Best Time Management Apps for Product Team
Time has long been called the most precious resource and asset that we all possess and life can change drastically for us depending on how we use this asset. Time management has been a focus of tireless research, innovation and investment for several decades now – professionals in every industry realized how much depends on one’s ability to consciously control the amount and efficiency spent on each particular task. So, today work-life balance is more about how smart you play rather than how hard you do it.
This efficiency however doesn’t come easy. Project creep, looming deadlines, procrastination and every possible life distraction seem to become more powerful with each passing day and the very pressure to be productive, efficient and focused adds to that power.
Luckily, there is an abundance of resources available – from literature to time management apps – to defeat the beast of distraction and organizing product software development team time. The internet is a treasure trove of research done on time management skills and converted into applicable time management tools available to anyone interested.
In this article, we’d like to get better acquaint ourselves and you with the best time management apps and tools out there. Let’s look at time trackers, task management tools, apps that help you organize meetings, share files and communicate within your project, product team or company.
The reality is: people don’t like logging in and tracking the time they spend on a task or project. It’s a hassle and makes one feel like their every move is being watched. However, from a business standpoint, time tracking is a very important part of the product team’s success and not even for the reason you’re thinking.
Most companies understand perfectly well that an employee doesn’t want their every minute of work observed and documented and frankly, most businesses don’t really care to know how you do your work as long as it is done well. Keeping track of time spent on every task simply helps the people in charge organize time and resources within the company better and in a more efficient manner. Knowing how much you spend on a particular task gives the company data it can use to actually optimize your workflow.
Tracking time can help determine how much deliverables cost your business and help price your services strategically; it can show how much effort is put into a given project, whether a team has potential to improve or take on additional work without being overwhelmed and actually drop inefficiency.
Here are some of the best time-tracking apps available and well-loved by a plethora of successful businesses.
Pros: This is a clean and easy time management software that its basic version is also free to use and offers a spectrum of functions. It allows for the unlimited amount of users and can help you keep track of your team’s timesheets and billable hours if there’s an hourly rate in place, project completion, reports, schedules and more. It will also generate weekly, monthly & annual reports for your team. Clockify remains the cleanest and perhaps most user-friendly app for those basic features you need when it comes to time tracking.
Cons: Even though there is no support for invoicing with Clockify and it may lack some of the more advanced features other apps for time management possess.
Pros: If not the most elegant of all the time tracking apps, RescueTime is definitely user friendly and provides its users with a variety of functions, such as device, app and website tracking, distraction blocking, customizing your own working hours and productivity pulse. It also allows you to set your own goals and generally is quite personalized.
Cons: It might take you a bit of time to configure the app to your personal needs, but once that’s done, it serves you loyally.
RescueTime is not free but the reviews do encourage investing in this particular one.
Pros: Another app worth looking into for your business is Toggl. It’s revered for being intuitive and user-friendly. You can organize your work by project/client and the reporting system is comprehensive and easy to navigate.
Cons: The shortcoming that the Toggle development team has not tackled yet is allowing Toggle to work with more apps and systems. It’s not too developed as a plugin yet, but hopefully, they can log in more time to work in this direction.
Not the cheapest option, but worth the investment for some, Timely is a time-tracking app often used by companies to organize internal productivity. It’s easy to implement, manage and get comprehensive reports. The AI mechanism is what sells this app to businesses because the algorithms it employs do get fantastic reviews from clients regarding the improved efficiency of their employees. The mobile app for Timely still has a way to go in terms of improvement and there are occasional bugs resulting in time loss, but overall feedback on the app is quite positive.
Managing a team of 5 people is already not an easy task, what’s there to say when we’re talking about managing hundreds of people? There are so many things that need to be organized, personalized and generalized at the same time – a human mind is a powerful machine but it can do with some help from its mechanical counterpart.
There is so much that needs to be taken into account when managing a successful business. You need to optimize resources, track budgets, assess risks, execute capacity planning and follow every project’s progress in order to record and report it. Time management tools have been all the rage in recent years as companies grow to realize how much can actually be done with time and well-managed resources.
Here are some apps to help your business with task management:
Pros: Perhaps the most popular time organizer out there used by small companies and big corporations, Trello incorporates organizational features galore. Trello will help you distribute tasks, set deadlines and control the outcomes. Trello creators constantly update and improve the toolkit to make task management easier and smoother. The organization options given by the app is spectacular which also makes keeping up with consistency more effective and in real-time, too.
Cons: The app is free but cannot be used offline which sometimes presents challenges along with the fact that storage is limited on the free version and might not suffice for some business’ needs.
Pros: Asana is a popular software among those who need their work organized and managed. It also comes with a free plan which sometimes is the decisive element for a company that’s on a tight budget. It’s well-integrated in other services which makes it that much more appealing, while also having great storage security which cannot be underestimated in our day and age of digital crime. Asana’s dashboards are customizable and prioritize efficiency and productivity. That is why even the smallest task you’ll have will have a deadline, a progress report and reminders.
Cons: The app isn’t perfect, however. There’s no time tracking tool integrated into Asana and while some features are quite expanded others aren’t very flexible – for instance, tasks can only be assigned to one person at a time. On top of that, there’s limited exporting functionality that poses some syncing struggles at times.
