Question : Small Business communications tools advise

I'm working for a small business start up (of 4 people) that is finding good business but having trouble managing and communicating efficiently.  We don't have a home office just yet, so we each have to work remotely then communicate progress with one another.

I'm a 12 year developer who is used to adhering to an established process and set of management tools, but I'm struggling to implement them.  Right now I can receive 60+ emails a day from my team, follow Yammer (for progress updates), Skype for phone conferences & messaging, follow (for our to-do list), Google Wave for discussion documents, all while trying to develop software for our core business.  It's out of control....

Does anyone have any suggestions for an all encompassing tool set that is REALLY good, clean, and simple?  And preferably free...  Or open-source .NET?  

I in charge of development and IT, and have a MS Server running that I could install stuff on if needed.  Thanks!

Answer : Small Business communications tools advise


How are you doing? Congrats on taking the steps to start a new business!!!

Wow, you have a lot of different "streams" of information to log into and check on to see what is going on.

What about implementing a WTS (windows terminal server) and have the people VPN into it. Then you can have 4 different "desktops" so that when the people connect, they are all sharing the one server. Then you can all share e-mail via exchange, documents (save them on a server drive) and share software (as you install it to run on the server). From the backup standpoint, if it is on the server and you back that up, then it is backed up. If their laptop/desktop crashes, no big deal, just get them a new one/fix it, load the VPN/WTS and they are back in. Hire a new person, just create a new account, load the VPN/WTS and they are in.

From a cost and management standpoint, you might want to look at putting the above into a cloud, where you can manage it remotely, so you don't need a few different servers or multiple "virtualized" servers running on your windows server box.

Each of the tools you are using do a fine job when you add one or two of them to compliment your already strong setup, such as Skype for international calling. But have 5 or 6 different things is a bit much.

My company is a Microsoft house and uses this setup to house approximately 100 remote workers across the country. The biggest issue is not having a fast connection (upload, mainly) but if you have fast cable internet then the terminal server feels like a normal desktop.

In the end, the combination of all the pieces you wish to integrate really would be a total solution, which is going to be sold at a premium price. Google Docs for instance would solve some issues, but likely end up adding just an additional layer and login.

I know this is more of a thought then a solution, sorry about that, but I figured you had not gotten any responses... so I would throw this one out there.

Hope this helps,
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