Web applications for business have come a long way. They used to be poor imitations of their desktop counterparts, with only one or two functions and not at all practical. But my, have these apps grown. Today’s SaaS business and CRM apps have become so powerful and useful that in many cases, they’ve begun to replace traditional desktop software such as Microsoft Dynamics, Sage, SAP, etc.
Desktop apps are great and all, but they don’t provide the same benefits as business apps that make use of cloud computing. With most SaaS apps, you only need a browser and an internet connection to access all your data online. That beats having to install annoying programs any day and gives you much more flexibility when working in teams. Cloud business apps have the added advantage of integrating with each other, so you can hook all your systems together.
To give you a better sense of how useful web apps have become, I’ve compiled a list of 15 of the best business apps and CRM tools that can replace some of the desktop business software you use. I hope you take the time to try them all out. You’ll be surprised how well they work.
Without further ado, here are some great web alternatives to the popular desktop business applications.
Insightly is a nifty CRM tool for small businesses to manage leads, contacts, organizations, partners, vendors and suppliers. Insightly allows you to see everything about a lead or a contact such as their background, email history and important dates, opportunities, and projects they have participated in. With an integrated project manager, Insightly is several applications in one for all your customer management needs.
Freshdesk is an efficient customer service management application that features a collaborative shared inbox, automatic ticket creation in your helpdesk and the ability to categorize, prioritize, and assign tickets to your team. This transparent approach to customer service makes sure that two agents are never working on the same issue at the same time and ensures tickets get solved quicker, thus increasing customer satisfaction.
Salesforce is one of the most widely-used CRM applications in the world and covers everything a big business needs to improve efficiency and customer satisfaction. Salesforce is packed with powerful features that are geared towards helping you discover more high quality leads, automating your sales process and even simulate deals and outcomes before taking the plunge on a major contract.
Zendesk is all about bringing harmony to your help desk and is designed to streamline your customer support system with neat features like ticket views, triggers, and automations – all of which improve the efficiency of your operation. If you really want good relations with your customers, then Zendesk is an excellent choice since it ensures that your communications with customers and their data are always at your fingertips.
Wrike is all about better project management and getting an idea from paper to production as quickly as possible. Wrike is powerful but easy to use allowing you to organize projects logically and efficiently. You can breakdown large goals into manageable pieces and then label, attach files, set due dates, track progress and track the contribution individual members are making so that you can make better use of your team resources.
Zoho CRM focuses on maximizing sales and customer satisfaction by engaging and communicating with customers via email, phone, chat and social networks all from within the same CRM dashboard. Zoho is very open to other apps too though and allows you to integrate your CRM account with other applications to create a customized solution for your business. In particular, Zoho is fully integrated with Google Apps so if you like to make use of Google products, it’s definitely worth looking at.
Desk.com is a small business solution that’s now a part of Salesforce. Desk.com is a customer service-focused CRM app that tries to help customers solve issues themselves before resorting to personalized solutions. Desk.com helps customers find answers themselves or check the status of their ticket. Integration with Salesforce means that sales information can be integrated with customer service to help provide a better level of support.
Mavenlink is an online project management solution that’s designed to integrate with multiple other platforms to extend its functionality. Mavenlink integrates with platforms such as Google, Salesforce, JIRA, NetSuite, and more. Mavenlink uses a Gantt timeline to schedule and monitor projects and provides several templates to help structure your first few projects.
FreshBooks is a cloud-based accounting system that takes care of the financial side of your business. If you don’t want to contract your accounting to a third party, FreshBooks makes it remarkably easy to do everything yourself without expensive accounting software. FreshBooks allows you to easily create, send & track professional invoices, and even allows you to accept payments via credit cards.
Infusionsoft is aimed strictly at small businesses and was created to help users get organized, grow sales, and save time. Infusionsoft features everything from a powerful CRM to email marketing, eCommerce and sales tracking tools – all in one place. Infusionsoft gives you a convenient overview of each tool in one dashboard and shows you at a glance your most important upcoming appointments.
NetSuite is a highly professional CRM and ERP tool which provides a unified business management suite. It encompasses ERP/financials, CRM and eCommerce and is a perfect replacement for those using tools such as QuickBooks, Microsoft Dynamics, Sage, SAP and other business systems. NetSuite is one of the fastest growing ERP/CRM solutions out there and is now used by companies such as GoPro and Williams-Sonoma.
Pipedrive is a sales CRM for small teams that strives to always give you a crystal clear overview of your sales pipeline. PipeDrive is considerably more effective than any list and in the pipeline view, deals are displayed by your different sales stages. This helps to clearly show how your team is doing and helps you focus on the right deals if an extra push is needed. If you need a straightforward real-time overview of your sales pipeline, Pipedrive may be for you.
JIRA is a project planning and management application that brings structure and logic to your workflow. JIRA makes it easy for large teams to collaborate on projects by logging tasks, tickets, and other issues – and to assign them priorities. You can attach files and other data to help solve issues quickly and restrict who can and can’t see tasks. For large organizations, JIRA is a very effective project management tool.
Slack is all about improving communication in large teams and provides a continually growing archive of chats, exchanges and other essential conversations related to your business. Slack automatically indexes messages, notifications and files so that you can have it at your fingertips. Slack even allows you to search within PDFs, Word, Google docs and other document types, to help you put your finger on that essential message or document that you need to refer to in a hurry.
eXo Platform is a business collaboration tool that includes a very capable content management system. eXo is based around a social dimension that provides a platform to bring together companies both big or small. eXo Platform is open source and so you can plug it into several other major business applications to extend its functionality and improve efficiency, communication and productivity in your enterprise.
As the world turns to cloud computing, we’re only going to see more and more business and CRM web apps that function like their desktop counterparts. I’ve only listed a few but there are many more out there. As these applications become more powerful and appeal to the masses in terms of functionality, we may soon see a decline in desktop programs as we all move towards the web and the cloud. Is this the end of desktop CRM software? Who knows, we’ll have to wait and see.
Do you use any CRM web apps in place of desktop programs? What do you think is going to be the future for desktop CRM programs? Share your comments below!