Cloud-based applications have become quite popular over the past few years. This can be attributed to the fact that everyone seems to be going mobile, opting to use smartphones and always-connected devices like tablets or laptops.
While there are some valid concerns when it comes to cloud-based documents and applications – particularly regarding security – the benefits far outweigh the risks.
Cloud-based apps allow you to be much more productive and mobile, because you can access the content stored through them from anywhere. For instance, you could begin working on a sales proposal at work, save the document and then open it back up and continue working from your home office. All of this can be done seamlessly from the same Web application or URL.
In addition, cloud-based apps are great collaboration tools when you’re working with colleagues or a team of individuals. Everyone can make changes and edits while the document remains completely accessible to the entire team.
Not to mention, many of the cloud-based tools we’re talking about – such as Google Drive, Dropbox or similar platforms – are free to use or remarkably cost-effective when they do require a subscription.
Here are some of the best cloud-based tools that you can use to become a more productive worker.
Asana is an incredibly powerful project-management tool with a variety of collaborative features. It’s free to use, so everyone on your team can jump in.
You can create projects, tasks and even subtasks, and everything can be separated into departments. This enables you to assign projects to each one of your teams. Realtime notifications allow you to track what everyone is doing, like when they complete a task or ask a question about an assignment.
For every entry, there’s an inline comments system similar to social networks. This enables teammates to converse with one another.
Clockspot is a cloud-based tracking tool that can be used to monitor a group of employees no matter where they are. It’s essentially a clock-in and clock-out system that can be accessed from the Internet. It’s ideal for teams that are always on the move.
Like a payroll system, Clockspot keeps track of vacation time, sick days, holidays and can even display an employee’s accrued time off. The system can also be used to track overtime hours, various costs and revenues, and payroll balance.
The system is used by a lot of big companies such as Starbucks, McDonalds and Coca Cola.
One of the biggest benefits of Dropbox is that you can install a desktop application on all your computers and set up the platform so it syncs your content automatically. Google Drive does not natively support such a feature, despite the fact that it is used by just as many folks for storing and creating documents.
SyncDocs solves that problem, allowing you to keep your Google Docs account synchronized across all of your computers. You specify folders that you’d like the application to monitor and any changes made are stored in the cloud. Once your accounts are synched, you can open documents and files without Internet access.
The free version of the program will only synchronize a limited number of files. For $19.95 a year you can synchronize an unlimited number of files up to 5GB. If you need more space than that, you can upgrade later.
Cloud Save is an extremely useful tool that works with a variety of cloud storage platforms including Google Docs, Dropbox, Amazon, Box.net, SugarSync, Facebook, Flickr and several others. It’s actually an extension for the Google Chrome browser that allows you to save files right to your preferred cloud storage account.
Instead of downloading items you need to upload to your local storage before synching it with your cloud account, you just send it off. Simply right click on the file you want to upload and choose the option to send it to your cloud storage account.
The extension is free to download and install and free to use. It’s compatible with cloud storage services that work with Google Chrome.
If you’re just working with simple documents and files, then platforms like Dropbox and Google Drive will work just fine. What about when you want more advanced support? Imagine taking your entire desktop with you on the go, and being able to access it from anywhere.
ZeroPC can do just that. It’s like taking your home or work computer and sending the whole thing to the cloud. You gain access to preinstalled apps like a file manager, Web browser, sticky notes, universal inbox and notifications, and a bulk file uploader.
With a free account you also get a maximum of 39GB of cloud storage support through connected services and 1GB with ZeroPC. A basic account at $2.99 a month raises that 1GB cap to 5GB, and a pro account for $9.99 a month raises it to 50GB.
Zoho is a lot like Dropbox, Google Apps and Microsoft Office 365 in that it offers a whole slew of cloud-based apps that can be used with documents stored in your account. You’ll get access to tools for sales and marketing, email and collaboration, finance, human resources and more.
You’ll need to pay subscription fees for each of the different application tiers if you want access to additional items. However, with the basic Zoho Mail account you gain access to the calendar, email, contacts, tasks, notes and documents apps.
Cyn.in is an open-source collaboration tool that works like more of a social network of sorts. It’s been built on the existing Plone content management platform. You have access to blogs, wikis, file repositories, forums, multimedia galleries, event calendars and much more. It’s like WordPress on steroids, and with much more support than just content creation and media sharing.
The entire platform is customizable and it can be used by multiple team members. The social aspect comes into play because users can publish status messages, interact with one another through online discussions, vote and rate content and even view, edit and react to user profiles.
There are several versions of the platform available with different price points for each.
Similar to Asana, Comapping is a team-oriented collaboration tool. The biggest difference is that it’s meant to be used for collaborative work and projects as opposed to time and user management. You can upload files and documents to the system, and collaborate on said files with the rest of your team in real time.
A unique flowchart system allows you and your team to brainstorm before jumping into work, and you can leave notes and messages to one another if need be. Up to 20 people can be working on a single project at a time.
Plans start at five-user licenses for $92 per year and max out at 100-user licenses for $612 per year.
With these tools in mind, make the most of this work week. Using these and other cloud-based solutions, a productive work day is easier to achieve than ever before.
Image by StartupStockPhotos
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