by helping you select the best candidate due to the app's following features: View and approve job openings View and review candidate profiles Use pre-installed interview kits that help you create interviews and provide feedback Task-based dashboard to view scheduled interviews, candidate scorecards, and candidates pending for job approvals Greenhouse is a handy recruiting companion that can help you shortlist candidates based on your business requirements. Pricing: Available on request. Recruitee Recruitee's app for iPhone and iPad helps you select your ideal candidate from a pool of applicants. Its advanced search features help you drill down to the candidate profile based on specific skill sets. The iOS app helps you collaborate with different stakeholders in selecting a candidate as all team members can view, accept, and reject the same candidate through their iPhone. You can use the app for the following hiring tasks: Review candidate profiles, receive notifications when a candidate is shortlisted, and view progress bar on dashboards to stay updated on candidate selection and rejection. Filter candidates as per your business requirement such as skill set, salary, and more. Share notes with other team members for selecting a particular candidate by leaving a comment on their profile. Recruitee helps to speed up the hiring process by sending updates on a candidate's selection process to your HR team, so that all team members are kept up-to-date. Pricing: From $19 per month. Employee Scheduling Employee scheduling software lets you automate employee schedules to enhance productivity. With your iPhone you can monitor employee leave based on vacation, sick time, compensation time, and receive alerts when there dates conflict. Shiftboard and Deputy are two iOS apps that can help you manage employee scheduling. Shiftboard Shiftboard lets you view employee availability based on their leave, helping you organize schedules in real time. You can create, view, edit, and manage employee schedules through the app's dashboard. Features of the iOS app differ from employees to managers, and include the following: Employees can... View assigned shifts Sign in and out to log time sheets Select or trade shifts Apply for leave Managers can... Assign, edit, and view shifts to employees Check availability of team members based on leave Accept/reject employee leave Shiftboard schedules shifts in an online calendar that can be viewed by other employees across your company. Pricing: From $1 per user. Deputy Deputy for iOS helps manage employee shifts, process timesheets, handle payroll, and much more. Your employees' leave requests can be assigned and approved from your iPhone or iPad, to avoid the risk of changing the shift of some else who may not be available. Deputy integrates with POS and payroll software to increase rostering efficiency. The app loads data in real-time so that you can assign extra shifts to cover busier periods. Deputy allows you to: Assign rosters to employees based on their availability as they can accept or reject a roster. Monitor shift timings directly from your iPhone to check check-in and check-out time of employees. Approve and assign shift swaps and shift drops. Deputy helps your employees to plan their day accordingly when they receive notification on the shift timings and reach office on time. Pricing: From $2 per user per month. Training Training management software helps employees gain new skills and get certified for their expertise. iOS apps can help you measure the skill level of an employee when they complete a training through tests and quizzes. You can also assign training through the software based on the improvement areas you've identified for your employees. Here are two iOS-based software to help you analyze the skill level of your employees. Litmos LMS Litmos LMS for iPhone and iPad helps your employees view and complete eLearning courses while managing other HR projects. Employees can quickly search for courses and complete training certifications based on their training goals. The app's intuitive user interface helps your employees easily browse through course content, assignments, and tests. Features of the software include the ability to: Select eLearning courses based on skill requirements. View and complete courses from your iPhone, iPad or desktop computer, while saving course progress. Search for courses through keywords and filters to quickly complete quiz and assignments Pricing: From $3 per user per month. Docebo - Mobile LMS The Docebo app lets your employees browse through eLearning content on their iPad or iPhone. They can use it to assess learning milestones, complete quizzes, surveys, and tests. Key features of the iOS app include functions to help you: Manage training plans by editing and submitting courses. Assign and create courses based on an employee's skill set. View and download points and badges when a training is completed. Users can track completion of courses from their iOS device and earn reward points through the app's dashboard. Pricing: From $390 per month. Employee Engagement Employee engagement apps help to monitor performance and enhance productivity among team members. The iOS app automate communication among team members and boosts productivity through gamification and leaderboards features. Two iOS apps that are widely used to increase employee engagement in your company as listed below. Jostle Jostle's iOS app integrates with the enterprise version of the software to host your company's social intranet. By creating employee profiles on your social intranet, the iOS app increases employee engagement and internal communication as employees can view your profile and engage in discussions, similar to Facebook and Google Plus. Features of the app include the ability to: Edit status updates Search employees based on skill, location, name, and role View contact details of employees to start a discussion Jostle's iOS app helps employees to collaborate remotely colleagues on their contact list. You can also edit and upload your company's latest news on the app. Pricing: From $5.95 per user per month. Spinify The Spinify app for iPhone and iPad app engages employees through leaderboards. Leaderboards help to increase employee engagement in competitive learning-based games to increase performance. The app utilizes enhanced data analytics, gamification techniques, and motivational psychology to create leaderboards to enhance employees performance feedback. The leaderboards act as a benchmark for employees to find out if their performance is on track. Features of the iOS app include: Leaderboards that automate performance data to focus on areas of improvement and chose the right eLearning course Real time dashboard display of leaderboard data to compare performance of team members Pricing: From $4 per user per month.

