Cloud services for sohos

SoHo (acronym for Small Office/Home Office) refers to organisations that are not very large. Generally thought of as the smallest of the smallest businesses, they generally have an employee base of less than 10. This is one of the most common way in which startups operate nowadays, making this category of organizations quite important. SoHo/Early stage startups require software tools that are very easy to operate customisable and are not that tedious. Following is a selection of few of the best cloud-based applications for SoHos:


These services cover everything from time tracking, invoicing, survey tools, and project management to CRM tools. Here are our top picks.

SoHo (acronym for Small Office/Home Office) refers to organisations that are not very large. Generally thought of as the smallest of the smallest businesses, they generally have an employee base of less than 10. This is one of the most common way in which startups operate nowadays, making this category of organizations quite important. SoHo/Early stage startups require software tools that are very easy to operate customisable and are not that tedious. Following is a selection of few of the best cloud-based applications for SoHos:

I. Time-Tracking Cloud Apps:

Even though SoHos are pretty small in terms of employee base and are believed to be working on odd time schedules and also believed to be working all the time, these Organizations need time tracking apps.

The basic requirement for these time-tracking apps would be to track how much time actually the work was being done (removing the lunch/snacks/smoke time) and tracking what tasks/mini tasks were completed and achieved and how much time did it actually take.

Basically a software/app that helps in personal management. If the app could also generate some reports and graphs as to where maximum time was spent this week/month; that would help in maintaining progress about everyone and also will help spot the guy who sees cat videos all day and pretends to work!
Following are some of the time-tracking management softwares that can be useful if you are a SoHos:

1. Time Doctor:

Web: http://www.timedoctor.com/
Time Doctor is one of the most widely used time tracking softwares presently. Apart from Organizations a lot of freelancers use it too for accurate time tracking and clients prefer it too for getting billed for the accurate time.

Time Doctor UI

Time Doctor is simple to use and has a clear motive - To track how much of time is spent in each task and how many hours of actual work has been done in a day/week/month.

•    Native Application has to be downloaded, which has a simple interface where you make a couple of things-to-do and select the one on which you are currently working.
•    The software tracks the amount of time user is working and generates a user activity profile for each user which can be accessed by going onto their website and signing in.
•    It even monitors what the user is doing on the device. It keeps track of what websites are being used and keeps track of all this like a Mom who tracks her teenage daughter. This feature can also be switched off.

•    The user activity profile on their website lists out where all the user spent time in a day, the amount of break time, the amount of youtube watching time, etc.
•    It analyses the data and generates reports out of these user activity profiles.
•    The native app works even when you are offline and syncs once you are online
•    Allows Integration with Google Apps, Basecamp


•    A simple app without any need of complication. Set a list of tasks and start working.
•    App is very customizable and hence can be tweaked according to the requirements.


•    Cannot write notes/pointers about each task. Hence, will need to maintain another project management tool for maintaining mini tasks and notes
•    In the default mode, it keeps bugging the user when the screen is left idle for a few seconds with “Are you still working?” comments; which gets irritating.
•    The reports and user activity profiles can be accessed only in the Premium mode. The free mode only allows you to use the native app and tracks the total amount of time the user has worked in a day/week/month; but doesn’t give detailed info about each task.


•    Free version has limited features available.

•    Solo Version costs around 5$/month and is devoid of the monitoring features.

•    The general premium version which costs $9/user/month, gives all the features of tracking, monitoring and user activity report features.

Who is it for?

•    Solo version suits freelancers pretty well. But doesn’t allow maintaining notes for each task; so you will end up using something else along with this.

•    It has extensive monitoring features and hence can work for you if you are working with a remote team.

•    If you are working with an in-house team, you’ll have to do some tweaking with the settings if you don’t want your team mates to feel that you are trying to monitor them.

•    Due to availability of a free version, SoHos who don’t want to invest much in time tracking can use this app.

2. Office Time:

Web: http://www.officetime.net/
Office Time is not only a time tracking software but also helps in invoicing and billing freelancers/remote team members. It has some additive functionalities when compared to Time Doctor. So, let’s have a look at what it has to offer:

OfficeTime UI


 Has a native desktop/mobile app which takes care of time tracking.

