We are a small start-up company looking to build out a simple cloud-based IT infrastructure. The main functions we'd like to link together are:
1. E-mail / Calendar
2. Shared and Personal Contacts by Group
3. Ability to Share / Edit MS Office files (I remember once seeing an add-in toolbar for MS that synchronized through Google Drive) with good version control (ideally simultaneous editing)
4. GitHub integration
5. Shared wiki / document / not repository (Evernote?)
6. Project and Task Management (basic timelines and/or Kanban)
7. Accounting / Finance
8. Basic CRM
9. Online File Archiving (think permalinks for files we upload, which we can then reference via URL in documents)
10. Simple recruiting / candidate tracking
(Of lesser importance now, but to keep in mind, would be marketing and analytics tools for managing advertising and marketing campaigns)
In order of decreasing priority, the most important considerations are:
1. Cost (free or cheap is best)
2. The degree to which these systems can be synchronized / integrated
3. The degree to which they allow the information to be exported/ported to a new component should we eventually decide to 'upgrade'
4. The degree to which these systems can be customized / have APIs that would eventually allow for custom integration if needed
5. The degree to which each component and their integration are well known and supported by the larger community
4. Ease of use
Of course, having all of these is best, but if tradeoffs have to be made, these will likely be the guiding principles.
If it helps, we already use the following extensively (this is not to say we wouldn't be willing to change to achieve the above, but it might help provide you a starting point:
- Google Apps
- Streak (a very basic CRM Gmail extension)
If it helps to have further constraints, we have both mac and Windows OSs, and iPhones, Androids, and even a Blackberry on mobile.
We are open to the use of integration services like Zapier and CloudHQ to the extent they meet the criteria above (and in fact prefer the use of those services over you writing custom code.)
Let me give a simple example of the ideal case (this may not be possible without significant customization, but would give you an idea.)
A customer comes to our website and fills out a form saying there's an error on the web site. That automatically adds them to our CRM system, and creates a "To-Do" for the appropriate person our task management system in the appropriate category. Every morning the CEO can login and see everyones tasks by category. He can drag and drop the prioirty order of those tasks. If tasks are taking too long, he'll get an e-mail notifying him.
The developer checks out the code from Github and starts working on the fix. Afterwards, he opens a Word document during a screensharing session with a technical writer so they can both be editing the documentation as they discuss. They want to reference a dataset they used in the documentation, so the add a link directly to the dataset in the document.
Meanwhile the CEO is planning a new project and assigning costs to each task...those costs are automatically transferred into the finance software (or maybe just a spreadsheet) that combines all the projects together to estimate the costs for next year. He automatically links the data in the spreadsheet to his latest presentation, so as he updates the costs in the spreadsheet, they automatically update both in the project plan and in the presentation (with appropriate checks and confirmation, of course)
Hopefully that gives you some idea.
We are looking for someone to propose a suite of products and services, and a method of linking them together, along with an estimated time and fixed price to do so, along with providing clear documentation of the entire set up.
Once the initial set up is done, we would like to keep you on a small hourly/monthly retainer to provide on-going support (which should be minimal), and possibly be available for follow up projects as we need further significant customization.
Maybe you say we should use X, Y, and Z packages. Maybe you tell us the simplest/easiest way is to write some Google App scripts. No problem. We're very open.
Proposals will be based upon the criteria above as well as initial and support pricing. Our suspicion is that this can be done elegantly, quickly, and inexpensively for someone who is knowledgeable.