The Best Free or Open Source Project Management Tools for Remote Teams

By Lauren Maffeo, 11 July 2017

The world is truly going global: a Gallup survey released earlier this year found that 43 percent of Americans said they worked remotely at least some of the time last year. A rise in flex hours, work-from-home policies, and use of cloud-based collaboration tools all enhance this growing trend. (more…)

No more spreadsheets: alternatives to Excel for payroll to pay your workers on time

By Karen McCandless, 11 July 2017

Most people don't work for a startup or small business for the outstanding compensation package, but everybody needs to eat and expects to be paid the correct amount on time. Excel may be able to do complex calculations, but do you really trust it for something as important as your payroll? Speed, accuracy and complying with regulations - just more reasons to ditch the spreadsheet and invest in payroll software. Here we propose some leading alternatives to Excel for payroll that can give you all that, and more. For the first section, we've selected apps where reviewers have mentioned their viability as Excel alternatives or noted that they've moved away spreadsheets. In the second selection, we've included payroll software that is well rated by GetApp reviewers. The apps are arranged alphabetically. Reviewers' alternatives to Excel for payroll Below we've listed which alternatives to Excel for payroll GetApp users have moved to after ditching their spreadsheets. Namely Excel isn't right for your payroll, and it certainly can't help you manage all your HR processes. That's where Namely, an all-in-one payroll, general HR, and benefits solution that can scale with any growing business, comes in. Features Namely's key features for payroll include: HR and payroll data sync Automatic benefits deduction Employee self-service portal Time tracking integration Payroll reporting Compliance and ACA reporting. User reviews One GetApp reviewer choose Namely as an alternative to Excel for payroll due to its user interface and customizations. “I used to dread doing payroll, because the system we were using was not user friendly and extremely time consuming and cumbersome. Now, with Namely, I can input information into the HRIS system, and it feeds right over into Payroll; so no more double entering! Namely does not look like a typical boring old spreadsheet. The system is easy to read, with nice use of color, and some areas even customizable w/ our own graphics and pictures. It's nice to work in software with some personality." Patriot Payroll Patriot Payroll is a simple yet effective payroll solution for small businesses, which also offers add-ons for HR, time and attendance, and accounting. It's a viable alternative to Excel for payroll due to its ease of use and the speed at which you can get up and running on it Features Patriot Payroll's key features include: Employee portal Free direct debit deposit Ability to file state, federal, and local taxes File W2s and W3s. User reviews GetApp user Jennifer Hay says: “We were still doing payroll on Excel spreadsheets and just needed an easier way to keep records. This is exactly what we needed! So glad for the Basic Payroll so that we can still file our own taxes...but the option is there for upgrade if we want Patriot to do them for us. Very reasonably priced services...very pleased!" Payroll Mate Payroll Mate is an easy-to-use payroll solution that integrates with accounting software. The downside is that it is only available in five states in the US: Florida, New York, Texas, Illinois, and California. Features Payroll Mate's key features include: Automatically calculates federal and state payroll taxes Exports payroll data to accounting software such as Quickbooks and Quicken Ability to set different pay frequencies, such as weekly or monthly Create payroll reports. Calculates Medicare and social security contributions Ability to print key forms