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9 vital software packages you almost certainly need

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So here’s my list of premium picks. Each item has been strongly endorsed multiple times by top-tier businesses which use it. Some are well known – Basecamp – others are not known enough.

If there isn’t one piece of software here you need I’ll eat my headgear.

1. JIRA

Track IT queries

Jira is one of the most popular tools for streamlining customer requests to IT support. There is a Jira version for project management too. The UK’s fastest growing accountancy firm Crunch.co.uk swears by it, as do Virgin Media and Audi. Tried and tested.

2. BASECAMP

Project management software

Basecamp is initially free to use, and very simple to learn. Yes it’s popular – more than 285,000 firms use it, but far more firms use nothing at all. Some users stick to managing projects. Others use Basecamp to organise their entire companies. Either way, Basecamp is a great way to learn about project management software.

3. SLACK

Communications tool for internal use

Launched ten months ago, Slack has just raised $120m (taking the total to $160m), and is generating headlines like “Slack is now the fastest-growing workplace software ever”, and “Slack is killing email.” Puts all your comms in one easy-to-search place. A wheeze good enough to get Google itself to invest. Incredible feedback for such a young firm.

4. ANAPLAN

Replacement for Excel

Almost all firms use Excel. Many use it for financial planning and sales forecasting. But there are better tools out there, including the awesome Anaplan. It has three big advantages over Excel.

First, it is cloud-based, and so can handle astonishing amounts of data without slowing down. The architecture relies on in-memory computing and “Hyperblocks” which means it reacts instantly, no matter how much data you throw at it. 

Second, it was created with advanced finance, sales and operational planning in mind. This means it comes with more than 100 applications and templates. You can compile sophisticated charts more rapidly than with Excel.

Third, it comes with far more functionality than Excel. There is version tracking, user rights restrictions, and workflow management tools.

HP uses Anaplan for all its sales planning across 170 countries. Aviva, Prudential and Taylor Wimpey are just some of the British blue-chip firms using it. Founded by a Brit, Anaplan has just raised $150m in Series D funding as it gets better known. Highly recommended.

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