Pros: Smartsheet is a cloud-based service in essence similar to Microsoft Excel, but “smarter”. The interface is simple and the learning curve is small, so introducing it won’t be a hassle. Its main goal is to become a hub for all your company’s projects and tasks while also to offer you some industry trend metrics and a file-sharing system. SmartSheet’s mobile functionality is also something worth noting compared to other similar tools
Cons: All this functionality won’t come cheap though. With a $25 monthly plan for businesses, it might not be within your budget. It also lacks a time-tracking feature which sets it back a few steps as a versatile tool. For a tool that wants to be better and build upon what Microsoft Excel offers, SmartSheets also falls a little short. Some of the formulas used in Excel aren’t available here and users have noticed that.
Pros: Another software worth looking at when choosing your task managing tool is WorkFront, especially if you’re a big organization with a large count of employees. WorkFront deals well with complexities of big business and is a robust management platform with high levels of customization, access permission and transparency which allows it to plan, manage, and measure works better based on data.
Cons: Some of the disadvantages pointed out by the users are the not-so-intuitive layout of the tool which results in quite a time-consuming setup. It can also be difficult to find your task without knowing precisely where to look and what project it’s associated with. Generally speaking, the attributes and required fields can sometimes be a tad too overwhelming, but sometimes this just comes with a large and multilayered organization.
A universal truth is: time management scheduling saves everyone’s time. Working in a team, one of the most important and success-promising things one needs to keep in mind is respecting each other’s time. This is why keeping a healthy meeting scheduling pattern will yield your team better results.
Scheduling all your meetings ahead will help you and your colleagues efficiently plan your working days, weeks and even months. Meeting schedulers are here to help your team. There are a few helpful software that will make sure nobody on your team will miss important calls, video conferences, product meetings or teambuilding. These apps will keep all your meeting information in one place and help you prioritize the most important work aspects significantly reducing re-focusing time for every team member.
Here are some schedulers we found to have the best feedback out there.
Pros: In the light of our recent and rapid shift to working remotely due to the raging pandemic, one of Calendly’s most appealing features is its seamless integration with Zoom, Google Calendar, Outlook and Office 365. This time organizer is also very well customized for desktop and mobile, has an elegant and user-friendly design and can handle a lot of tasks simultaneously.
Cons: Some users would like to see some more functionality from Calendly, but the simplicity, automation and ease of use are really what the development team behind the app was really betting on when creating this personal scheduling app.
Pros: This app is a productivity tool competing for its place in the sun among other prominent tools. Its prose includes group scheduling, easy cross-app integration and smooth sync between calendars. Its user-friendly interface also wins clients over.
Cons: While it syncs well across calendars available, MeetingBird doesn’t support too many calendar integrations and has received complaints about how well it works across browsers. The app’s support is limited to just email and definitely takes a toll on customers’ satisfaction, too.
Pros: This guy is a slightly different personal scheduling app since it relies on AI and Machine learning that helps the tool learn and optimize your schedule the more you use it. The app offers a robust free plan and a two-factor authentication system making it extra secure. It also analyzes your meetings and people you’re in those meetings with, providing reports on said meetings.
Cons: The tool also falls short on app integration, however. There are fewer scheduling features, so you need to make sure you know what exactly you need out of your scheduling tool and what you can sacrifice. Given that the app is powered by AI, quite a steep learning curve is implied before you can take advantage of all the tool’s capabilities.
Pros: While most scheduling tools are solely business-oriented, Doodle makes it easy to block off personal and professional time within one app. In its essence, Doodle is an app used for polls but this is how it’s also used to make sure every meeting attendee is available and informed. Doodle is a secure platform and is well integrated across popular apps while also being mobile-friendly.
Cons: Even though there’s a free plan, it might bother some users that the free version is ad-supported and doesn’t really have any advanced capabilities. However, even with its simplicity, it can sometimes get hard to manage if the polls become many and similar in their essence.
Team Chat Apps:
Communication is paramount to teamwork, especially today when this teamwork often needs to happen remotely and every team member is anywhere between a few kilometres to thousands of miles away from each other. Communication culture is a key factor in your project’s future success, so it’s essential that you and your team take advantage of any tool, tactic or hack to establish a clear, friendly and professional communication protocol.
Having a team chat eases and secures communication. It lets your team talk in real-time, share files and address issues on the go. All of this reduces the need for extra meetings and their unproductive time portion, increases productivity and creates an environment of engagement and understanding.
Here are a few app examples you and your team might want to give a try:
Pros: Slack has been a go-to platform for internal business communication for many companies and deservingly so. It’s available on any device and is instantly synced across all of them. Its interface is simple and easy to navigate while its features go far beyond just a chatting tool. There are multiple subscription options from free to really advanced yet not too expensive. It’s also well-integrated across other platforms and is well-loved for its versatility.
Cons: Like any other digital creation, Slack is not perfect. Sometimes there’s a delay in receiving messages and the app’s support has received some ambivalent reviews but while there are improvements to be made, Slack remains a flagship in the business communication game.
