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The Best Tools to Use with Your Virtual Assistant

Barnaby

Barnaby Lashbrooke

Founder and CEO of Time etc, author of The Hard Work Myth

9 minute read

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The primary role of a virtual assistant is to free up our time to focus on other priority tasks. Yet, managing our virtual assistant can take more of our time than planned. The tools below can go a long way to making sure you maximize the benefit of your assistant, making it easier than ever to work remotely and stay in touch.

Using the right virtual assistant tools will help;

  1. Accomplish tasks efficiently
  2. Track our assistant's activity
  3. Organize our communication

Using the right virtual assistant tools will help;

  1. Perform tasks efficiently
  2. Track our assistant's activity
  3. Organize our communication

There are many virtual assistant tools available. The best solution depends on the requirements of the task and how comfortable we are with technology.

This article covers a diversified review of the best tools to use. The tools include;

  1. Password management tools
  2. Communication tools
  3. Task/Project management tools
  4. Work collaboration tools
  5. Prepaid credit and debit cards

Password Management Tools

Our virtual assistant will need access to many of our accounts. Such accounts may include; social media, online stores, work tools, online banking, and club membership. We may have to share all these passwords with our assistant. However, we don't need to give them all the access.

Password management tools help make all logins secure.

The best password tools include;

LastPass

LastPass will fill in our usernames and passwords. But we need first to install it as a browser extension. LastPass saves all our passwords across the devices we use. The browser add-on auto-fills our passwords. We don't have to sign in whenever we want to visit a site. Should we change devices, we can still have access to the password vault.

LastPass allows us to share these passwords securely with our virtual assistant. The assistant can log into our accounts as us, without seeing our data.

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Pros

  1. Affordable
  2. User friendly. Neither of us has to remember all our passwords.
  3. Can spot weak passwords. LastPass has a security challenge that analyzes all passwords in our vault. The challenge detects whether our current passwords are still secure or not.
  4. Works on most devices, including Windows, Mac, and Linus computers. We can also get the LastPass app on our smartphone or tablet.

Cons

  1. Changing password is tedious. We cannot batch change passwords. We won't be able to edit or delete many passwords all at once. Rather than update several, we need to change each password individually.

Dashlane

Dashlane helps assign or share passwords with our assistant. Dashlane works similarly to LastPass. We can also create secure passwords. This virtual assistant tool stores an unlimited number of passwords. We can also save the login information that we make.

Dashlane syncs all our devices and allows us to quickly and securely access our accounts when we need to. It also has a powerful autofill that types our passwords on any website.

Pros

  1. In case of a security breach, we get instant security alerts on our computer or phone.
  2. Dashlane backs up passwords and keeps them up to date
  3. It has a strong password generator that creates unique and secure passwords. The platform also saves passwords as we browse
  4. Allows for emergency lockout protection and dark web monitoring

Cons

  1. Dashlane doesn’t have the option to store vault locally.
  2. More expensive compared to LastPass, and the free limited version..

Communication Tools

We should be able to reach our virtual assistant, especially when we need a quick response. We can email them, but that can easily disappears in the shuffle. The following communication tools can be of help;

Slack

This tool replaces email communication and time wastage associated with it if we need to talk back and forth on projects - the main feature of this tool channels. Channels are group conversations that revolve around an agreed topic. Each task has its area where its discussion will take place. Channel, therefore, provides our virtual assistant and us an organized way to communicate.

Slack allows us to include our assistants in conversations they need to follow. We can also add our assistant to the company slack. When out of the office, our team can contact our virtual assistant for help.

Other valuable features of this tool include video calls and file sharing. Additionally, Slack comes with several app integrations. The apps include Google Doc integration, Twitter streams, and Google Hangouts.

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Pros

  1. Simplicity. Slack interface is evident; new users can jump right in without much setup time.
  2. App integration allows discussion of content across a variety of platforms.
  3. Channels allow for organized communication. The communication can be private between our assistant and us or shared.
  4. Perfect for quick response communications. Slack sends notifications whenever we receive a new message.
  5. Data is safe

Cons

  1. Slack deletes Conversations after 14 days.
  2. Slack has the least file storage depending on the package we choose.

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams enables us to chat and have audio and video calls. The features include group calling, cloud voicemail, and call transfers. Microsoft Team video calling features are robust. Helpful when we need to invite our assistant to larger team meetings.

We can also schedule meetings and share files with our virtual assistant. Microsoft Teams allows real-time collaboration on files. We can find, share, and edit files using apps such as Word, PowerPoint, and Excel.

Microsoft Teams WhoBot feature makes it stand out. WhoBot is an Al chatbot that assists find specific information on other members of our team. Information such as the organization structure and subject matter expert.

