Learning to ‘let-go’ and stop micromanaging your VAs is a skill that improves with time and practice. Using the right tools can make you feel more confident in delegating and hopefully speed up this process.
Below you will find the 8 apps and services that I use every day to safely and effectively delegate almost anything to my remote workers. This is my selection from years of trying to find the easiest ,most simple and cost- effective apps and services for outsourcing. They are listed in the order that I could not live without, starting with the most important.
Jing is free, easy to use and enables you to take screenshots and 5-minute videos and either copy, save or share them as URLs without having to worry about hosting as it’s all done for you and for free. The URL for the video/image is automatically saved to your clipboard, ready to be pasted into wherever you need it, this makes it one of the most user- friendly apps I know. Despite having a much more comprehensive screen-capture app (Screencast-o-Matic) I continue to use Jing every day as it is so simple, quick and easy to use.
Here’s a quick demo of why I think Jing is great for outsourcing: http://pix.systemsforoutsourcing.com/Jing
LastPass is a cross-platform auto-password filler, form filler, and credit card safe. This app is a must-have for everyone who manages a remote team. It makes it effortless to share and revoke access to websites without ever revealing your password. All you need is the email address of the person you are sharing with.
Apart from sharing logins with your VAs, LastPass is one of the most time-saving apps I use. It enables me to have a different secure password for every site I use without having to remember what each one is. What’s more, since buying a phone with a fingerprint reader, I don’t have to type the password into login to LastPass on my phone!
Another useful feature is that it recognises when you have multiple accounts for a single website, e.g. webmail inboxes, and prompts you to select from a list each time you log in. Here’s a quick video about using LastPass: http://pix.systemsforoutsourcing.com/LastPass
Asana is a simple, but powerful task and project management app and works great for creating checklist and templates for your business’s operations manual. The free version has everything most people will need to collaborate with remote workers. It is also easily integrated with your calendar, mobile app, and cloud storage.
For me, the best thing about it is its ability to categorize all aspects of the business into a team, project, task, and subtasks. This, combined with Tagging, allows for effective, segmented communication with specific groups of people.
One of the unexpected benefits of using Asana is how infrequently I now use email. As all internal communications are now done via Asana, this keeps conversation threads and all associated files and folders out of my inbox and in a single location within Asana.
My email Inbox is managed by my PA, who messages me in Asana when I need to give my input on an email reply, meaning I rarely even open my emails anymore. This represents a massive time saving as I don’t waste time ‘getting lost’ or distracted in my email Inbox.
4. Google Drive and Docs
With Google Drive, I can access all my files either online or offline (using the Desktop app). Every time the computer connects to the internet, the Desktop app syncs with the online Drive and vice versa. It also has amazing sharing capabilities as you can easily add and revoke access. There are also different levels of sharing files, e.g. view only access, edit access, changing ownership, etc.
One other nice feature is the ability to prevent viewers from downloading/printing or copying a document. I use this to ensure the latest version of my Operations Manuals are always being used. If you’re concerned about Intellectual Property theft, this makes it more difficult to rip-off your work.
For me, the best thing about Google Docs is its ability to allow multiple people to work simultaneously on the same document without ever getting conflicted copies. You can also modify documents in ‘Editing’ mode or ‘Suggesting’ mode, which is essential when mentoring your remote workers. The VA can then learn by reviewing the changes you have suggested.
Although most of these features are available on Microsoft 365, Google Docs and Google Drive and are both free, Google has been designed as an online service since day one, whereas Microsoft is playing catch up. I do still have both of these installed on my computer, but I rarely use Microsoft Office these days.
5. YouTube or Vimeo
We all know what YouTube is and what it does, but aside from entertainment purposes, YouTube is also a platform to upload and store all your business process video guides and training videos of any file size to share for free with anyone. This saves you from maxing out your cloud storage quota!
YouTube is totally free, and you can easily organise your videos into playlists and share by link or invitation based on your set restrictions. This is helpful especially when you need to revoke someone’s access, such as an ex-VA.
Vimeo is similar to YouTube but without the adverts! The free version of Vimeo isn’t quite as good as YouTube (you can’t share by a private link for example) but the ability to showcase your HD videos in a professional, ad-free environment makes the small monthly fee a no-brainer for me as an online educator.
If, however, the primary reason for publishing your videos is to grow a ‘fanbase’ and build your brand, then YouTube might be better for you. I use both.
6. PayPal for Business
You probably know that PayPal allows you to pay anyone, anywhere, for almost anything online direct from your PayPal balance, bank account or credit card. It’s also easy to use, integrates with WordPress and many other platforms you might be using as an online checkout and isn’t too expensive.
As most VAs in the Philippines have a PayPal account, it also makes it a great way to pay your remote team as you can pay in any currency you wish. The fees are minimal for these types of payments too.
What you may not be aware of, and where PayPal comes into its own, is when you set-up a business account (for free) and grant privileges to your VA depending on their role in the company. For example, my PA pays all my VA’s wages each week. Therefore, she has the authority to ‘Make Payments’ but she can’t see my balance, withdraw money nor make any other changes to the account.
One limitation of the user-delegation is the inability for them to make online purchases on your behalf. However, by linking a business PayPal account to a prepaid bank-card (see next section below) and then sharing the login details through LastPass, you can allow your VA to safely make purchases for you knowing that your risk exposure is limited to the balance on your prepaid card!
7. Prepaid Cards & PayPal
Business prepaid card (I use FairFX) allows you to delegate all online purchasing tasks to your VA, especially useful when PayPal is not available. Replenishing its funds is easily done by transferring money online from your credit card or debit card. I use a Google sheet on which my VAs to record all purchases and alert me when the balance is getting low so I can top-up. The reason why I prefer using a business prepaid account (as opposed to personal) is that I have multiple users, each with their own card, set-up on a single admin console. I have total control over the accounts and the cards are not all in my name!
As the cards are not directly linked to your bank account, they are totally safe to give to your remote workers as your risk is limited to the balance on the card. You can also combine one with a PayPal account (as described above).
8. Business Bank Accounts Delegate Users
With most Business Bank Accounts (I currently use HSBC), you can allow users to have restricted access to your account. This enables me to delegate payment of invoices by BACS transfer when credit cards or PayPal are not accepted (for example when paying a handy-man!). You can easily check their activities online, limit funds usage, and set up alerts. I like that you have full control over spending limits and delegate authorisation to someone else, taking me out of the loop entirely!
I hope this article has given you some ideas on how to outsource more of your work by using these 8 apps and services and shown you some useful tools that will make the job that little bit easier!
His obsession with creating systems has permeated throughout his professional life. This has enabled him to both live abroad and work as a doctor while continuing to manage and grow his property portfolio. As a hospital doctor he headed the Lessons Learned Committee to develop systems to improve patient safety.
In 2016 he retired from medicine to found the Systems and Outsourcing Company to help entrepreneurs outsource their work to give them more time to do the things they love to do each day. He now lives in Stockholm from where he manages UK based companies and his team of VAs.