Silverpine has been a remote-first company since we started work over a decade ago. Our tools are critical to us performing at a high level, so we are constantly evaluating which ones we use. The last couple years I’ve posted about the stack we use and this is our updated list for 2022. Previous years’ versions of this post are here (2021) and here (2020).
The following list represents the software that powers our business. (I have intentionally omitted some of the lower level development tools like Xcode and Android Studio.)
The list is broken into three primary classifications: “Communication“, “Development and Design,” and “Operations and Finance.”
The heart of our business is Slack. I’m not sure how you could do remote work as a team without a tool like Slack. It’s easily the most important tool we use, and we use it constantly. Recently, some of our clients and peers have moved to Microsoft Teams, but for us, Slack just works so much better and is less clunky and onerous than Teams.
When the pandemic started, Zoom catapulted to the forefront of video conference calling because it was so simple and easy to use. Like many other companies, we made the switch and since then, it’s been a pretty solid workhorse for us. Just like Slack, however, some of our clients have moved to Teams for teleconferencing, so we definitely use it on a regular basis. However, Zoom continues to be easier to use and it has a better integration with Google Workspace which is also important to us. That being said, I can envision a future where we move to Google Meet because of cost and integration considerations, but for the foreseeable future, Zoom is our tool of choice for meetings.
As I just alluded to, Google Workspace is another critical piece of our infrastructure. It’s what we use for email, calendar/scheduling, document creation and (as of 2022,) file storage. We have been using Google for email since we started and over time, they have improved their offering and earned more of our business. Most recently, we ditched Dropbox for shared file storage and moved everything to Google Drive. I still feel that Dropbox is slightly easier to use than Google Drive, but the integration and cost advantages of Google Drive give it the clear edge.
Development & Design
This year we (like many other agencies) consolidated many of our design tools into Figma. In past years, our design stack was Sketch + InVision + Zeplin, however this year that has all collapsed into Figma. This has made us more efficient, and from a cost and licensing perspective, we’re actually saving money. Now that Adobe has acquired it, we sincerely hope they don’t ruin what an amazing product Figma is, but we’ll keep a close eye on it.
If you asked me to name another cloud based source control platform, I’m not sure I could. Github has a monopoly in this space, but fortunately, they seem committed to continually improving and expanding the feature set. As an example, because of changes and additions to Github’s “Actions” tools, we have fully moved our CI (continuous integration) processes to Github. If you are still using another platform for CI, I strongly recommend you take a look at what Github is doing here.
There are plenty of Git UI tools, but after using Tower for the past six years, we feel like it’s the best option for agencies like Silverpine. It is available on both Windows and Mac, and the Tower team is constantly rolling out new versions and features that add real quality of life improvements. Additionally, their licensing scheme is very cost effective and works well for our model.
This year marked a change for us for our choice of defect tracking software. After resisting Jira for many years, we finally took the plunge and it turns out that Jira is….ok? It definitely still has warts and isn’t perfect but Atlassian has made enough changes over time to make Jira a palatable choice. I still feel like there is a big opportunity for someone to shake up the world of defect tracking but for now, Jira is what we’re using.To me, using Jira feels like the old saying “Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM.”
We started using Miro a little bit in 2021 to do shared planning and strategy design, but really got into the groove with it this year. It’s a very easy to use shared whiteboard app and falls into that category of “it just works.” Every time I use it, I always think that I should use it more. I’m a very visual thinker, and with remote teams, Miro really helps me communicate what my words often can’t. If you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend checking it out.
Operations & Finance
We use Quickbooks for our finances. It’s what our bookkeeper and our CPA want us to use. It’s fine.
I know that many people use Harvest for time tracking, but we actually use it for sending and tracking invoices to our clients. Harvest has a pretty robust set of invoice functionality that I think gets overlooked because of their focus on time tracking. This is another tool that just works the way you expect it to, and we don’t have to think about it.
When we first started using Gusto, I couldn’t say enough nice things about the platform, and all things considered, it’s still a quality payroll system. They are quick to integrate state and local tax changes and using them to pay contractors is incredibly simple. I do worry that they’ve grown to a size that their customer service has suffered a bit, but hopefully they can iron out the kinks as they continue to grow.
We use Squarespace to host our company website. If you need to get a decent website built quickly, it’s not a bad route to go, but given that we build websites for other people, I don’t love this. I expect this next year, Squarespace will be dropping off this list.