The world of the app or software developer is by necessity jam packed and busy. What’s more, if you happen to be the project manager (PM) of a development team, then you can quickly find yourself being bogged down in swathes and swathes of correspondence, leaving you very little time to actually get on with the job at hand.
In a lot of circumstances, you may very well find yourself ending up with various remote teams that are perhaps dotted all over the world. Indeed, your client may also be from overseas, and therefore trying to maintain open and streamlined channels of communication can prove to be very challenging indeed.
Communication, however, is of utmost importance to the success of any given project, and it is arguable that ensuring that clear communication pathways are established between all team members and clients is the most important role of the PM.
Collaboration – A Modern Day Necessity
The complex business environment that we all inhabit today – especially in the development world – means that working with remote teams is no longer the exception, but increasingly becoming the norm. Outsourcing all or parts of a development project makes lots of business sense – not only for the savings that can be made via offshoring or nearshoring, but also because there is an ever-expanding pool of talent emerging from some of the farthest corners of the globe, with Poland being a particular case in point.
Furthermore, since the world has shrunk down to a miniscule size with the evolution of the internet, the likelihood is that a significant amount of your clients will not even be located domestically. Indeed, online businesses are global businesses, and that means that you may very well find yourself headhunted for your expertise by clients from all corners of the globe.
This revolution of the decentralized workspace is only set to keep growing and expanding as the internet age continues to spread its techy tendrils far and wide.
The seemingly immortal and cosmically successful entrepreneur Richard Branson agrees:
“In 30 years time, as technology moves forward even further, people are going to look back and wonder why offices ever existed.”
Making Remote Collaboration Possible
The online office revolution has only been made possible by – well, internet tools, of course. Indeed, these days there are literally hundreds if not thousands of apps available to the eagle-eyed PM who’s looking for some online tools that can make the whole process of communicating and collaborating with geographically disparate team members and clients become more streamlined.
Let’s face it – email is handy for quick communications, but it’s a little over-exploited these days, and thusly inboxes are generally jam packed full of junk. Put simply, it isn’t an efficient means of communication any longer.
The phone call, too, isn’t always the most convenient method of correspondence. The people who you’re working with could be located halfway around the planet, in a completely different time zone, just getting up to start the working day at the same time as you’ve already been snuggled down in bed for the past 2 hours. And the same, of course, goes for video conferencing.
That being said, weekly calls with your team members and clients are advised – the ability to exchange information with one another in real time can ensure that everyone is working from the same page. But, following the call, it should then be down to the PM to ensure that a full summary of the information exchange has been completed and shared amongst all involved – and there are some great web apps and tools that can help to enable just that, amongst lots of other things as well.
So, without further ado, let’s now take a look at the top 6 team management apps and tools that can streamline your communication pathways and supercharge your productivity.
Top 6 Team Management Tools To Supercharge Your Productivity
Trello is one of the simplest-to-use visual-based team management platforms available. The interface is extremely intuitive, and shouldn’t take anyone using the platform more than about 5 or 10 minutes to get to grips with it with only the minimal amount of instruction.
The main function of Trello is to organise projects throughout their various stages or iterations. Users can create boards, and on those boards they can create lists, and on those lists they can create cards. Cards contain information and attachments – files, documents, images etc. As each task is completed, the card can be moved from one list to the next, so all members can view its progress.
It really is that simple.
2. Realtime Board
Realtime Board describes itself like this:
“RealtimeBoard is an endless flexible space, easily customizable for your purposes. Use it as a simple whiteboard for jotting down ideas, or build a whole project on the board remotely with your team.”
Similar to Trello, but a lot more flexible, Realtime Board is the perfect tool for helping teams to brainstorm and communicate ideas. It’s endlessly helpful to invite the client to view and even contribute to the boards as well. Every member of a particular Board can write notes, draw sketches and create diagrams – and communications can be made in real-time.
This is another collaboration tool, which, although does share some similarities with Trello, it does actually go down a different route.
Instead of presenting you with boards, lists and cards, Droptask presents the user with ‘drops’. For each task – or stage of a task – a ‘drop’ can be created, colour coded, and then marked as in progress, on hold or completed. Furthermore, subtasks can be added to any individual task, comments can be left and files can be attached.
Just as with Trello, mobile apps are available so that projects can be viewed on the move.
Slack is one of the very best of the bunch listed here. Online communication and team collaboration is made extremely efficient and streamlined with this app, which can be downloaded for the web as well as mobile and tablet.
All messages can be posted in one place, and access to all chats can be gained from both desktop and mobile devices. It’s also possible to segment chats so that communication can take place between only a few team members, or between client and PM.
Images can be sent, files, documents, videos, and the app integrates seamlessly with the likes of Google Drive, Twitter and Dropbox.
Disputes over billing are of course not uncommon, and if you’re charging your customers an hourly rate then things can start to get very confusing very quickly.
Remembering to look at the clock every time you start work on a particular project, and then checking it once again when you finished is not a guarantee.
Thankfully, there’s Toggl – a web app that monitors and tracks the time spent on various projects and allows users to analyse productivity – so there can be no slacking!!
This is great for a PM who wants to monitor how long employees are spending on each project, and your clients are continuously kept in the loop as to how much they’re spending on labour hours to boot. Timesheets can be generated at any time, and, at the end of each month a comprehensive sheet detailing the precise hours of work can be easily formed and forwarded onto clients with an accompanying invoice. What’s more, it syncs beautifully with other tools such as Trello as well.
The quirkily named iDoneThis is actually a brilliant tool for keeping all team members up to date with their individual progress. Team accountability is of course one very important aspect of any collaboration project, and iDoneThis enables just that.
The concept is actually very simple. Once every member of your team (and client, if you wish) has signed up, each individual receives an email at the end of each working day asking them exactly what they have achieved. Team members can then just take a couple of minutes to write their reply, and the following morning, everyone gets a summary right in their inbox.
For project managers, this is an invaluable tool for keeping a close eye on all members of remote and in-house teams. iDoneThis gives you the ability to scroll back through time to see who’s been keeping ahead of the game, and who’s been falling behind.
This is the sort of app that will allow you to save lots and lots of time on team progress meetings, as all of the relevant information can be summarised simply and quickly in a short email to be read every morning before work starts.
This tool does not at present come with any downloadable mobile apps, but, since it’s perfectly possible to access and write emails on mobiles anyway, this isn’t a problem.