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All posts by Benjamin Brandall

20 Useful Applications of AI & Machine Learning in Your Business Processes

A 2017 study from Pew Research found that more than 70% of the U.S. is scared that robots are going to take over our lives. And, while we can’t perfectly predict the emergence of a Skynet singularity, we can say with some certainty that technology is set to take over the repetitive, dehumanizing elements of our jobs instead of putting us out of work.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a strategic priority for 84% of businesses, and in some cases has been used to improve sales team efficiency by over 50%. Even I’ve used AI in the past to generate hundreds of relevant hashtags for social media posts at the click of a button.

It was once the stuff of utopian science fiction and huge enterprises, but now practically anyone can take advantage.

For this post, we will dive into 20 different applications of AI in the real world:

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How to Create a Runbook: A Guide for Sysadmins & MSPs

create a runbook

How do you name a new server, export config data, or fix that one really annoying bug that keeps popping up every 2nd Thursday? Well, create a runbook!

For prepared IT professionals, that information is stored in a runbook. A runbook is a set of standardized documents, references and procedures that explain common recurring IT tasks. Instead of figuring out the same problem time and time again, you can refer to your runbook for an optimal way to get the work done. What’s more, you can also delegate tasks and onboard employees more effectively if you have documentation to train them with.

Whenever you do a task, think of this quote:

“Will you remember how to do these things 6 months from now? I find myself having to re-invent a process from scratch if I haven’t done it in a few months (or sometimes just a few days!). Not only do I reinvent the process, I repeat all my old mistakes and learn from them again. What a waste of time.” — Tom Limoncelli, The Operations Report Card

In short, the less time wasted figuring out how to do a task, the better it’ll be for your business efficiency, productivity, and sanity.

This post will look at:

First, let’s look at two example runbooks to give context on what I’m going to talk about.
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The Best Agile Process To Run An Efficient Software Team

Agile Process

Every team needs an agile process. Or two.

Maybe some teams can get by without strictly following documented processes every day, but when it comes to agile software development teams, it’s simply not an option to operate in the dark.

Since software is complex and easy to mess up, processes mean the difference between a great product and a crappy one. Without processes, software teams will spend more time squashing bugs and dealing with support headaches than they will actually developing the product…

The exact reason we created Process Street is to help businesses avoid that nightmarish cycle, and, of course, we use Process Street ourselves to help run the agile processes behind the scenes.

We use regular agile processes like:

  • Daily standup meeting
  • Sprint planning
  • Sprint turnover
  • Sprint retrospective

We also run routine QA processes like:

  • GitHub pull request procedure
  • Weekly WordPress maintenance
  • SSL certificate renewal

And, finally, we have a set of training processes:

  • Developer onboarding
  • How to set up your development environment
  • Pull request review failed procedure
  • Pull request merge procedure

These are all regular tasks for the team, and the reason they were created was because we found they have a high margin for error.

Scroll down to find the exact processes we use.

If you want to tighten up the way your software team works, hit your sprint targets, and efficiently train new development hires, then this post will show you how. We even reveal the exact processes we use and a workflow diagram detailing the journey an issue takes from start to end.
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Ahrefs vs Moz: The Ultimate SEO Tool Showdown

 

Ahrefs vs Moz

Looking at the pricing pages and marketing material for complex SaaS products can be confusing enough, but comparing two similar products is a real pain on paper.

Which do you choose?

Ahrefs and Moz pricing pages

From just this information, the list of features, and outdated reviews, it’s impossible to make a decision, especially with a very specific set of requirements.

After checking out the features of the major SEO tools, we decided to try Moz and Ahrefs in parallel, getting trials of both on the comparable Medium and Standard plans.

What are our SEO requirements?

Process Street is a young, content-focused startup. Thanks to our content marketing, we’ve been able to grow the company through PR efforts, blog content and guest posts — all without breaking the bank. Finding a powerful tool to analyze just how successful these efforts have been is top priority, to make it less hit-and-miss and shape our SEO strategy in the future.

Here’s what we need from a tool:

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Use this Interactive Project Proposal Template (and Ditch Microsoft Word)

Project Proposal Template

Do you need a project proposal template?