including 941, 940, 944, W-2 and W-3. User reviews One reviewer says: “It is a huge time savings to use Payroll Mate over the Excel-based system I used to use, and the margin for error is greatly reduced since I only have to enter the hours once and not worry about entering all the payroll information in several places for summarizing for taxes. Now when it comes time to pay or file the payroll taxes, it's all in the system." UltiPro Ultimate Software's UltiPro solution provides both HR and payroll functionality from within the same app - so you can save money forking out for two different pieces of software. It's an Excel alternative for payroll that's aimed at businesses in the US and Canada. Features Some of UltiPro's key payroll features include: Retrieve time and attendance data for payroll processing automatically Calculate and track retroactive pay Create direct deposit files, paychecks, and direct deposit advices for American and Canadian banks Issue off-cycle pay checks Void payments instantly. User reviews Jeff Hyde, search engine advisor at Google, says: “I have used a number of products to manage employee payroll in the past. Earlier last year I used Google docs to manage payroll and was managing it in various google spreadsheet tab. It was a pain to work manually on different employee data. After I started using UltiPro, things become easier and automated. It has helped in a number of ways." Top rated payroll software To help you make a decision, we've also included apps that are among the top rated apps by GetApp users. We only include apps with more than 100 reviews. APS Online Rated 4.5 out of 5 from almost 200 reviews, APS Online combines payroll with HR and workforce management functionality. It's a top pick for one of GetApp's alternatives to Excel for payroll due to its ability to ensure that payroll records are compliant and to be customized for different incomes, deductions, accrual plans, and departments. Features Some of APS Online's key payroll features include: Real-time reporting Self-service employee portal Year-end processing Direct deposit and pay cards Paycheck reconciliation Tax rate overrides for supplemental pay. User reviews GetApp reviewer Ben Patterson says: “We have worked with several different payroll companies in the past and were always looking for something that was less complicated. APS works great. The site and layout is simple to use and easy to navigate. Being able to direct import our payroll information and review it makes completing payroll simple and less time consuming. We still have all of the other information and reports provided from other companies, but without the headache." Gusto Gusto provides payroll, HR, benefits, and tax processing features. It has a rating of 4.75 out of 5 from almost 150 reviews, with its pricing and mobile apps being particularly popular with reviewers. Features Some of Gusto's key features include: Automatic filing of state and federal taxes Employee self-onboarding Integrates with accounting software Off-cycle payroll Multiple pay schedules Payroll for permanent employees, as well as contractors Vacation, leave, and illness tracking User reviews GetApp reviewer Maire Hina Bavarday, owner at Relay Shop USA, describes Gusto as the best payroll app ever. She says that Gusto is: “A very complete platform for payroll, the best function is the self on boarding when hiring a new person. All you need is their name and email address and Gusto does the rest! They also make sure your business is HR compliant." Which alternatives to Excel for payroll would you recommend? Let us know which alternatives to Excel for payroll you would recommend in the comments below or by emailing me on If you'd like more information or are ready to make a purchase, we have some resources that can help: A list of payroll apps rated four stars and above on GetApp Payroll apps for small businesses of 1-50 employees Payroll apps with free trials.

