Monthly Archives: October 2020

2020 has forced the whole world to work remotely. It has also made people realize that remote work works. But remote work is not all rainbows and unicorns. It is a challenging feat to pull off. It can be difficult to keep your head around managing a distributed team. But if you have the right productivity tools in your magazine, you can cultivate an empowering, rewarding, and effective remote work environment for your team.

While you will see many remote productivity tools on the web, we’ve rounded up the best ones to bring your team’s remote work experience to a new level. Let’s check each of these productivity tools and how they benefit your remote team. 

Productivity Tools for Remote Work

Team Collaboration Tools

Collaboration can be tricky when you need to keep work flowing smoothly despite geographical distance and time differences. Everything must be accessible to everyone at any given time. Communication must be instantaneous and seamless. This helps teams get an experience as close to how they would normally collaborate with their teammates when they’re co-located. Invest in these productivity tools to ensure there are no blockers to team collaboration.

Team Chat App

Slack is widely used by remote teams worldwide. It’s easy to set up and organize topics into channels. Direct messaging is also seamless. You can bring all the project discussions into one place. You can also make calls and screen share within Slack. 

Cloud Storage and File Sharing App

This might be a close call between Google Drive and Dropbox. Both are widely used by remote teams for its ease of use and accessibility. Even with a free plan, you get a generous amount of storage to start with. You also get full control of how you share your files. 

Read Best Tools To Support Remote Work in 2020

Video Conferencing App

Zoom is a strong contender for this one. I find video calls in Zoom are more stable than other apps. It’s a reliable option, especially for big team video meetings. You can also do screen sharing and collaborate on an online whiteboard. You can use Zoom Breakout Rooms to split your discussions into groups if you ever need to have smaller focused groups.

Video calls are far more effective than communicating through email or a phone call. You can see your teammates’ gestures and expressions and makes you feel more connected to them.

Connectivity

Stable and consistent connectivity is important for remote teams. These productivity tools will help your team stay connected anywhere and anytime they need to.

Mobile Hotspots or Pocket WiFis

While your teams may have reliable and fast internet at home, it’s recommended to have a backup. This ensures everyone can get to work anywhere or when their internet home connection is down. Your teammates should check with their local internet providers and see what options are available. What I usually do is ask for recommendations from my teammates living nearby or through online remote workgroups I’m a member of.    

Remote Desktop App

There will be times when your teams will need to access their office desktop remotely. If this is a requirement, having a remote desktop app will be beneficial. Some popular options are TeamViewer and Chrome Remote Desktop

Security

You need to ensure all your team files and assets are secure and only those who have authorized access can get into your systems. Security tools are one of the most important productivity tools your team needs to have. With security in mind, maximum productivity is achieved.

Password Manager

There are free and paid apps that your team can use. A popular paid option is Dashlane. It even comes with a VPN and secure file storage. It can even scan the dark web for data breaches and will notify you if your data has been compromised. But it can be a little pricey. So another option to look at is LastPass. It comes with a free version and even has multi-factor authentication as an added security layer. Even with the paid version, it’s still reasonably priced. 

Multi-factor Authentication

Most apps come with two-factor or multi-factor authentication and we highly encourage your teams to enable this feature. When generating tokens, you can use an authenticator app such as Google Authenticator

VPN

While we strongly discourage using public Wi-Fi when working remotely, sometimes it cannot be helped. But when using public networks, security can’t be guaranteed. To keep your remote teams secure wherever they are, require the use of Virtual Private Networks (VPN). VPNs create secure tunnels that mask or encrypt any data you send and receive on the fly. For all these security-related productivity tools, check with your IT department on the best options.

Time Management

Time management can be difficult when working remotely. It can be challenging to establish a fine line between your house chores and your work responsibilities when you work from home. This is why time management is very important. Productivity tools that focus on time management help you get more done with whatever time you have. 

Time Tracking

Time trackers shouldn’t be seen as the ultimate gauge of productivity. Instead, it should be seen as a tool to understand the time consumed on work and how best to improve it. If you’re a team manager, having your team members track their time while they work remotely can provide valuable insights as to where their time is being spent on. You can then review with them how it aligns with their goals. You may also see some indicators of work inefficiency through time data. Time Doctor and Restyaboard are some of the well-known team time tracking apps in the market. It also has reporting and analytics that will come in handy for remote team managers.