  Users can make a list of tasks that they intend to do and select the one they are presently doing.

   Office Time allows its users to write comments and make mini tasks and write notes about each particular task, which increases productivity.

    It also allows users to set hourly rate for each task assigned. This can help when freelancers are billed and invoices are made.

   Allows multiple projects to be added and tasks inside these projects. The switching from one task to another is simple and elegant.

   Generates reports according user activity profiles.


   The ability to take notes and comments.

   Easy invoicing/billing according to the work done

   For viewing reports, users need not go onto their website. Reports are generated from inside the native app itself.

    Tweaking/editing of time is simpler in this.

    No creepy monitoring features.


    Less number of monitoring features

    No per month subscription model. have to pay for the software in full for once.


    No free version. Trial version available for 21 days.

    One time cost of Rs. 3200 (appx) for once.

   They promise refund of all the whole amount if users are not satisfied within 120 days of purchase.


    It is a web app. It requires users to download and instal a native app also, which keeps uploading data to the web app.

   It tracks each and every activity of the user and also tracks what document the user was reading or which website the user was browsing.

    Can add projects and tasks and track time according to each task

   Allows users to set rate for each task and shows the billed and unbilled amounts clearly on the web app.

    Creates report, charts based on the user activity


  Tracks each and every user activity by itself. Hence, a clear estimate of how long each task was worked upon.

    The billing and invoice part is better than the other apps.


    To view tasks and make any changes, user needs to go to the web app. The native app only monitors all the user activity.

   Sync takes place after every hour! If immediate syncing is required, user has to manually upload the data.

    The whole structure of web app and native app makes it too complicated.

    More focus is on monitoring than on adding tasks, projects.


    No free version

   Basic version costs $19/user/month and no invoicing feature in this. It allows registration of only a single device per user

   The minimum version with invoice features costs $29. Allows only 2 device registration per user.

Who is it for?

   Maybe useful for Organizations who want to monitor each and every activity of the user for exact billing.

    Not suitable for startups due to high pricing and complex UI.

    Not suitable for dynamic Organizations which focusses on just time tracking and not user monitoring.

II. Invoicing & expense management software:

For any startup Invoicing and expense management is very tedious and kind of a liability. These SoHos do not have huge budgets to invest on huge accounting softwares; neither do they have the budget to hire someone just for accounting. For a SoHos, with some basic level expenses and income there are some cloud-based softwares/apps that can help you do you expense management pretty easily. If you are a startup and are in need of something like this, read on:

1. SageOne:

Web: www.sageone.com
Sage One is one of the most used Invoice & Expense Management Softwares available right now. it takes care of all the tedious jobs that a SoHo generally fears to do on its own.


SageOne UI


a. DashBoard:

   Provides a Central Dashboard from which everything can be done.

   At a glance, it gives you the total expenses and income this month, your bank account statement, your profit/loss and unpaid invoices/quotes.

b. Accounting:

   This makes accounting easy and manageable. 

   Easy entry of income and expenses which includes all the details and bills can be attached and saved accordingly.

    Allows creation of categories for Income and expenses for more better Organization.

   Easy creation of Profit and Loss reports, Balance Sheets and Aged Invoice reports.

    Lets users connect their primary office bank account to keep track of payments.

c. Invoice Management:

    Lets users create customizable invoice sheets and send to clients.

   Clients can directly pay through PayPal or SageOne’s integrated payment system.

    It keeps track of all the overdue invoices and sends the reminder to the clients in regular intervals.

d. Project Management & Information Sharing:

   Lets user create tasks and deadline and track the project progress.

   Lets users create tasks and mini tasks and allows easy sharing of project timelines within team or with clients.


    Web-based application can be accessed from any device

    Very good for invoice and accounts management


   No time-tracking options which could have made billing and invoicing more accurate.

   Cannot be accessed offline due to lack of native application.


   No free version available. Free trial is for 15 days only.

    Costs 24$/month for all the features. No restriction on the number of user additions.

Who is it for:

    For startups which need Invoice and Accounting Management softwares.

    May be not suitable for freelancers or organizations who outsource work. Time-tracking plus invoice management softwares would give accurate project progress and amount of time put in the project.

