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How We Use Cloud Software – simPRO CEO Brad Couper

28c1dfbFor the second instalment of our ‘How They Work’ series, we spoke to Brad Couper of simPRO.

What does the tech-smart CEO really think about the cloud? And what productivity app has changed Brad’s life so dramatically he purchased a lifetime subscription? Read on to discover his insider secrets…

Who are you and what do you do?

I’m the CEO of the simPRO Group. We’re a software business with 100 staff in three countries, building, selling, training and supporting fully operational cloud-based workflow solutions for the Field Services sector.

Our clients are businesses in an office environment, as well as field work teams onsite doing installations, service and break down repairs, planned maintenance and asset testing. Our customised workflow solutions are used for field service deployments for as many as 3000 workers.

A typical day sees me collaborating with staff in Australia, New Zealand and the UK. This involves a range of different communication methods from phone calls, emails, shared docs and project boards.

What software do you use to manage your emails, contacts and calendar?

CRM & Business Management – simPRO Enterprise
Email – Google Apps with ActiveInbox
Calendar – Google Apps
Office Suite – Google Apps and DropBox
Project Collaboration – Trello
Travel Management – Tripit for Teams
Note Taking – Samsung S Note (for electronic note taking on my phone) and Evernote (including my Evernote moleskin note book)
Remote Meetings – Google Hangout, Go To Meeting, Go To Training and Skype.
HR – EnableHR
Accounting – Xero & Gem Accounts
Help Desk – Kayako
Feature Request System – UserVoice

Do you run a CRM, and if so, what is this?

At simPRO we don’t run any installed software, with the exception of a few people who run MS Office in addition to Google Drive. We therefore don’t have a standalone CRM, but instead use the functionality of simPRO Enterprise to manage this side of our business.

What’s your best software advice for running your job role day-to-day (tasks, to-do’s, follow ups etc)?

Cloud is second nature at simPRO because it’s what we do – all the software we build is cloud-based and has been since 1999 (before the cloud existed as we know it today). So from email to project management, all our business tools are in the cloud. As a result, I often take for granted the benefits of working in the cloud and find it hard to understand why companies are resistant to the change.

What’s the biggest advantage of cloud software for you in your role?

For me, the biggest advantage is simplicity of use. We only have 1 server in the office that primarily hosts large files for the marketing team, but everything else is cloud-based. That means we have minimal need for IT support in-house, and I can work across any device from any place at anytime.

I use a desktop iMac in the office, an 11″ MacBook Air for travel, a 17″ Dell laptop at home and my Phablet – the amazing Samsung Galaxy Note 3 for everything else. I can access everything I work on from any device, and every application is synced. So I can use Trello in the office and continue the project on my Galaxy Note when I’m waiting to go into a meeting.

During meetings I use my Galaxy Note with S Note for notes, thoughts and action items. These sync with my Evernote account into a searchable format for later use.

What one piece of advice would you offer someone who’s never used cloud software?

My advice would be to just get in and explore the options. The benefits in productivity gains alone should be enough to convince, but the cost savings are a compelling argument too. Don’t be afraid of cloud – it is simply a way in which the data you use is centrally stored. Security is far greater with a good cloud provider than it is in your own office or employee laptops. If organisations like the CIA can move their data to the cloud, and Woolworths can move their 200,000 employees to Gmail, then why would it be an issue for your business?

What other productivity tips do you have (software or otherwise)?

Ensure the applications you use run on multiple operating systems, at least iOS and Android for mobile. With Windows 8 gaining momentum, it would make sense to consider that too.

When looking at apps, it’s important not to be constantly on the hunt for a better one. I’ve seen people waste inordinate amounts of time switching from one task app to another because it seems a little bit better. Look at a few options, trial them and then choose one. When you’ve made the choice, just get on and use it! A consistent approach to workflow and record keeping is much more effective than chopping and changing across multiple apps.

I strongly recommend to anyone using Gmail to get ActiveInbox to manage email. It’s an extraordinarily good plug in for Gmail (only on Chrome or Firefox) that helps you sort mail, group related emails into tasks or projects, set reminder dates and best of all, add notes to an email. Effectively, ActiveInbox allows you to make any email a task, and creates transparency over what’s due today, or what you’re `Waiting On’ so you can follow up your direct reports. It follows the basic principles of David Allen’s Getting Things Done (GTD). If you’re an `Inbox Zero’ type of person, this will change your life – I bought a lifetime subscription when 20 recently became available!

Thanks Brad for your insights! There is plenty of valuable advice here for anyone looking to increase their effectiveness and boost their productivity. If you’re not in the cloud – no excuses. Get to it.

Watch out for the next instalment of the “How They Work” series. And if you haven’t already, follow us on Twitter @ociusdigital.