Pros: If your business is a Microsoft 365 user you might want to give this chat app a try. Microsoft Teams comes at no additional costs to the 365 users and is in fact used but quite a lot of big businesses. It allows for seamless file search, backup and team collaboration, there are helpful bots that will rid you of boring and mundane tasks that can be automated, and generally, it’s quite nice to have all your work-related stuff gathered in one big platform.
Cons: One however can get slightly overwhelmed by the number of similar tools the platform offers and no unified product search available. If you and your team only need a chat app, this might be a little too much in terms of unnecessary storage consumption and not-yet-perfected notification center. It’s also important to remember that MicrosoftTeams has the number of channels limited to 200 public and 30 private ones per team.
Pros: Discord was created and developed around and for the gaming community but has long surpassed that limiting stereotype. More and more businesses are looking into using the app as their communication platform due to its security, stability and functionality. The tool is well suited for chat purposes but its stronger suit is perhaps the quality of the voice communication. It allows multiple channels and has small but important features of pinging a particular person within the chat and adjusting the volume of every given call participant if the levels are mismatched.
Cons: There are areas left for improvement here, too, though. The tool could use more customization freedom and a better alert system as well as an improved search function. It’s important that you know exactly what specific features you’re looking for when you decide on your internal communication tool.
Another option to turn to if your team is in need of a chat app is MatterMost. This is a more casual agent with lots of fun features like emoji, gifs and other entertainment-oriented perks.
Users often describe it as fun and enjoyable, and while it’s quite functional (with a free version, too) and the open-source community around Mattermost is rather nice, most reviews include feedback such as “nice” or “funny”, so it seems like there aren’t too many expectations for the app, so whatever is being offered is deemed good enough.
Online File Sharing Apps:
Lots of us have moved to a remote work model and no longer share physical space or a common server with our colleagues. Stuffing emails with files and jamming each other’s mailboxes with heavy attachments is long frowned upon and keeping track of the latest version of this or that document wastes a lot of time. File sharing systems have been needed and have made our work and study lives so much easier. Files are always up to date and you don’t need to look for the latest version and doubt yourself and your colleagues; all files are available 24/7 to every team member; nobody’s mailbox is crammed with heavy files, and you don’t waste time waiting for your teammate to share a file with you.
Here’s a list of some of the best online file sharing apps:
Pros: Chances are, you’ve already used Google Drive, if not for work, then for personal use. It’s free, it’s pretty straightforward to use, it’s got a variety of storage plans to fit any and all. Even though you need a Google account to use the free 16 GB of storage, it seems like pretty much everyone has a Gmail these days. Files can be edited in real-time and access can be made very specific, so only those who need to have access to a file will have it. It supports a variety of file formats and the most common are integrated with google files through Docs, Sheets and Slides.
Cons: Though it’s easy to navigate, sometimes it’s hard to get rid of files on google drive and it might take you some additional time to make sure a file is deleted. It’s also a challenge to find what’s using up space on your Google Drive at times. Apart from this, the Drive is heavily reliant on the quality of your internet connection and that can sometimes spoil the experience a tad.
Pros: An alternative option for file sharing is HighTail. It’s an app that’s quite straightforward and well-liked by the users. It’s a good free option for sharing files that are too large to email and keeping them all in one place while also organizing them according to your own system. It’s often used to send files for print and the files are easily tracked.
Cons: Some say that the whole system with expiring links can add some hassle because the expiration time can be too short. Just in general, the whole link sharing is the only option to give someone access to the updated file makes the whole app just a little slower and bothersome. Another disclaimer: Safari users don’t get to take advantage of the folder uploads and that’s a shortcoming given how many people use i-products these days.
Pros: Box can win you over with its UX and UI. The app is very tidy and that can be decisive for some. The file sharing is fast and the mobile version is, too, user-friendly and neat. File security is also a top priority for Box developers, so you can easily control who can see a given file or folder. Some have called Box the “corporate Dropbox” and that says a lot.
Cons: Just as Drive, Box has its own file creating function but it’s not nearly as useful as the one within Google Docs since it doesn’t have the same functions as Office. This makes the platform good for file sharing but editing files or creating new ones could be cumbersome and time-consuming with a much lower functionality in the end.
Pros: Microsoft needed to create competition for Google’s breakthrough with the Drive and Docs, so OneDrive came to be. It’s a reliable file sharing and editing system that benefits from a direct relation to the Office suite which, let’s face it, everyone uses at one point or another. You can link your OneDrive to the social media accounts and other services which makes it a very large organism you can take advantage of. The sync is fast and the storage can expand up to 5 TB. There’s also OneDrive for Business that comes with advanced features and add-ons.
Cons: All this comes at a price, of course, and some users do find the costs associated with OneDrive unreasonable. There are some security concerns raised when it comes to working from an open-access network. Unlike Google Drive, OneDrive does not allow syncing multiple Microsoft accounts onto the same computer which might not be a big deal for some but quite annoying for others. All in all, if you’re operating strictly within a Microsoft environment, OneDrive might be a good file sharing partner, but once you go outside of the Microsoft bubble, you’ll run into some sync issues that might turn you entirely off this platform.
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