Google Apps vs Office 365 vs Zoho Docs: comparing productivity apps for small businesses

By Karen McCandless, 7 July 2017

Long gone are the days when all you could do within your office suite was format some words, do some simple calculations, and add a few bullet points to your (probably fairly dry) presentation. There are now some nifty collaboration and productivity apps out there - and as they all have a cloud-element and can be used across mobile devices, they're perfect for today's globally dispersed, always-on workforce. We've taken a look at three of the leaders on the market to take the pain out of choosing the right cloud office application for your business. Here is our comparison of Microsoft Office 365 vs G Suite vs Zoho Docs. Just to note: we’ll be mainly using the Office 365 for Business plan in this comparison (in terms of features), but there are other plans for enterprises and educational institutes. We’ll also focus on Google’s G Suite Business plan. In addition, the review information used comes from not just GetApp, but also its sister sites Software Advice and Capterra. The comparison points we’ll look at are: Pricing Who it is for Features, Mobile apps Integrations Set up Customer support Pricing Let's start off by looking at the bottom line for all businesses: cost. Just to clarify: all the apps offer free version for home users, but if you're looking for more business-ready features, you'll probably want to invest in a monthly or annual subscription. G Suite G Suite currently offers two plans for businesses, the Basic costs $5 per user per month, while Business comes in at $10 per user per month. Enterprise plans are available on request. Monthly billing is the only option available, and you can add and remove users anytime. Google previously offered a free version to small businesses, but this is no longer the case. You can get a free trial for 14 days, although a credit card is necessary. Office 365 Microsoft offers a plethora of different pricing plans for businesses, with possibly the biggest task being to choose which one is right for you. The standard Office 365 Business plan is $8.25 per user per month if billed annually or $10 per user per month if paid monthly. There is also a Office 365 Business Essentials plan for small businesses, which is $5 per user per month if paid annually, and $6 per user per month if paid monthly. It can get complicated as reviewer Serge Simard notes: “Took me a while to purchase as licensing can get pretty complex. Of course, E3/E5 licenses if you go in that direction are great and include everything. But for smaller companies (less budget), Business Premium and Pro Plus licenses have to be planned well as there are restrictions for Shared Computer (Remote Desktop).” Office 365 Business also comes with a 30-day free trial, with no credit card needed to sign up. You can also upgrade plans within the app, although no information is available on how to downgrade your plan. Zoho Docs Zoho Docs is the most affordable of the apps and follows a freemium model, with a free plan for teams of up to 25 users and limited features. This then increases to €5 /$5 per user per month for the Standard plan and €8/$8 per user per month for the Premium version. There is a 15 day free trial with no credit card required. Who is it for? Depending on the size of your business - whether you're a freelancer, a small business, or an enterprise - some office suites are more suitable for others. It's also worth checking out the feature comparisons for Google Apps for Work, Office 365 for Business, and Zoho Doc so you can understand exactly what features each pricing tier offers. G Suite As a much newer entrant in the market, Google offers more streamlined pricing plans for business. As G suite sticks to main two plans (with the enterprise options), it's a good option for small businesses that don't want the headache of wading through a wide range of price plans and features, especially for those with employees that are already familiar with Google products from personal use. The enterprise version has still yet to take off, with Gartner analyst Joe Mariano putting this down to the larger businesses’ reliance on the Microsoft stack in other areas of their company, and the problems with integrations and customizations this would bring. Office 365 With a wide range of options and pricing plans (as well as the ability to pay monthly and annually), Microsoft's cloud software is suitable for businesses of any size. The fact that it offers on-premise apps in addition to its cloud products makes it an attractive proposition. Zoho Docs Zoho Docs is quite an attractive prospect for small businesses, given that its free for up to 25 users, with the added fact that all the company's products are designed with small businesses in mind. All versions include the Zoho Office Suite, which is comprised of Zoho Writer, Zoho Sheets, and Zoho Show. Saying that, the free version does feel a touch light on features, especially given