2. Zoho Invoicing:

Web: https://www.zoho.com/invoice/
Zoho wants to cover almost every need of an Organization especially SoHos; so, they do have something to provide in this sector too - Zoho Invoicing; a clear and neat cloud-platform which can be used to create and manage invoices quotes and handle clients. Let’s see what all it has to offer:

Zoho Invoice


    Lot of ready-made templates available which has customizing options.

   Keeps a track of all the invoices and payments.

   Keeps a list of overdue payments.

    Option available to send automatic reminders to clients in periodic intervals.

Quotes & Estimates:

    Lets users create quotes and estimates that can be sent to consumers.

    Lets users keep track of all the quotes sent and also allows easy changing of quotes

  Lets users easily create invoices from quotes.

    Easily lets you cloone invoice and quotes and allows fast changes to be sent to different customers.

Expense Tracking:

    Lets users document all the expenses made.

    If any of them are reimbursable, it allows you to prepare an invoice for that and send it to the customers.

   Generates reports on where and how the expenses are made for easy tracking.

Time Tracking:

    Allows time-tracking like other time tracking softwares.

    Allows users to invite clients to monitor over the project progress.

    Invoice for the projects can be created by using the time-tracking feature.


    The software caters to almost all the needs and is easy to use.

    Has some additional features like adding tax amounts to each purchase which lets you keep track of taxes and discounts.

   Integration with other Zoho apps like Zoho CRM

    Multi-lingual support

    Access to the large Zoho Community.

    Flexible pricing


    Time tracking app is web-based and not native.


    Free for 1 user and 5 customers

   $15/month for 500 customers and 3 users

   $30/month for unlimited customers and users.

Who is it for:

  •     Suitable for startups and mid-sized organizations
  •     Suitable for freelancers also.

3. CurdBee:

Web: curdbee.com
CurdBee is an Invoice and Billing cloud-based software that has users in around 30 countries. The product was initially developed by a Sri Lankan-based startup. Let’s have a look at what

Curdbee invoicesw

CurdBee provides:


    It lets users create custom invoices, allows including tax, discounts and also has the reminder feature.

    Lets users create custom Estimates which can later be changed into invoices

    It has an added feature of timing your invoice, so that you can send it in the future or send it repeatedly in periodic intervals.

    Has a feature of Time-Tracking, where projects and tasks can be created and reports can be generated.

    The time tracking can be done even when the user is offline and then it syncs the data once they are online.

    The Expense and Income Management feature it provides is very much standard and documents all your income and expenditure, which can be later generated into plots and graphs.


    The time tracking can be done when the user is offline also which is not the case in Zoho and SageOne.

   Only service which provides a lot of features for free.


    The Invoicing services can be availed for free.

    $5/month for all the above and time-tracking, estimates.

    $20/month for all the above and generating reports, charts, etc.

4. Invoiceable:

    An Invoice-only platform that lets users create quick invoices through a flexible user interface

    Lets users maintain track of all the invoices

   Lets users keep track of all the clients contacted.

   Free to use. 


   No customization options

    Very basic in terms of features


    Free if the invoice links are on their domain

    If you want to remove links from the invoices sent to clients, then a one time payment of 49 Euro.

Who is it for:

    Freelancers and small Organizations which doesn’t require much customization.


Surveys form an integral part of any research whether it is an academic research or Consumer/Market Research. Making forms, sending them to potential respondents, collecting responses and organizing that data is a very complex and long process not only for startups, but also for big Organizations.

A lot of softwares/apps make it easier to go through this tedious process. Following are some of the cloud based softwares that can help you get this process of surveys done with ease.
1. Google Forms:


    Google Forms is one of the most used form building softwares. 

    It’s quick to use and easy to create

    Allows sharing of form through a single link

   Different themes to choose from

    Allows all different type of question types such as checkboxes, lists, etc.

    Allows real-time editing by multiple users. Hence, more than one user can combinedly create a form.

    Flexible interface. Allows rearrangement of questions and categorization of questions into multiple sections.

    All the form’s responses will be automatically saved in a spreadsheet form where each questions responses are saved in columns. This helps in creating reports, charts and analyzing this data further.