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Pros

  1. Increased focus on work as discussions via Teams reduces the number of back-and-forth emails.
  2. Channels help keep information organized. Each channel contains conversations and documents related to a specific topic.
  3. Increased productivity as a single interface manages all communications.
  4. User friendly

Cons

  1. Confusing file structure. Each channel has a root folder where all files upload onto the conversation stores. Links from the conversation to the files can break as the folders move around and end up rearranged.
  2. Limited flexibility in replicating structure. To move a channel or copy a team, we have to do so manually. The process feels like a waste of time.

Task/ Project Management Tools

As we get more projects and tasks, we need to figure out our workflows and collaboration. The best Project management tool will help us find a way around accomplishing our tasks.

A task/project management tool will help us answer the following questions;

  • The task we need to work on next
  • Who to assign a particular task.
  • The projects at risk of exceeding budget

We recommend choosing a tool that can grow with us. When selecting a project management tool, we consider what we need it to achieve now and in the next five years.

Asana

Asana is for project management and has been around for some time. Most probably, our virtual assistant already uses Asana. The free version of Asana is robust, and the team management features are handy.

We can create teams within Asana and assign different permissions. Our virtual assistants will have all the access they need without compromising our sensitive data that needs protection.

From small tasks to big projects, Asana helps organize work. Our virtual assistant would know the tasks they need to do. They would also see why the work matters and how to get it done.

Asana also helps put our work in one shared space. We can collaborate with our assistants regardless of where we are.

The list view in Asana allows us to organize and assign tasks. Our virtual assistant will see what we need accomplished, the priority tasks, and delivery times.

This tool enables us to see the progress of tasks and projects. We can manage dependent, overlapping, or unscheduled tasks.

Pros

  1. Asana's free version works well.
  2. We can create sections. Asana also allows for color-coding, which helps keep tasks organized.
  3. Our virtual assistant doesn't have to access all our information. We

can create secret projects.

  1. Asana has a duplicate task feature that helps save time.
  2. Asana calendar lets us view all tasks that are due. We can switch between list view and calendar view to see jobs that are due.

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Cons

  1. Asana is not friendly to new users. The reason is its intimidating graphics and interface. Onboarding training will be necessary. Especially if our virtual assistant is not familiar with Asana. The training can be costly and time-consuming
  1. Asana has too many features. These features become overwhelming, especially for basic projects

Hubstaff Tasks

Hubstaff Tasks make project management both and intuitive. The tool is simple to train someone to onboard, making it beginner-friendly. One of the best features is the sprint view. The sprint view allows us to tell our virtual assistants precisely what tasks they need to handle.

With Hubstaff Tasks, we can set up our workflows and assign tasks to our virtual assistant.bxTxBN-bQwomDRjmBasew8oz-HT-H9v3zkt-4RgvXQ2aBxuJvvs6TI3lq5-PqdbvUtICa-vlpikGDJnMms7QARrzmEFZCFpWug3rcJlRGK_S0J0B8x_CyOmq6Ddn6OHPG3dpmLwbpoe58GRtMg

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Hubstaff Tasks has visual boards and columns. This enables us to keep work moving as required. We can see all tasks at a glance, get project updates, and ensure meeting deadlines. Additionally, Hubstaff Tasks helps ensure that projects stay within the budget.

Reports will show the projects that are most profitable and ones that can drain our time. Our virtual assistant and the team will also be able to send client invoices and even make payments.

This tool also tracks expenses, set budgets and time limits. Hubstaff also tracks time, therefore, improves focus and keeps our assistant on task.

Pros

  1. Easy to set up without much of a challenge
  2. There are over forty integrations. These integrations allow us to connect Hubstaff to the business apps we use
  3. Hubstaff works offline as well. Later sends data to the server when internet access restores
  4. We can time track from different devices.

Cons

  1. It can sometimes freeze after updates.

Work Collaboration Tools

Work collaboration tools allow us to collaborate on documents in real-time. These file-sharing solutions help save both time and effort as compared to sending emails. Some of the best tools to share with our virtual assistant include;

Google Drive

Google Drive is a collaboration tool that allows us to store and share files. An individual Google account comes with 15GB of storage. Google Drive allows both of us to work within the same document. This flexibility eliminates the worry of document variation.

The drive is so versatile and allows both of us to view the same document simultaneously. Drive works on all major platforms. We can access it using desktop and mobile devices.

Drive includes the following document management tools;

  1. Google Docs for word processing
  2. Sheets. Google’s version of Excel for spreadsheets
  3. Slides. Version of PowerPoint
  4. Forms for feedback and questionnaire

We can share each person's file or create a shared folder. Any data we create inside the folder will be accessible to our virtual assistant. We will also have access to any data they add to the folder. Drive eliminates the string of shared emails or links, saving time.

