I started my own business about 7-8 months ago. Everything looks great and we are growing very nicely. I like web apps to keep my business organized (teamworkpm for project management, freshbooks for invoicing, etc.).
In the very beginning I used to do all the things those apps do via Microsof Excel. I learned a lot since those days, and one of the very first lessons I got was to use web apps instead of Excel.
Problem is that I still use Excel to solve some problems. One of those problems is to set goals and expectations for future months. I really want to stop using Excel to do this, and I'm very sure that there is an app for that.
What I do on Excel is to have a template with "ideal sales" and "real sales". There are 2 graphs that compare both numbers, and that helps us a lot because we can see if we are on the right track. I would love to use an app instead, with maybe some extra-features. Of course we are willing to pay a monthly fee for the service, so any recommendations will be cool, because I have searched for it and found nothing.
Any recommendations for such an app?
What you need is a CRM tool. Something like:
But spreadsheets are good tools, don't be embarrassed about it if it works. If you feel it's time to out grow it then one of these might work for you.
Julio, sometimes the best apps are the simple ones you create for yourself. Excel is a great tool for forcasting, goal tracking, and probably could not be replaced with an one size fits all solution.
Here is what i do.
For each project we create a task list, you can use a number of applications for this (both installed or on the web), but i prefer to use excel. We use different xls files to track projects, vacation, goals, milestones, tasks, you name it.
Its not the cleanest approach but it works.
You can get fancy and use a service like Box.net or sharepoint to share the excel files, but we just keep it very simple and use a dropbox account.
Its quick, its dirty, its easy to manage.
Once a project is launched we track its revenue using queries to its db. That is a completely different story with a bunch of automation set in place.
My main advice to you would be to focus on your business and not too much time setting up systems or doing data entry. Excel works again for us because we can quickly see "whats up" and move ahead.
If you are looking for a more elaborate solution look at a CRM such as salesforce or the suite of products offered by 37signals. If they dont have you covered look at who is integrated with them and i am sure you will find a good solution.