Getting things done with Asana and Usersnap

Asana is a shared task list for your team, keeping everyone on the same page. Asana’s mission is to empower humanity to do great things. Dustin Moskovitz and Justin Rosenstein, both Facebook alumni, created the project management tool to help take that step; to improve the productivity of individuals and groups. Implementing it at Facebook, the results were promising: fewer meetings, the volume of emails went down and the teams got more done with less effort.

Now we are all-in for less emails, especially the ones that come with a subject along the lines of “It does not work, FIX IT“. To help your visitors, customers, and team members describe what they (don’t) see on a page you need a visual feedback tool. Working with Asana already? That’s great, then we only have to connect your Usersnap account to your Asana dashboard!

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activeCollab: A Collaboration Hub for Your Team

Collaboration of the kind where everyone is involved, and able to discuss projects and tasks while you as a manager still having full control over what they can see and do, can be tricky. ActiveCollab is a project collaboration hub for teams that solves that problem. And with Usersnap hooked up to activeCollab, you can easily gather feedback during your development process. Having all project data in one, centralized place is extremely valuable as everyone knows where to get the most up to date information and collaboration and notification tools are built right into the workflow.

People, Roles and Permissions

With activeCollab, there’s no limit to the number of users that you can invite. Continue Reading “activeCollab: A Collaboration Hub for Your Team”

3 Tips for SaaS Startups: Advisors, Math and Weak Spots

There are hundreds of startup advice blog posts. Many of them are based on a couple of experiences the respective founders made which are sometimes being presented as universal truth applicable to every startup. What frequently is missing is the context of the writer. So here’s my context: I’m an entrepreneur, I established a single successful (aka profitable) software boutique with my brother before we started to work on Usersnap (a B2B SaaS product), and we failed with another business idea. I’m older than the average startup founders and I did not drop out of university. I’m living in Austria, and I prefer the term “starting a business” instead of “running a startup”.

Disclosing this background, I’d like to share 3 observations I made in the last months.

Thoughts about finding Advisors

Limited life experiences + Over-generalization = Advice
Paul Buchheit, Founder of FriendFeed and creator of Gmail

I’m amazed how many people show the self-confidence to call themselves startup-advisors. At some point, I even got the impression that some failed startup entrepreneurs believe they’ll be able to advise other startups with a rationale that a set of experienced mistakes empowers them to guide fellow startups.

To me, that’s a misconceived plan B. Whereas I strongly believe that sharing failure with other entrepreneurs is very valuable I don’t think this is what advising is about. Continue Reading “3 Tips for SaaS Startups: Advisors, Math and Weak Spots”

Continuous Everything – From Coding to Feedback

Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment are strong concepts in modern software development and specifically useful and necessary for cloud applications. Delivering code continuously keeps the product development agile and allows for fast iterations. Specifically when it comes to SaaS products or services, the way to ship software has to follow the continuous track, delivering new “releases” several times a day. For example, at Quora every commit is submitted to the production system, unless this process is actively suppressed.

Ever decreasing software release cycles also require to rethink the way feedback from real users is gathered. Bimonthly user experience reviews with a selected set of customers are not suitable if new features of a product are published daily. Tools to suggest improvements and to report bugs need to be actively integrated in the product development process, addressing not only a selected group of testers but also includes real users.

This blog post is essentially an extended tutorial, explaining how to set up a 3C software production chain:- Continuous Integration, Continuous Deployment and Continuous Feedback.

We will use Microsoft Visual Studio and deploy directly to Windows Azure (Section 1). After that we connect Microsoft Team Foundation Server Online to our tool chain (Section 2) and subsequently connecting TFS with Windows Azure to establish Continuous Deployment directly from Visual Studio (Section 3). Finally we will add Usersnap to introduce Continuous Feedback to our setup (Section 4).

Since a standard “Hello-World” approach is always disappointing, we decided to create a tweet-wall which displays tweets containing the hashtag #usersnap. Lots of screenshots should provide a step-by-step tutorial to get you started with Visual Studio 2012, Team Foundation Service and Azure and finally Usersnap. There is no need to write code while walking through this tutorial.

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Basecamp as a project management tool for web projects

Launched in 2004, Basecamp is one of the oldest web-based project management and collaboration tools on the web.  With 150,000 companies using Basecamp, it’s definitely one of the most successful PM tools out there. 37signals, the company behind Basecamp relaunched Basecamp as “New Basecamp” back in March this year. The “old” Basecamp Classic is still available and it is still possible to sign up for a Basecamp Classic account. Since the classic version is not actively promoted any longer, this blog post refers only to the “New Basecamp“.

Instead of reviewing all features of Basecamp and comparing them to other tools, let’s focus on five real life requirements for a project management tool which is used for managing web development projects. These requirements are experiences we gathered in the last couple of years.

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