Cloud Computing: 10 Ingenious Tools from Google Apps Marketplace
10 Ingenious Tools from Google Apps Marketplace
by Don Reisinger
MindMeister Mindmapping is a tool that helps users brainstorm on the Web. Users can start with just the merest kernel of an idea and then share the information with colleagues to gather their views on how to turn that idea into a working plan. With MindMeister Mindmapping users can later export all the compiled information to a Word document or PDF, and integrate into a live chat for everyone to discuss. Those looking to brainstorm with MindMeister Mindmapping will need to pay $9 per user per month or $90 per year for access to the service.
FreshBooks isn't a replacement for QuickBooks or other sophisticated business-accounting services, but it's certainly a viable alternative for small businessesparticularly Web businessesthat need basic accounting applications. The service allows users to bill and track invoices online, as well as manage all the daily tasks of accounting for business transactions. Users can even create invoices from within the online app and send those to clients in an e-mail. One nice feature: Users can collect payment from customers via PayPal, Google Checkout or credit card from within the app. It costs between $19 per month and $149 per month, depending on the number of clients a company has.
Shoeboxed attempts to cut down on all the clutter of business cards and receipts. Upon signing up for the service, users can send business receipts and business cards to Shoeboxed. The service will scan those into the tool, organize them based on the nature of the transaction, and make them available online. The receipts can also be downloaded to business software. Users can even run reports on the data. Paid plans start at $9.95 per month.
FreeAgent is similar to FreshBooks. The service makes it easy for small businesses to manage their accounting without being forced to pay for expensive desktop accounting software. The service is completely Web-based, which means users can access their information online no matter where they are. It also integrates into Google Calendar and Contacts to stay organized with appointments. Pricing starts at $20 per month.
SurveyMonkey is a fine service for companies attempting to see what their customers or employees think about a particular topic. Users can create a survey based on several different templates. They can also add their company's logo and change the survey's color to match their Website. The app even creates a survey URL with the company's name in it. SurveyMonkey is entirely Web-based, but users can download survey results to their desktops for further analysis. The basic plan for SurveyMonkey is free, while advanced options will cost $16.67 per month.
Manymoon is a project-collaboration and management platform that allows companies to monitor how far along a particular project is. Users can attach documents they create in Google Docs to tasks in the software, as well as add projects to Google Calendar. The app also includes time tracking and a microblogging tool to help team members communicate. But unlike so many other project-management tools, Manymoon is free.
TripIt is a tool that few companies might know about, but almost any firm can use. The service can be downloaded by a network admin at a company, who can create a company profile. From there, all travel plans and itineraries across the company can be put into TripIt, so it can track upcoming schedules. The app features a map showing where employees are going, includes a selection of booking agents, and even integrates with LinkedIn and Facebook to help users share travel information with colleagues. Most importantly, it's free to use.
OffiSync might not be as exciting as some of the other apps in this roundup, but it provides an extremely useful and unique service: It allows companies to bring Google Docs functionality to Microsoft Office. Users can save documents to Google's cloud from within Office, as well as search through saved files using Google's Search tool. The app also offers "real-time collaboration" with others. It's free to use.
UserVoice combines a Digg-like voting mechanism with corporate research to create a service that tries to help companies learn more about their customers and products. The idea behind UserVoice is simple: Companies attempting to learn more about a product or service can add UserVoice's widget to a product page and ask customers to vote. As people vote, companies can go back to the app and view reports on that data. Firms can also respond to customer feedback from within the app. Prices range from free up to $589 per month, depending on the level of service needed.
Tungle.Me is a freshly unique scheduling service that attempts to make it easy for professionals to find a time when they can meet with colleagues. The service gives users a unique URL to give to clients. When clients go to that page, they will see the person's complete availability. Based on their own availability, clients can choose a time that works for both parties. That information is saved on Tungle.Me and shared with Outlook, iCal or Entourage. The scheduling app is available for free.