Friday, January 03, 2014

Need Free Flowdock Alternative?

Chances are, unless you are a geek, you’ve never heard of Flowdock. It never left programmer-coder-technophile ghetto, so to speak. And, despite being recently acquired by Rally Software, it probably never will. Why? Quite simply, there are free alternatives (Bitrix24 is not the only one) that  provide a lot more tools for effective teamwork that are either 100% free, have better free plan or have a flat fee unlimited user pricing. In my opinion, Bitrix24 is the best  free Flowdock alternative, so let’s dive into it for a brief introduction or review.

Bitrix24 is free for 12 users. You also get 5 GB worth of disk space free. There are two paid plans available, both come with unlimited users. In addition to using Bitrix24 in a cloud, you can host it on your own server. The self-hosted version come with API and source code, so you can modify it as you see necessary.

Bitrix24 communication tools are quite a bit more advanced than Flowdock, which is limited to team inbox and groupchat. Bitrix24 has both, but because it comes with an activity stream, it can be used as intranet or private social network too.

There are several collaboration tools available in Bitrix24. You can use shared calendars (private calendars are available as well). You can use file sharing to share documents (including with people outside your network). Moreover, Bitrix24 comes with a fully functioning online document management with all the standard features – online multiuser editing, document version history, Bitrix24.Drive (free Dropbox-like desktop client), network drive mapping, Google Docs integration, ability to work with documents without MS Office installed on your PC and so on.

Tasks and Projects:
This is probably one of the best modules in Bitrix24. Bitrix24 comes with an unlimited number of subtasks, so if you like nested projects, you’ll love this. Checklists, recurring tasks and task templates are available too. Projects in Bitrix24 are based on workgroups (which come with their own activity stream, files, wiki and discussion board). You can have extranet workgroups in order to work with people who don’t work for your company (freelancers, clients, consultants, vendors and so on). Make sure you chack out Employee Workload Planning and Time Management features.

Videocalls, videoconferencing, screensharing and web phone calls:
Videocalls, Videoconferencing and Screensharing are free in Bitrix24, because they are based on WebRTC. This means you don’t really need Skype or Lync. Web phone calls (making a phone call from your browser to any phone number in the world) are a paid option and are mostly used in CRM (yes, Bitrix24 has one and it’s free too).

Overall, Bitrix24 comes with over 35 tools. I don’t want to mention them all, because it’ll make Bitrix24 sound like a very complicated solution, which is not, but there are three that you should look into more closely – ticketing and helpdesk, eLearning module and HR tools.

Like I said, Bitrix24 IS NOT the only free Flowdock alternative. So if for some reason you don’t like Bitrix24 – you can find a lot of other Flowdock competitors that are worthy of investigation.
There is no shortage of Confluence competitors on the market but if I had to pick a single best free Confluence alternative, that would be Bitrix24 for sure. If you are not familiar, Bitrix24 is Confluence (team collaboration) plus Jira (Helpdesk and tickets) plus HipChat (enterprise mobile) plus Basecamp (project management) plus Dropbox (file sharing and doc management) plus Salesforce (CRM) plus Skype (web phone calls and videoconferencing) plus GoogleCalendars (shared calendars) and 35+ other odd tools (like human resources information system) – and all of that free for teams of up to 12 users. Pretty cool, ain’t it?
Atlassian is a great company and its products - be that Altassian Confluence or Jira or BitBucket - are rightfully praised. But these are products made by programmers for programmers and when it comes to ‘normal’ business (if there’s such a thing), Confluence frequently falls short.
So why do I  believe that Bitrix24 is best Confluence alternative other than the fact that it’s free and comes with so many tool?

First, it’s the fact that you have an option to use cloud service or the self-hosted version (that comes with the source code and API, by the way, so you can modify it as you see fit, if you have PHP programming skills). I hate when you are given cloud only option and are forced to pay every month. With Bitrix24 you can move from cloud to your own server any time you want.
Second is the fact that all the tools work out of the box. If you are familiar with Microsoft product line, try to imagine if you had to integrate SharePoint with Yammer for enterprise social with MS Project for PM with Lync for communications with Dynamics for CRM – that would take you at least a couple of days. With Bitrix24 everything works right away.

Finally – CRM. For some reason, there is not a single decent enterprise social network that comes with a CRM. Salesforce Chatter is as close as it gets. And while Salesforce is a great product, paying $60-$220 per single user is very, very expensive for an average small business. (The CRM in Bitrix24 is fully featured and comes with Invoicing, Mobile CRM, CRM activity stream, email marketing and other goodies – no limits on a number of contacts or any of that nonsense).
As far as disadvantages go, these rise from the fact that Bitrix24 in not IT centric – don’t expect integrations with BitBucket or GitHub. Bitrix24 can be used for bug tracking, but it probably shouldn’t be. Documentation is not as complete either. That said, you absolutely should try Bitrix24, because it will blow your mind (it did mine).
And if you think that there’s a better free Confluence alternative than Bitrix24, do let me know.

Source - Best Free Confluence Alternative

Risky Bet?

Tip of the day - Need company name? Try crowdsourcing

Steve Zerda's 25-year career in the airline industry followed a predictable flight path until, in 2010, he encountered a racehorse called Turbulent Descent. The horse's owners were selling stakes to investors -- while keeping a majority interest -- and the avid racing fan decided to buy in.

"What I saw was a unique business model, where the owner could spread the risk," says Zerda. "And I could participate, without spending a fortune."

A director overseeing aircraft-component maintenance at Alaska Airlines, Zerda had already decided to take early retirement later that year. His investment in Turbulent Descent gave him an idea for a new career: Buy yearlings, train them to run, then sell partnerships. After consulting trainers -- and confirming there were few syndicates for small-scale investors in Seattle -- he wrote a business plan. His first acquisition as Z Thoroughbred Racing was a colt called Harbor Wind for $10,000. (With purses at the nearby track capped at $100,000, he didn't want to be saddled with costly horses.) He then set to work revving up interest via word-of-mouth and a website, soliciting investors to buy stakes of at least 5%. The money he raises helps fund grooming, training, and care, which runs more than $25,000 a year per animal. With such high overhead, showing a profit requires winning races and, in the process, making horses appealing to breeders.

The risk is great, of course -- "you can buy any dumpy horse and lose your shirt fast," Zerda says -- but so is the potential reward. Harbor Wind raced 18 times in three years, earning over $50,000. Turbulent Descent won $900,000 before being sold for 12 times his original price. Today, Zerda owns six horses and has a 10% stake in another. Thanks to winning purses plus proceeds from three sales, Z Thoroughbred made a $45,000 profit last year. "I seem to be able to locate good value," says Zerda, who reinvested the earnings. "And I have a good time doing it."


$50,000: Capital Zerda used to launch the business
He determined that this amount -- from a deferred bonus he got when leaving his job -- would allow him to buy a horse a year for the first few years before he could bring in investors. (He has since sold 19 partnerships, with stakes from 5% to 20%.)

5 years : Period before quitting that he power-saved
As a result, he and his wife, Lisa, a director for a health insurer, have nearly $750,000 for retirement. The couple, who have two kids attending state colleges and a 15-year-old at home, are able to live on Steve's pension and Lisa's salary.

100%: Earnings he'll reinvest for the next few years
Zerda plans to forgo a salary -- he used to make $120,000 -- to grow the business. He'll continue buying yearlings, with hopes of selling them when they are around age 5, for three to five times what he paid. "Horses tend to retire once they've made $1 million," he says. "I'd like to position myself to follow that example."

[Via - CNNMoney]

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