Simple ways to make your team more efficient
When teams use the right tools to work together, they can make huge gains in productivity – and the final outcome. Developing new ideas, solving problems and getting things done more efficiently sounds great. But with an ever-growing list of apps and programs available, where do you begin?
We’ve rounded up nine of the best tools that really work for small and medium businesses – covering some old favourites and new options.
The popular chat-driven collaboration tool Slack ($6.67/$12.50 per user per month, free plan available) was created to simplify business communication and reduce meetings and unwieldy email threads.
It’s useful for both in-house and remote teams. You can organise chat threads and topics into channels, and upload and share documents for discussion.
Slack automatically archives every conversation, and your archive is searchable – so there’s a written record of every conversation. It also integrates with a huge range of other productivity apps, and can work seamlessly across multiple devices, platforms and operating systems.
While Slack works well on a small scale, some organisations might benefit more from a more structured platform – something like enterprise social network Yammer (from $3 per user per month), which is intended for team building as much as communication.
Like Slack, Yammer lets you organise chat threads into relevant groups. It also gives each user their own profile, integrates with MS Office and SharePoint allowing collaboration on documents, and keeps users updated on projects in their feed.
If the social network model appeals, it’s also worth keeping an eye on Workplace ($1–3 per user per month), the recently launched enterprise version of Facebook, too. With a lot of the familiar, well-loved features of the main Facebook site (and totally separate from users’ personal accounts), its interface should come naturally to many employees – cutting back on the cost of training staff in a new platform.
Meet more efficiently
Communication tools like Slack could curb time-wasting meetings. But when a face-to-face is needed, there are some good tools available to make them as effective as possible.
Do ($10 per user per month, free plan available) is a standout. You can think of it as a checklist of things to do before, during and after a meeting to make sure everyone’s time is spent as productively as possible. Set agendas, keep notes, create outcome lists, and track and follow up on the progress of those outcomes – all from the one platform. It’s archived and searchable, which keeps everyone accountable. And the insights feature lets you track the time (and money) you spend on meetings.
If you need to meet remotely, try Google Hangouts – part of G Suite ($5/$10 per user per month). Hangouts lets you make voice and video calls straight from your computer or mobile device, hold videoconferences, and live-stream meetings. It also has a built-in accountability feature, with the ability to revisit past Hangouts.
Collaborate in the cloud
Gone are the days of in-house server maintenance. Businesses of all kinds now store their files and data in the cloud, quickly and securely sharing them between multiple devices and users.