If so, we’re happy to help!

When getting a project approved, you need to submit all pertinent information to stakeholders and then get their approval to start. This means listing the project’s background, timeframes and expenses in an easily digestible document.

Traditionally, this has been done in Microsoft Word or on paper, but by using Process Street you can generate as many proposals as you like just by running a checklist of this template and filling in the form fields. When the stakeholders sign off on the document, all they need to do is click the checkbox next to their name, and Process Street will log the activity.

Check out the project proposal template below, and when you’re done, scroll down for a breakdown of the steps and how it all works:

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Why You Need Customer Service Processes, and How to Get Started Now

Would you agree to fly on a plane knowing that the crew was simply ‘told’ what to do but didn’t use clear guidelines and instructions?

Probably not.

Sadly, that is how many organizations operate today – without realizing that it may result in a wide range of negative consequences, from employee inefficiency to lost customers and profits.

Telling employees what to do is not nearly as effective as having a set of written step-by-step instructions they can follow, explaining how exactly routine operations should be performed. That’s where standard operating procedures, or SOPs, come in.

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How to Write Process Documentation That Helps Your Business Scale (in 5 Steps)

ALT: How to Write Process Documentation That Helps Your Business Scale (in 5 Steps)

We love process documentation.

But what is a process, exactly? Technically speaking, you can boil just about anything down to a process. Here are a few examples of some processes that you might find in your everyday life.

  • Hiring or firing someone
  • Conducting a meeting
  • Creating a weekly blog post
  • Cooking a meal
  • Pouring a glass of milk

Everything is a process, but some are certainly more straightforward than others. Either way, document all of them! Well, maybe not the glass of milk one…

For the rest, let’s look at some process documentation best practices:

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Email Workflows: Best Practices and Examples that Turn Leads into Sales

Alright, so your most recent marketing campaign has generated a ton of interest among your target consumers.

You’ve seen a huge spike in web traffic, mailing list subscribers, and your social media following.

But, despite all this, you still aren’t seeing much of an increase in the area that really matters:

Sales numbers.

It’s a disheartening feeling, for sure – especially considering how high your hopes were after seeing such a huge spike in traffic and engagement.

If it’s any consolation, you’re not alone.

According to data collected by HubSpot, 79% of marketing qualified leads never end up converting. In other words, nearly four of every five people who show a genuine interest in a given brand end up walking away without making a purchase from said company.

Now, one of the main reasons this number is so high is because many companies implement sub-par strategies for nurturing these qualified leads – if they implement lead-nurturing strategies at all.

On the bright side of things, this means that if you focus heavily on nurturing your qualified leads, you’ll almost definitely be doing more than your competitors are in terms of providing value to your target customers.

In this article, we’re going to focus on how to use email workflows as part of your marketing strategy to nurture leads and increase their probability of converting into paying customers.

Before we get into the best practices for creating automated email workflows, we first need to explain exactly what email workflows are, and how using them can benefit your company.

Let’s get started.

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How to Write a Proposal and Get What You Want (Free Templates)

 

A proposal has a lot of different purposes, but there’s only one good way to write one: the way that pulls together all of the information in a concise and persuasive way and helps you get what you want … whether that’s a whole new software system, or just a tweak to your marketing strategy.

This Process Street article isn’t about a business proposal — also known as a quote — but instead about the document required when formally pitching an idea for action and execution by managers or department heads.

To explain how to write a proposal document and get what you want, we’ll go through the following:

Let’s get started.
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How to Create a Weekly Tasks List (And Never Forget a Deadline Again)

When I started at Process Street, I was just a writer. I had the organizational skills of a child, and I was used to delivering a single piece of work at a time. As I was given more responsibilities, I started forgetting my regular tasks and working on whatever seemed important at that moment.

Since every task management system I’ve tried has quickly become crowded and unmanageable, I decided to create a Process Street checklist specifically for my recurring weekly tasks.

Now, I get a simple list of tasks in my Process Street inbox every week. As I work through them, I can track my weekly progress and use the checklist as a way to report my work to my manager. You can do the same, and it only takes about 10 minutes.

Here’s my checklist:

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