Google Forms


    Doesn’t allow advance question types like 3D matrix questions.

    Not very customizable. Cannot include your own logo and cannot to customized styling


    Its for free!

Who is it for?

    Suitable for casual purposes or sometimes for academic purposes.

    Might not suit when too much of customization is needed.

    No option of skipping question based on answers.

    Cannot be done offline

2. FluidSurveys:
web: fluidsurveys.com



    It has a unique drag and drop editor.

    Supports over 64 languages and also allows more than 35 question types.

   Allows custom formatting and inclusion of logo, brand color, etc.

    Provides a plethora of template options.

    Mobile apps available which allows to take surveys even when respondents are offline and then the data can be synced after they go online.

    Questions can be set to be skipped depending upon the response.


    Integration of live chat into the survey through which surveyors can interact with the respondents while they fill the survey.

    Integration with CintHub which gives access to 7.5 million profiles respondents.

    Integration with DropBox for saving all the responses.

    Create respondent groups or user profiles for particular set of respondents if needed.

    Exports the responses into spreadsheets, CSV or SPSS.

  Password protection for these surveys is possible for restricted sharing

    Generated real-time reports, charts from the responses collected.

    Helps in measuring open-ended questions by using text-tagging and also helps in understanding common text trends.

    Allows respondents to answer through video/audio/picture messages also.

    provides administrative tools that helps in managing users and groups and keep track of all the activity from a central dashboard.

    Provides an API for developers.


   Free version doesn’t offer any additional features. Equivalent to Google Forms and moreover allows only 20 questions/survey in the free version.


  Pro version costs $17/month in which it doesn’t provide phone support and premium questions. Allows data exports and generates reports.

  The ultra version costs $49/month has almost all the features except export of data in SPSS, CSV and offline/mobile/tablet capabilities.

    The Enterprise version has all the features mentioned above in the features section.

Who is it for?

   Suits for Organizations which need complex surveys and account management tools

    Suits for surveyors who need targeted respondents


3. Survey Monkey:
Web: www.surveymonkey.com

SurveyMonkey UI


   Supports 15 question types.

   Customizable form/survey creation which allows Surveyors to include their brand identity elements like Logo, Brand Color, etc.

    Helps in targeting the right respondents by giving access to their varied respondent profiles.

    Generates real-time reports, graphs from the response data.

    Provides API called Survey Monkey API.

    Allows question randomization, flipping, random assignment of questions for A/B testing and skip questions logic.

    Helps in text analysis for open responses.

   Allows SPSS integration


    Doesn’t support advanced question types.

    Offline filling of responses is not possible.

    Account Management and user Management tools not available.

   Low value propositions in terms of feature vs price when compared to FluidSurveys.


   Free version allows only 10 questions/survey and only 100 responses.

    Basic version which costs Rs. 490/month has some very basic features only.

   Gold version which costs Rs. 9,900/month has almost all the features except support and some advanced ones.

   Platinum version which costs Rs. 24,900 consists of all the features.

Who is it for?

    Might suit surveyors who don’t need advanced question types and offline response modes.

4. Adobe FormsCentral:
Web: https://www.acrobat.com/formscentral/en/home.html


   Drag and Drop interface for form building

    Allows customization of look and feel in all the version

    Allows real-time editing of forms along with team members.

    Allows page-skip logic

    Allows distribution as fillable PDF

   Allows offline filling of responses.

    Users can use the Data Analysis tools it provides to analyze the data and produce reports.

    Allows different privacy settings where roles can be assigned and each person’s level of access can be decided.

Adobe FormsCentral Form


   Doesn’t have the feature to assessing open-ended questions

    No option of getting targeted responses.


   Free version can be used to create only one form and accepts up to 50 responses

    Basic version which costs 0.99$/month allows only 5 forms and 500 responses per form

    Plus version which costs 11.99$/month allows unlimited forms and around 5000 responses.

Who is it for:

    For Organizations which need customization and features like skip-page logic, this is the most economical option.

    For Organizations which doesn’t need targeted response group.

IV. Project Management Apps:

Project Planning and Management is something SoHos/startups don’t want to spend much time in. They believe in more of “Just Do it” approach and other “Agile” methods. But, Agile doesn’t mean do anything in any order without planning. It suggests to make a plan first with whatever resources available and bring keep changing the plan of execution in an iterative process according to feedback from real-time users/testers.

