Improve workflow, collaboration, and time management
Some apps, like Facebook, YouTube, and Pinterest, can lead to a bottomless pit of mindless browsing. A quick 10-minute scroll can turn into hours of lost productivity. Thankfully, there are legitimate tools out there for getting back on track and back to work.
Mobile apps for productivity are on the rise, causing many companies to re-think their IT policies regarding third-party apps and devices. Research shows that companies that give employees the flexibility to use mobile devices at work enjoy a more productive workforce. Of companies that aligned work processes with the use of mobile devices, Avanade found that 73 percent were more likely to report improved sales and 54 percent were more likely to report increased profits than businesses that are not adapting in this way. (For more on this topic, check out our recent whitepaper.)
Whether you work for a company or for yourself, if you're looking to improve productivity in 2017, here are eight apps that improve teamwork, foster collaboration, and help manage time:
For remote workers, Google Drive is an affordable and essential cloud storage solution for documents, images, and other large files that can be shared with individuals or teams. Gmail users can have 15GB of free Google Drive storage before upgrading for a fee. For Chrome users, Google Drive offers an offline mode to view and edit documents without Internet access. Kick your Google Drive efficiency up a notch by organizing your files into color-coded folders and nested folders.
The days of hoarding paper notebooks filled with important meeting takeaways, to-do lists, and research are gone. Evernote allows users to store photos, web pages, PDFs, audio clips, and, of course, notes—even handwritten ones. Evernote's indexing feature makes items searchable and accessible on your device of choice. Free for up to 60MB per month, upgrades beyond the paywall include more storage and sharing features.
Slack has revolutionized the way teams communicate by keeping everyone in the loop and on the same page. Unlike email, where messages can get lost and questions can go unanswered, Slack allows team members to tag each other when items need immediate attention. Discussions can be divided into topic channels that can be open to whole teams or locked for privacy. Slack offers a terrific omnichannel experience so you can communicate in sync across all devices. Slack also integrates with dozens of third-party apps, including Google Drive, Dropbox, GitHub, MailChimp and even Uber. Free accounts come with up to 10,000 searchable messages for teams and individuals, as well as native apps, while reasonably-priced plans offer additional capabilities like unlimited service integrations.
This efficient file storage and sharing service has remained competitive in the cloud storage market with innovations such as an iOS app that allows for scanned documents and photo uploads. Using the plus button, users can also start Microsoft Office documents from their Dropbox files in the iOS app. Newly launched features such as Paper and Smart Sync provide further opportunities for collaboration and team-wide file sharing. Free for up to 2GB of storage, Dropbox Plus is $9.99/month for 1TB, and additional tiers include Pro, Business, and Enterprise.
Trello offers a very user-friendly solution for project management. Simply list your projects in columns, create tasks on cards, and assign them to team members. As the task progresses, drag the cards into stages of completion. Within the app, users can communicate with each other to ask specific questions, confirm items, and resolve issues. Apps for iPhone and Android are available. Trello’s free plan includes unlimited boards, cards, members, and up to 10MB attachments. Advanced plans offer unlimited integrations and larger attachments.
Basecamp was one of the first web-based project management applications to take off, and it’s still widely used today. Although the Basecamp Classic version is still available for pre-existing users, the newest version, Basecamp 3, offers instant messaging, project templates, as well as the option to share status updates with clients, the public, or just keep things private. After a 30-day free trial, plans include either $99/month or $1,000/year, regardless of number of users, teams, or projects, and storage up to 500GB.
There are lots of time and expense tracking apps out there, but Harvest has become an industry standard thanks to its intuitive interface. Track your work by client, project, and task, and produce invoices when you’re done. Harvest even offers a desktop widget and Apple Watch app for extra convenience. Harvest’s free plan include 1 user, 4 clients, and 2 projects, while paid plans range from $12-$99 per month.
Asana is a fairly new productivity app that has been well-received over the past few years. Free for up to 15 users before fees kick in, features include task deadlines, dashboards, message prioritization, private groups, and more. Each week, Asana sends all team members a digest-style email that includes status updates and a progress chart for every project in that member’s dashboard. Free users are limited to three projects on the Dashboard, while Premium users ($8.33 per user per month) are allowed an unlimited number of projects on the dashboard. Third party apps that work with Asana include Google Drive, Slack, Hipchat and MailChimp.