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Pros

  1. The drive is an easy-to-use interface
  2. Drive allows us to access the file from any device and anywhere
  3. We can share files with anyone with a Google account

Cons

  1. We can’t access files while offline
  2. Drive limits the size of files we can upload. Our file upload limit is 750 GB per day.
  3. Potential security risk should someone get a link to one of our files. Google Drive has no extra layer of protection

Dropbox

Dropbox has robust file-sharing capabilities. Dropbox allows us to create and share documents, videos, and slides through the cloud. Sharing, editing, and storing files is easy with this tool. Dropbox is suitable for both small and big businesses. The platform offers unlimited storage, document management, and collaboration features.

We can upload and transfer files to the cloud and share them with our assistant. We can also back up and sync our documents and other files to cloud storage. Box allows us to access these documents and files from any device whenever we are.

Box also guards our security and privacy. We can also lock our files and control access. The feature is useful when we want our virtual assistant to access specific data and files.4eiHbtaVD5iqvM5Dza_UOkljzFHEhWa9jYZcnBJR92aOpFYh6ujXXlxPJ6RSQPPQh_FCRx4j3mONoyaLixZuT3o0Qu-aXM0_vFYhFqHCgnOSRBEeCmJ60VRWN-6scWXPHdcygQP6J6MJi88SHA

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Pros

  1. Box allows for automatic file backup
  2. Box has a high level of advanced software integration
  3. We can continue working and editing files even during internet downtime

Cons

  1. Lack of enough data security. Dropbox is notorious for hackings
  2. Underwhelming search functionality tools necessary for finding specific files
  3. The 2 GB of storage is insufficient, while paid version costs about $9.99

Pre-Paid Credit and Debit Cards

Making payments to remote employees is a process that needs serious consideration. How we make these payments can make a big difference in fees, timing, and ease of use.

Here are two online payment services that we can consider;

Payoneer

Payoneer is an alternative for wire transfer services and online payments. Payoneer is an internet-based financial service business. We can transfer money and receive payments through re-loadable prepaid MasterCard debit cards.

Our virtual assistant can use the cards at ATMs or at the point of purchase. The assistant can also withdraw money from the debit card to their bank account. There will be no charges should they receive money from our Payoneer balance.

Payoneer

Source

Pros

  1. No bank account is necessary.
  2. We can use Payoneer in stores, online, or any ATMs which accept MasterCard
  3. We get our cash in a short duration, about two hours
  4. Getting an account on payee is free

Cons

  1. The cost is steep
  2. Payments have an upper limit of 1000 USD

PayPal

One of the first online payment services to launch was PayPal. PayPal is also one of the widely used payment systems worldwide. PayPal allows us to make a person-to-person payment. The transaction can be from our PayPal account to our virtual assistant's account.

Paypal Pros and Cons | What Consumers Need To Know

Source

Pros

  1. User friendly
  2. Records transactions
  3. Protects data to the highest possible security standards
  4. It has a mobile application that is easy to use
  5. Sending money is free

Cons

  1. We incur transaction charges when we receive money
  2. PayPal sometimes freezes accounts without prior warning

Conclusion

There are lots of virtual software assistant tools in the market. However, we need to choose tools that would best meet our needs and those of our virtual assistants.

Consider the following factors when shopping for these tools;

  1. Many features. Go for feature-rich tools that will allow you and your assistant to use them in different ways
  2. Ease of use
  3. Privacy options. All conversations and files should not be public
  4. Go for cloud-based technology
  5. Integrations and compatibility. Go for tools that can integrate with other apps and software. The tool should also support or be compatible with all files that you use.

Sources:

https://kaylasloan.com/tools-for-virtual-assistants/

https://blog.hubstaff.com/virtual-assistant-software/

https://biz30.timedoctor.com/virtual-assistant-software/

https://myva360.com/blog/the-13-essential-software-tools-for-virtual-assistant

https://www.thevirtualsavvy.com/virtual-assistant-tools/

https://lisatannerwriting.com/free-tools-virtual-assistants/

https://startups.co.uk/technology/lastpass-review/

https://www.dashlane.com/features/password-manager

https://wearevirtualassistants.com/va-tools-in-the-spotlight-slack/

https://vacationtracker.io/blog/the-pros-and-cons-of-microsoft-teams

https://pediaa.com/difference-between-google-docs-and-google-drive/#:~:text=The%20main%20difference%20between%20Google,file%20storage%20and%20synchronization%20service.&text=Google%20Docs%20allows%20creating%20and%20editing%20word%20processing%20documents.

https://reesebenyaacov.com/2014-06-5-paypal-alternatives-virtual-assistants/

https://www.online-sciences.com/technology/payoneer-card-advantages-and-disadvantages/

https://financialwellness.org/paypal-pros-cons-review

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About the author

Barnaby
Barnaby Lashbrooke is the founder and CEO of Virtual Assistant service Time etc as well as the author of The Hard Work Myth, recently recommended by Sir Richard Branson. Barnaby is a Forbes Columnist on productivity and is also an accomplished entrepreneur, selling more than $35 million worth of services.

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