Since lockdown, productivity apps have become indispensable in managing remote teams and overseeing businesses. Like most tools, however, picking the right one is essential. How can companies make the right choices and what considerations should managers make when implementing new tools?
Do you really need another app?
Before jumping feet first into a new purchase, it’s wise to ask yourself a few questions. What is it you hope to achieve? Could you accomplish the task with your existing apps? Perform an inventory of your existing apps and tools, you may find that you’re already paying for a service that is perfectly usable. Many apps are extremely versatile. Think of Excel: how many businesses run their databases, spreadsheets, payrolls, and other vital functions, off a simple spreadsheet?
Will this help or hinder my team?
Given the amount of time spent using apps, and the central role they play in working life, it’s worthwhile spending time on getting it right. Australian-based CEO, Lawrence Ellyard, went through several rounds of investigation before settling on his final choices. His firm, The International Institute for Complementary Therapists, found itself in the midst of one of the world’s strictest lockdowns and was forced to pivot to meet the challenges. Ellyard explains, “We had little time to prepare for working remotely and needed to decide on tools for collaboration, communication, accounting, and budgeting. To ensure we chose the right kind of apps, our main criterion was: will this help or hinder our team?”
Does everything have to be ‘cutting edge’?
Ellyard comments, “Some managers feel the need to keep up with the latest developments. Whilst no one wants to be left behind, it doesn’t make sense to use something just because it’s new. Does it help you achieve your goals? Is it compatible with your existing setup? Each new ‘system’ that you introduce can either help you enormously or cause you a major headache.”
Compatibility and complexity are major considerations. If something doesn’t fit with your current workflow, you’ll forever be dogged by awkward workarounds. Apps that are overly complex may require enormous effort to learn, negating any potential efficiencies.
With that in mind, here are the top 5 apps that Ellyard and his team have found to be most useful:
Ellyard’s preferred app for team collaboration. It comes into its own when trying to visualize how work should be done. Lists, Gantt-style charts, and kanban boards allow you to prioritize work according to deadlines. Similar apps include Todoist, Trello and Podio.
This is used for team chats and in-house communication. The customizable messaging app uses ‘channels’, which act as folders for conversations, files, and information related to a specific project. Instead of searching through shared drives, emails, and text messages, you can find everything you need in one spot. The app’s main competitors include Microsoft Teams, Cisco Webex, and Google Workspace.
The ever-popular app that every self-respecting executive will recognize. The app is also a powerful web clipper, sending news items, articles, and websites into their own folder: invaluable source material for reports, speeches, and memos. In recent years, other note-taking apps have emerged to threaten Evernote’s supremacy: Notion and OneNote, in particular.
The tool of choice for ‘dashboards’. The service allows managers to see, at a glance, how the company is performing, no matter what the source of data. Rather than having to log in to several tools, and then collate figures, Databox automatically retrieves data and presents it on one aesthetically pleasing screen. Available across devices, it offers a quick and convenient way of tracking real-time performance.
When it comes to crunching the numbers and reporting to the CFO, Ellyard’s team endorses this powerful app. The market-leading, cloud-based accounting software provides a range of powerful, yet simple, tools to help business owners and managers deal with financial and compliance issues. The app streamlines everyday tasks such as invoicing, producing quotes, reconciling bank accounts, profit and loss, and cash flow.
A final word of advice: never underestimate how attached some employees become to familiar ways of working, panicked at the mere suggestion of a change. Companies should tread carefully when deciding which apps to use, thinking strategically about not only their needs but those of the team.