Scheduling

I’m a firm believer in the saying, “What gets scheduled gets done.” Anything else that pops up in the middle of the day that is NOT in your schedule, shouldn’t be your main focus. Scheduling and planning are essential productivity techniques that remote workers should master. It’s hard to stay motivated when working alone. So you have to encourage your team to develop discipline and structure. 

We recommend using a calendar app that’s already integrated with your other work tools such as your email. This way, it’s easier to sync them to your other activities like meeting invites, events, and other alerts.

Task Management

Every team should have a task management tool, especially for your remote team. Your task management tool should be easily accessible, secure, and has the right features to encourage collaboration within your project teams right then and there. It’s one of the productivity tools remote teams can’t live without as this essentially becomes their virtual office. 

Restyaboard is a project and task management tool that allows teams to collaborate on projects in one place. It’s a highly visual tool that enables teams to maintain transparency and achieve seamless collaboration. Restyaboard is much more than just a Kanban board. It’s built around the Kanban methodology and has rich and easy-to-use features that bring out the in-person work experience into the virtual setting. What’s great about this is you not only have a productivity tool, but you and your team will also have a framework to manage your work.

Focus

One of the key elements to productivity is maintaining focus. Our attention gets challenged every second. There are plenty of distractions especially when you work from home or remotely. What may seem to be a harmless 5-min check on your Social Media feed could turn out to a 30-min waste of time. Focus apps are essential productivity tools to instill discipline and accountability. 

I like using the Pomodoro Technique especially during times when I need to engage in deep work. You can use any online timer available or even use a physical one that you’d put on your desk. You could also explore focus apps that limit your access to and alerts from social media apps and even your email inbox. The important thing is to keep unnecessary distractions to a minimum or none at all when you need to focus on work. Share these focus-centered productivity tools with your remote team to supercharge their efficiency.

Automation

Repetitive manual tasks can be a pain. If a task is done repetitively and routinely, there’s a big chance it can be automated. Your team can then spend that time doing more meaningful work. Automation means taking your time back and letting technology steer the wheel. Automation tools are undoubtedly one of the top productivity tools every remote team should have.

Discuss with your remote team what process steps are candidates for automation. Some examples would be consolidating information and transferring task lists from one system to another. After you’ve identified your candidates for automation, explore automation tools such as IFTTT or other web-based service apps that enable system integration without or with minimal coding involved.

Employee Engagement

Happiness and engagement at work affect employee productivity. As a remote team manager, you should also stay on top of your team’s overall well-being. Remote working can be tough on your team’s mental health, so it’s important to check with them every so often. It’s also best to have programs that are designed to encourage employee engagement. 

Virtual Team Building

Who says remote workers can’t have fun? It’s all about being creative and resourceful. Even though your team is not co-located, schedule team-building activities every so often. You can use your video chat tool to facilitate this event and use an online whiteboard to do some charades or to do some team quizzes. 

I also encourage you to schedule virtual celebrations for team and project milestones. This will help your team feel more connected to the rest of the company and stay engaged. 

Rewards and Recognition 

It’s always a different feeling when you’re recognized for a job well done. And it’s these kinds of things that can easily get forgotten when working remotely. But it’s one of those “indirect” productivity tools that will help managers reap more rewards. When employees are appreciated, they are encouraged to do better. This creates a culture of meritocracy and makes your employees feel they are contributing to the company even if they’re working remotely. 

Rewards and recognition tools can be as simple as sending virtual gift cards to your top performers and recognizing them during your virtual town halls. You can also go a step further and use a rewards and recognition platformApart from peer to peer recognition and in-app rewards, it also has social media and gamification that makes a fun and innovative engagement program.

