In today’s digital age, you’d think all of the conveniences of fast communication, access to endless information, and scheduling at your fingertips would make it easier to be a business leader. That’s not the case. In fact, 66% of chief financial officers said it’s more challenging to be a company leader today than it was five years ago.
Why? With new innovation comes higher expectations to perform. As work spaces have evolved over time–from remote teams, international offices, and more–so have the tools we need to keep everyone on the same page.
If you’re looking for productivity software that can help your business excel, you’re not alone. Businesses of all kinds are seeking the perfect productivity app—but how will you know when you’ve found it?
Fortunately, we’ve put together a guide that can help you choose the ideal app for your business, from the best productivity tools that serve a specific to purpose to complete project management apps that can be full hubs for teams.
The Best Niche-Specific Apps
Often, work teams need a productivity tool that addresses a pain point. Sometimes you need an answer faster than an email, but your coworker is juggling conference calls. Other times you may need to make sure images are easy to access without having everyone download a giant file. Whatever the day-to-day challenges are, many niche-specific apps can help make your life easier and your company more efficient. Here are some user favorites:
Best App for Note-taking: Evernote
Evernote is a useful way to store notes, documents, and other information. The simple interface, powerful search features, and compatibility with many different file types make Evernote an app that practically every working professional can use to stay more organized. Evernote was created to help companies deal with “information overload” that tended to overwhelm projects. With Evernote, users can create to-do lists, set reminders, and more. What’s interesting about Evernote is while it can be useful for some businesses, it’s more popular for individuals and freelancers to organize daily tasks and priorities.
Best Messaging App: Slack
This may be controversial, as Skype dominated online communication since it’s launch in 2003. While 35% of small businesses still use Slack as their primary messaging tool, Slack’s launch in 2014 changed the market.
Slack makes messaging fun. Although it has only rudimentary calendar features and file-sharing capabilities, Slack comes packed with emojis, widgets, and optional bots that can do everything from setting event reminders to ordering pizza for the office. Besides that, Slack has better search features and makes it easy to create threads within group conversations. It’s no surprise that Slack’s innovative interface has led to 77% of Fortune 100 businesses using it for their work teams.
Best App for File Sharing: DropBox
Where Slack drops the ball on file-sharing, DropBox picks up the… well, Slack. Compatible with practically every type of file there is, DropBox makes sharing documents, images, powerpoints, videos, and other files intuitive and fast. DropBox also has clear tutorials that teach you how to make the most of it as you use it, which gives it a lot of user-friendliness. However, be advised that it’s quite easy for a DropBox account to become cluttered over time—it’s kind of like the virtual equivalent of a communal desk.
Best Calendar App: Google Calendar
Of all the niche-apps, Google works seamlessly from your personal life to your work life. It’s no wonder that many users decide which productivity tools to use based their ability to integrate with Google. What’s the point of downloading a new calendar app, when your Google calendar moves from your desktop to your phone? For large businesses, Google offers Google Calendar for Business with increased security features and give other users access to manage your calendar (like your assistant!)
The Best All-in-One Productivity Apps
Niche-specific apps can be incredibly useful in making communication between your team members move smoothly, but they tend to focus on just one or two aspects of productivity. For most companies, these apps aren’t solutions for tackling the bigger issue: productivity.
How do you keep projects moving and everyone on task? Do you create a task in Evernote with a DropBox link, messaging your team on Slack to review for the meeting coming up in Google Calendar?
It was confusing enough to read that sentence, but we’re sure you’ve faced the real possibility of using 3-5 different tools to complete one project. Plus, if you have any clients involved, there’s another layer of complication.
These project management tools take a blanket approach to productivity, incorporating and unifying the best features of other apps for a seamless, universal experience.
Bronze Medal: Basecamp
Basecamp is a popular project management tool for many smaller businesses, who choose it for its clearly laid-out calendar and ability to set milestones for different tasks. Basecamp is an excellent choice for companies that need to assign multiple tasks of the same kind to numerous different people. As an administrator, you’ll also be able to view different schedules for your clients and employees, which can be extremely valuable. However, Basecamp limits the number of projects or people you can add to it unless you’re willing to pay for their higher-cost plans. As such, it may not be cost-effective for smaller businesses looking for project management tools.
- Simple user interface
- Quick set up
- Easy file-sharing
- Administrative permissions
- Limited plans
- Few features
Basecamp may be worth trying if you have small projects or if you want to create a communication platform for project-based clients. However, keep in mind it is limited and Basecamp’s communication is more about communication rather than task-tracking like our next app…
Silver Medal: Asana
In addition to offering project and task creation, Asana allows for real-time updates, sends notifications and reminders, and even offers automatic email updates. The list of features Asana includes is extensive, but it does have a few drawbacks. For one thing, many people have complained that the interface for Asana is not aesthetically pleasing. That might sound harsh, but consider: it’s not easy to stay productive when you’re staring at a bland interface for hours. Asana could benefit from presenting information in a clearer and more user-friendly way..
- Strong task-tracking
- Recurring tasks
- Calendar sync
- Less time in your inbox
- Rigid user interface
- Heavily text-based
- No multi-person task
Yes, Asana is one of the most popular project management tools on the market. With that said, where Basecamp excels in its user interface–Asana’s can be harder to navigate. Which is why to truly have your team excel and be excited about productivity, you need the best of both worlds.
Gold Medal: Gryffin
Gryffin has one of the best user interfaces: information is arranged clearly, with thoughtful touches like color-categorization and charts on your dashboard that track your tasks and projects. Gryffin also scores points for being flexible and scalable, which makes it useful for businesses of any size. It goes above and beyond in the features department as well, adding built-in invoicing and cloud-storage to standard project management features like assigning tasks, creating calendars, and sharing files.
The Gryffin app is more versatile than the others by facilitating clear communication between users. Project managers can communicate with employees or clients via a convenient team chat system, and clear notifications make sure that messages are always received. The tool also offers email integration, but it hardly seems necessary—Gryffin all but eliminates the need for other communication tools by offering unlimited custom templates that can suit any project.
- Intuitive user interface
- Google drive integration
- Create conversations in projects and within tasks
- Flexible due dates
- Newest app on the market, but maybe that’s a good thing?
Choosing the Perfect Productivity App for Your Needs
Finding the best productivity apps for your company depends on the nature of your work. If you are a small company with a limited scope of operations, you may find that a few niche-specific apps will take you a long way. However, more likely you need one space to work for all of your projects. Finding the perfect productivity app is often times a matter of trial and error. Try out free trials, ask other companies what has worked for them, and of course be mindful of what your team really needs: a place to get work done more efficiently. With luck, you’ll find the perfect app(s) to save you time and bring you success.