Hence, standard project management tools like Microsoft project and Hansoft that are very complicated and hard to adapt to are not very suitable. So, lets take a look at some of the most interesting and flexible project management apps that are widely used by SoHos:

1. Trello:
Web: trello.com
Trello works on a project management paradigm known as Kanban where Boards are the projects, Lists (contained in projects) corresponding to categories/classification of tasks and Cards (contained in lists)  are tasks.


    Allows creation of multiple boards which can be used to tackle multiple projects

    In each board, unlimited number of lists can be created depending upon how you want to categorize your tasks. For example, all the UI tasks in one list, bugs in one and development features in one list.

Trello Layout

    Allows addition of unlimited users to a board.

    Allows assigning of team members to a particular card/tasks.

    Allows creation of mini tasks (checklists) inside a card

    Allows setting deadline for each card.

   Allows writing notes, description and comments in each list.

   Allows attachment of documents, images to the cards.

   It keeps a record of all the user activity, comments, movement of cards, etc.

   Real-time changing and creation of cards, lists and checklists by multiple users

    Allows voting on cards which can be used as polls.

    Even when the user is offline, creation and changes can be done and then the data gets synced.

    Provides native mobile/tablet apps which gets synced with the online data

    Allows Google Apps integration

   Allows administrative tools for better assigning and managing of tasks

    Allows bulk export of all the data, tasks and mini tasks.


    Doesn’t allow assigning particular mini-task/checklist to particular member

    Doesn’t allow notes/comments for each checklist/mimi-task

    Can get complicated for midsize and large teams


    Free versions provide almost all the features

   Business class version costs 25$/month or 200$/year and gives google Apps integration, administrative tools and bulk export of data.

Who is it for?

    Startups who work in teams which are less than 10.


    Suitable even to keep track of daily works like maybe like picking up Laundry or documenting cool ideas.

2. Asana:

Web: asana.com
Asana is a user friendly and innovative project & task management application that helps its users maintain, organize and coordinate projects with a group of people.


    A 3 panel interface where the leftmost panel gives a list of projects that you are currently working on and all the people on your team; the middle panel gives an outline of the current project selected and the list of tasks that are to be done as part of this project; the rightmost panel consists of the description of the current task selected.

Three-panel layout Asana

    Allows commenting of all team members on each task and allows assigning task to team members.

    Allows creation of mini tasks and commenting/notes for each mini task also.

  Each mini task can also have super-mini tasks and it also allows commenting/taking notes.

    Other team members who are not assigned the task can be added as followers, so that they can stay updated.

    All the updates from all the tasks and projects comes into your inbox; which can be accessed from the leftmost panel.

    Provides a lot of useful informational video content that explores different ways in which Asana can be used.

    Allows syncing to Google Calendar/iCal 

    Allows attachment of files to each task and mini task

    Allows prioritizing and labeling of tasks in a project


    Asana is very flexible and has the ability to handle big projects with a lot of complexities also in a simple way

    Asana can be used to do a variety of tasks like Bug Tracking and CRM, even though they are not primarily meant to do that

    Allows addition of mini tasks to mini tasks and allows commenting to every level of task

    Making other team members followers of a project is interesting as it keeps everyone updated about what’s going on

    Taking opinions on anything is pretty easy


    The whole layout is pretty standard and doesn’t allow pulling tasks from one project to another

    The UI is not designed in a way where all the tasks and mini tasks of a project are visible at a glance. Has some levels of visibility


    For the free version, you get unlimited tasks and projects; but limited team members can be added.

    For the basic version of $50/month - 15 members can be added.

    $100/month - 30 members and there are various pricing models like this up to 100 members or more also.

Who is it for?

    For teams more than 10 members and who have a lot of complicated tasks which requires mini tasks and super mini tasks, filtering, labeling, etc.

    For individual freelancers also this can be useful if you have huge and complicating projects and require flexibility.

Web: gantter.com


    Integration with Google Drive, through which you can directly create a Gantter project

    The main USP of this app is that it creates real time gantt charts according to the project schedule.

