Before we talk Outlook replacements, I want to share a couple recent findings. First, suspecting that Outlook 2010's slow, buggy performance was endemic to my PC, I installed it on another system and migrated my PST file (which contains all my data).
Turns out I was right: The program loaded in a matter of seconds instead of minutes, and email indexing worked just fine. Although I'm still peeved by Outlook's performance (or lack thereof) on my primary PC and its hideously complicated settings menus, I've probably been a little harsher than necessary. When it works, and when users take the time to learn and master its many features, Outlook can be a definite asset to a small-business user.
My chief complaints: bugs, bloat, and poor overall performance.
I should have clarified that I'm running Outlook 2010, I don't use Microsoft Exchange, and the plug-ins I referenced have long since been uninstalled (because they didn't work) -- so they're not to blame for the interminable load times.
Phones and tablets can work wonders, but they can't do everything. Sometimes you need the PC you left behind in the office, whether it's to retrieve a document, review an old email, or even run a program.
That's the beauty of remote-access apps: They pipe your PC's screen straight to your phone or tablet, thus affording you the same control as if you were sitting right at the keyboard.
The newly updated LogMeIn iOS app offers free remote access to your PCs. The key word there is "free" -- LogMeIn used to charge $29.99 for its Ignition app, which effectively did the same thing. (Alas, Ignition remains the only LogMeIn option for Android users; the free version hasn't made its way to that platform yet.)
When you have more than a couple people involved in a project, the worst thing you can do is get them all on the phone together. It's not only potentially costly, but also a poor method for communication.
That's why I remain a big believer on online chat rooms, which can be ideal for planning, discussing, and/or reviewing any business endeavor.
There are lots of Web conferencing services that include chat-room capabilities (Join.me and Zoho Meeting come to mind), but many of them require subscriptions, sign-ins, and/or downloads.