there is no integrated email. Features Office 365, G Suite, and Zoho Docs (to a lesser extent) are similar products with similar features, so let’s take a look at what makes each product stand out (or fail) in this area. G Suite Google has already released a roadmap for its G Suite feature updates in 2017. Some of the most significant include Gmail smart reply, which automated common responses to emails, which are customized based on your history (already available). Hangouts Meet is also getting new features, including in-call text messaging, a record to Google Drive feature, and 50-person meetings. Swapnil Desai, growth hacker at Zelican Infotech (a SaaS company), says this of G Suite’s features: “You get all of the great advantages of Gmail such as their sweet SPAM filter and their accurate search function to easily find archived email. Sharing is everywhere. You can make changes to a Google doc at the same time that a co-worker is making changes to it. Also, the shared calendar is a beautiful thing.” Office 365 As per many of its cloud-based products, Microsoft provides monthly updates to its Office 365 suite. Some notable recent enhancements include an intelligent task management app called To-Do, as well as add-ons for Outlook, with the ability to create tasks with Wunderlist (now a Microsoft product) and track email responses with Boomerang. There have also been two new products announced within Office 365 this year: Microsoft Bookings, which is a customizable web page that allows your customers to find available times and book appointments. Outlook Customer Manager (available free of cost for the Office 365 Business Premium plan), which type of CRM for small businesses that lets you see your customers interactions, tasks, and deals in one place. Zoho Docs Zoho Docs isn’t the most fully featured of the three apps and isn’t currently competing at the same level as Microsoft and Google, but what it lacks in features it makes up for in ease of use (as well as price). Here a few nifty features that Zoho Docs offers: Access Stats, which let you see how many people have viewed a document you shared The ability to transfer document ownership. Email in feature, which allows you to send documents from your scanner to your Zoho Docs account without signing in. Group sharing, where you can create a group alias and share documents with just the people who are members. However, one area where it seems to be lacking is its storage space - with reviewers stating that 1GB for the free plan is not enough for small businesses. Upgrades to the Standard and Premium plans come with more space. Integrations As we mentioned earlier, enterprises’ reliance on Microsoft products is a major factor for their continued use of Office 365, but what about for small businesses and startups that don’t have these ? How well do G Suite, Office 365 and Zoho Docs do in the overall integrations landscape? G Suite You'll be hard pushed to find apps these days that don't claim to integrate with G Suite, even Zoho Docs mentions it as one of its major selling points. While - unlike the other two software companies in this list - Google doesn't have a large suite of other business applications, it integrates with the most common CRM, productivity, marketing, HR, and customer service software. Major examples include Asana, Xero, Fresdesk, and Slack. Office 365 One of Microsoft's major selling points is how seamlessly its products work together and how wide a range of solutions it offers in the cloud. From customer service software, to CRM to web design, to IT management, it has a lot to offer. It also integrates with the same wide range of apps as G Suite. But if you're looking outside the Microsoft family, the Office 365 API makes integration easy. Jonathan Jarvis, Owner of Jarvis Technologies, says: “Having access to full versions of office software that integrate with the online offerings is worth the price by itself. Add in the dozen or so other apps from CRM to Analytics and you have unprecedented value.” Zoho Docs Microsoft may have its own integrated app ecosystem, but so does Zoho (albeit not such a high profile one). The company offers a plethora of other useful sister products, including Zoho CRM, Zoho Support, Zoho Reports, Zoho Projects, and many more. It also has a couple of APIs to aid future integration. Mobile apps Any cloud app worth its salt these days has a mobile app. Being able to see that spreadsheet on your phone and edit your word document on your tablet is key for today's mobile workforce. G Suite Google offers fully featured and well-developed apps for its Android platform, with separate apps for Docs, Sheets, Drive, Gmail, Calendar, etc. It also offers the same apps for iOS, with the exception of its Contacts app, and its Cloud Search offering, which allows you to search across all Google apps. The reviews are an average of four stars (out of five) across both platforms. Windows Phone and Blackberry users can access G Suite on their mobile browser. Office 365 