    Create multiple projects and tasks inside a project and update the project status

    Share the projects through Google Drive itself.

    Chat feature available due to Google Drive integration

   Sync with Google Calendar and can attach files and resources to projects and tasks

    Create time estimates and project deadlines.

    Integration with MS project which allows easy import/export of MS project files

    All the user activity if tracked and saved

    Advanced options for creation of Gantt charts like color coding different tasks.

   Multi-lingual support upto 20 languages

    Files can be attached directly from Google drive or DropBox

Gantter UI


    Well organized gantt charts

   Chat feature helps to coordinate with people working remotely

    Integration with Google Apps gives an added advantage of similar interface and other plus point of Google Drive

    Ability to use this offline as an add-on to Google Chrome.


   Manual updation of task progress

    Main focus is on Gantt chart and not on tagging, assigning tasks to co-workers and monitoring

    Interface and design not very flexible.


  •    Its completely free to use
  •     Can be used on Google Apps/Drive or through SmartApps or as an add-on to Google Chrome

Who is it for:

    Teams/Organizations which need tools for project planning and time estimation

    Organization who outsource their work can use this to keep track of the project progress and get an idea of how the project is planned with the help of Gantt charts.

V. Customer Relationship Management:

Customer Relationship management is a key area for any Organization be it B2B or B2C and is also one of the most complicated processes. Handling complaints, queries, trying to keep so many people happy is a difficult process and for a SoHo/startup it can be quite a headache. So, here are a few CRM softwares that can help you ease this thing:

1. Zoho CRM:
Web: https://www.zoho.com/crm/

View of Zoho CRM


    Lets users maintain a list of contacts categorized into different Organizations or groups

    Lets users maintain Leads to each product. leads are considered to be early adopters or potential customers who are showing interest in the product/service.

    This lets the users of Zoho CRm focus on the present and future customers neatly categorized into different demographics.

    Lets users create departments in the software according to the departments present in the Organization

    Provides administrative tools which can be used to grant different levels of permissions to different users of different departments.

    Can assign tasks or specific complaints or modules to specific users in departments.

    Allows users to maintain a specific list of tasks, events and calls.

   Allows customization

    Helps in migration by allowing import of data from other CRM softwares.

    Generates reports on user satisfaction, customer rating

    Integration with other Zoho Apps.


    A little complicated to use and might not suit startups without many departments.


   Free version allows up to 3 users and 500 records and no customization which is suitable for small startups

    Standard version costs $12/user/month and allows customization and 100,000 entries and more features.

    Professional version costs $20/user/month and also allows Email Integration, Role-based security and unlimited records

    Enterprise edition costs $35/user/month and also allows advanced security, time-based actions and help desk integration.

Who is it for?

   The free version can work for startups with 3 or less team members who handle a small group of customers.

    Standard and Professional versions can work for small/Medium Business units.

2. Insightly:
Web: www.insightly.com

Insightly with Google Apps


    Integration with Google Apps, Office 365.

   Lets users import contacts of all the customers and categorize them

   Lets users maintain a list of Organizations and the contacts of key people in each Organization.

   Lets users maintain a list of Opportunities or potential customers/Organizations and keep updated about their activities and remain in touch.

   File Sharing with teammates and customers

    Mass email possible with the help of MailChimp Integration

    Sync with Google Calendar and monitor tasks and important deadlines

    Provides easy administrative tools which helps users in inviting new users, create user permissions, customize, setup pipelines, add custom fields.

    Provides native Mobile/tablet apps

   Inbuilt integration with Twitter through which Organizations can display social media data like Tweets and posts

    Provides API for developers.

    Can be integrated with Insightly’s project & Task management software which makes it an all-in-one software.


    Plans not according to per user. If users are more in number but features required is less, this might not be a good option.


    Free version allows up to 3 users and 200 MB storage and 2500 contacts

    Starter version costs $29/month and allows up to 6 users and 6GB storage

    Advanced version costs $49/month and allows 15 users and 25 GB storage with unlimited contacts and there are various plans depending upon the number of users and storage amounts.

Who is it For?

    Organizations which need all the feature set but have limited number of users in the Organization might benefit from the plans.