Investing in Productivity Tools for Remote Workers

If you want your remote team to succeed, you need to invest in the right productivity tools to support them. And whether you like it or not, remote work is here to stay. More companies will shift to this model and more employees will expect and demand flexible working arrangements. But having the right productivity tools is only half the battle. Your remote teams should also have the right mindset when it comes to productivity. You need to make them realize that these tools are not meant to restrict them but to empower them and bring team collaboration to a whole new level. This will create a culture that’s uplifting, empowering, and productive for remote work.

In this article, we provide a list of Project Management Tools that can be used by any startup company to develop a highly productive organization.

Starting a new company or working for a startup is exciting and nerve-wracking in equal parts. Budgets are often tight in a startup environment and the traditional processes that keep companies going are often lacking. Such a productive work atmosphere can be punished for even the most experienced employees because there will always be new problems to tackle and insufficient resources to tackle them.

Most how-to books will tell you that it takes a combination of hard work, good employees, and enough funding for a startup to succeed. But most of these books do not address the project management tools that the best entrepreneurs in the world use to organize and manage their companies. That is why we have gathered this list of project management tools that can be used by any startup company to develop a highly productive organization.

1. Work Management / Task Management Software

In reference to collaboration, there is one proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” This is particularly true in the start-up world, where having a strong collaborative culture is a key to success.

To achieve success as a team, all employees need to move in the same direction and work towards the same goals. Smart entrepreneurs have figured out that using a collaborative work management tool is the way to achieve this.

Work Management Software

“Work management” is a relatively new form of software designed to provide a central place for teams to digitally collaborate and work together. Work management software combines project management, task management, document management, and communication into one place to get all employees on the same track.

Restyaboard has a task list view, which displays all of the tasks related to a project, along with key metrics.

Benefits of Using Work Management Software

  • Keep things From Getting Lost in the Shuffle: Startups are fast-paced and dynamic, so there’s always something new that needs attention. Without a central collaboration tool, employees find their own ways to keep track of their to-do lists, which may lead to tasks not being completed and general frustration. This problem is resolved by a central collaboration platform.
  • Get More Visibility: Startup employees are always busy taking care of their work and do not always have time to communicate with management and keep them in the loop. When all work is managed and tracked in one place, managers can see everything that their employee is working on, eliminating the need for constant check-ins.
  • Improve Accountability: A central work management platform ensures that all employees are accountable for their work. When management can quickly see what all team members are working on, underperforming employees cannot fly under the radar. Conversely, this provides another way for management to recognize their best and most efficient employees.

2. Kanban Boards for Building Workflows

It is necessary to establish visual processes in a start-up environment that serve as guidelines for employees to follow to be successful. The use of Kanban board software is one of the best ways of creating these processes.

Kanban board software is a simple startup project management tool that’s used to visualize and track all of the different tasks happening within a company or team. Each task is created as a “card” that can be dragged-and-dropped into different areas of the screen to indicate the status of the task.

The kanban board shows anyone looking at it what work needs to happen next, what work is in progress, and what work has been recently completed.

Kanban boards are an incredibly useful visual tool for managing workflow. Make your kanban board with Restyaboard today!

The simplest way to use a kanban board is to have three columns: to-do, doing and done. When a new task needs to be added, it goes into the to-do column. Then, when someone is ready to work on that task, they drag the kanban card into “doing” so that everyone on the team can see the task-in-progress.

However, kanban boards can also be used to build more complex processes in the form of custom workflows. This is done by creating custom columns for each stage of the work process.

Kanban Workflow Example

For example, let’s assume your startup does marketing for clients, and you need a good way to manage all of the work requests that clients send in. You could create a kanban board with the following columns:

  • New Work Requests
  • Information Gathering
  • Doing
  • Client Approval
  • Done

Each column represents a step in the workflow or process.

  • When a new work request comes in from a client, the employee who received the request creates a task in the “New Work Requests” column and assigns it to an account manager.
  • When the account manager is ready, they move the task into “Information Gathering” and contact the client to get all of the information needed to start work. They then re-assign the task to the marketing team and move it to “Doing.”
  • The marketing team now works on the client request. When finished, they move the task to “Client Approval” and re-assign the task to the account manager.
  • With a new task in “Client Approval”, the account manager now knows the work is ready to send to the client for final approval.
  • Once the client gives their approval, the task is finally moved into “Done” to indicate the process is finished.