Like Google, Microsoft offers separate mobile apps for each of its Office 365 office suite products to Android, iPhone, and Windows Phone users. These apps include premium features such as track changes, changing page orientation, adding picture effects, inserting and modifying chart elements, using Pivot Tables, and audio/video editing. Just as a reminder of how comprehensive the Office 365 for Business is, the mobile apps not only include the normal Office suite apps, they also extend to SharePoint, Dropbox for Business, and OneDrive for Business. Zoho Docs Zoho Docs offers both an Android and iPhone app, as well as an extension for Chrome. The apps have received mixed reviews across both the Google Play and App Store, but are regularly updated. Set up G Suite G Suite gets the thumbs up from GetApp reviewers for its ease of setup and speed in getting up and running. Salesforce analyst Bartley Doyle says: “there are no negative elements to GSuite, it has everything needed, certainly it’s worth trying out as it so easy to set up Office 365 Once you’ve got over the headache of picking a license, it’s on to the setup, which isn’t plain sailing with Office 365, especially if you need help from Microsoft. Jonathan Jarvis, Owner of Jarvis Technologies, says: “It can be difficult to set up on your own and you may want to hire someone to help with that as you are dealing with Microsoft you have that notorious tech support ego to contend with.” Another reviewer comments: “It would be very helpful to have how-to videos explaining how to correctly set up Office 365 and Exchange. Some pre-emptive how-to info would likely have saved me a lot of time spent with support.” Zoho Docs Simplicity and straightforwardness are what makes Zoho Docs stand out and its set up is no different. One reviewer describes Zoho Docs as: “easy to set up and very straightforward. There is not a big learning curve to use the product as there are with similar products.” Customer support Implementing and setting up a product is only half the battle-- ironing out any post implementation issues is crucial to ensuring the full adoption of any product. And to do that you will likely need support from a customer service team. G Suite G Suite’s customer support is one area which lets it down according to reviews across GetApp, and its sister sites Software Advice and Capterra. Business owner Jeff Ryan cites its “Lack of solid phone support”, while Ryan Hart, MBA, director of Marketing at Verified First, says: “Google does not have very good support, can never get them on the phone.” However, Salesforce analyst Bartley Doyle says G Suite is: “easy to use and great support with a friendly service. Anytime I've had an issue I've always been able to get an answer within minutes.” Office 365 Office 365 gets mixed reviews for its customer support from GetApp users. Reviewer Victoria Anniston says Microsoft has: “Poor Customer support” while James Smith, Infrastructure Analyst at Defaqto says: “Support still has a lot to be desired. Whether a business or a public user you both go into the same pot with Microsoft so don't expect enterprise support unless you’re prepared to pay them for it.” However reviewer Dan Reiland says that Microsoft offers: “excellent mobile and web client support” Zoho Docs Maybe due to the size of the company, Zoho comes out on top in terms of customer support across GetApp reviewers. Reviewer Ramin Sultanov says: “Price is reasonable, awesome features which are better than Google Docs in some cases, and of course customer service is helpful.” G Suite vs Office 365 vs Zoho Docs: which of these productivity apps gets your vote? After carrying out the analysis of G Suite vs Office 365 vs Zoho Docs, it seems that Office 365 is the most regularly updated with the most features, however choosing a license and set up is where the challenge comes in. G Suite has more streamlined licensing and its cloud-first and collaborative approach make it an attractive prospect. Zoho Docs isn’t the most fully featured, but the fact that it offers a raft of features within a free pricing plan makes it attractive for freelancers, solopreneurs and small businesses on a budget. Its ecosystem is also a plus point. Which app do you recommend? Let us know in the comments below or by emailing For more information, check out: An analysis of whether your small business should upgrade to G Suite A feature comparison of G Suite, Office 365, and Zoho Docs This article was first published in January 2013 and has been updated.  

4 rock-solid alternatives to Excel for construction templates

By Suzie Blaszkiewicz, 6 July 2017

Construction templates for Excel may be useful, but there comes a time when using a spreadsheet just won't cut it for your complex construction scheduling and planning needs. If you're looking to upgrade from using a jumble of construction templates to investing in proper construction management software, you may be surprised at how quickly and easily you can make the transition. (more…)