Tools for Startups – 80% of what you need at 20% of the expense and maintenance

There’s a great article over at Read/WriteWeb on Software for Virtual Teams.

Read/WriteWeb’s recommendations are:

I think that basecamp is overrated. It has serious deficiencies (for me – ymmv) in tracking task dependencies, creating types/tags for tasks, time tracking, and automatic pinging of assignees for uncompleted tasks. It’s almost good for the stated purpose: collaborating on (simple) creative projects that span multiple company boundaries and teams.

I’m still waiting for a hosted project management-lite solution that does 80% or more of what I want.

I agree 100% with the endorsement of Skype, GoToMeeting, and CVSDude. I use all three currently and I chose them because of the good experiences I had with each of them on other projects. CVSDude also offers hosted trac and bugzilla instances, which save you the trouble of getting that stuff elsewhere.
In the accounting front, I’m not sure there’s any choice but QuickBooks – I got PeachTree for free ($149 w/ a $149 rebate, so I guess I paid the tax) and just had to go get Quickbooks because my accountant doesn’t speak anything else. I also did a quick survey of other accountants, and none of them uses anything but QuickBooks for clients my size.

I’ve already said I’m not a fan of Basecamp – even though I am a big fan of 37Signals – but I only have a wishlist of features they don’t support. In practice, I still use basecamp for a couple of projects and used it at my company until we upgraded to Atlassian‘s Jira and Confluence. Josh left a commenters on the above-mentioned post recommending goplan and Clever Tools. Clever Tools does claims to do a lot more than just collaboration/project management. I’ll be checking it out.

Calendaring is also tough. I’ve tried everything listed, and I don’t like any of them. We are using Zimbra‘s Collaboration Suite (ZCS). Calendaring should go together with email, so one of the hosted MS Exchange providers is also an option. I’ve recommended mi8 in the past.

I know nothing about online file storage or backup. I plan to learn soon, though.

While I was looking around, I also found this site that I thought was good: VerusNova – Technology for Small Business Success. It’s a pretty standard link/review blog, but they cover a lot of ground on the kinds of hosted and open source tools that interest me.