As you can see, the kanban board is used to build a step-by-step process for work requests. As the whole team has access to the board, everyone knows the status of all of the work that is happening. Kanban boards are a great way to eliminate problems and confusion by giving the team a blueprint for how work should flow through the team.

3. Project Management Dashboards

As discussed previously, visibility into your employee’s work is important to successfully manage your company. This is why savvy entrepreneurs choose to implement key performance indicators (KPIs) across their companies.

Read 8 Powerful Tools to Make Your Startup Smarter in 2020

The motto of “measure everything” is useful in startup companies because data allows the company to pivot quickly when things aren’t working—and to double down on things that are. There are many different types of dashboards a startup company can implement across the business, but the most important one is the project management dashboard.

Project management dashboards passively collect data from your project management platform, turning the information into helpful charts and graphs. The dashboard will update in real-time, giving you all of the information you need to make decisions across the company.

Project management dashboards can quickly show you information about several project metrics.

  • Workload: see which employees and teams are over or underworked
  • Project Progress: see how specific projects are progressing
  • Time Tracking: monitor where and how employee time is being spent
  • Budgets: learn the real cost of employee time and resources to make smarter budgeting decisions

Implementing Project Management Tools for Startup Companies

Startup companies are dynamic, exciting, and always growing. And as a company grows, it needs to change over time. However, establishing the right project management tools and processes early on will give your startup a solid foundation to build upon.

This is why we recommend that every startup company implement a work management platform, Kanban boards for building workflows, and dashboards for measuring everything across the business, all as soon as possible.

Implementation of these startup project management tools might seem like a lot of work, but it’s well worth it. Additionally, there are plenty of software suites that give you all of the tools we’ve discussed with zero codings or training needed.

Product management tools

Product management is an organizational structure within an enterprise that focuses on planning, forecasting, production, and marketing of a product at all stages of the development lifecycle. The purpose of the product management system is to design and develop quality products for the target audience of an enterprise while boosting the customer lifetime value (CLV) and creating measurable profits for the business as well.

Product Managers are trained professionals responsible for leading cross-functional teams to ensure the overall success of a product. It is they who set the product development strategy, roadmap, and marketing goals for products of a company.

However, to be able to create and implement a robust product management strategy, Along with improving product management skills, Product Managers must use the right product management tools and product management software. And that’s what we’re going to talk about today – the best product management tools and product management software that Product Managers around the world swear by!

Product management tools include product analytics software, product design tools, production management software, and development tracking tools. Since Product Managers are responsible for numerous strategic functions, product management tools make it possible to implement their ideas, organize them, and give coherence to the same. Product management courses from reputed institutions can help you understand more about various management tools and their functions.

The best product management tools and software that every Product Manager and aspiring Product Manager must know about! For new product managers, makes the career transition easy.

Top Product Management Tools for Product Managers

Axure

Axure is a wireframing-cum-prototyping product management tool specifically designed for midsize to large companies. The biggest selling point of Axure is that it lets your product and design teams create compelling prototypes without coding.

With Axure, your product development teams can create and document diagrams, customer journeys, or wireframes on the same page for easier collaborating and transparency. You can create diagrams comprising dynamic content, animations, conditional logic, math functions, and data-driven interactions.

Also, you can put together several different types of collaborative diagrams in Axure, such as flowcharts, wireframes, mockups, user journeys, customer personas, and idea boards. After you’ve completed a diagram, you can publish it on Axure Share and send a link to other team members to get feedback on the same.

Restyaboard

Restyaboard is a hot favorite among product management professionals. It is a highly visual web application that facilitates easy and seamless collaboration between team members. For instance, it offers visual boards, lists, and cards that allow you and your team members to prioritize and organize company projects. Every member can share links, input their comments/feedback, add attachments, and mention due dates via Restya cards.

The best thing about Restya is that it is highly flexible. It offers you the flexibility and option to customize and use it to fit your needs. And most importantly, it ensures full transparency between team members.

Read Top-rated product management software for Product Managers in 2020

Balsamiq Mockups

Balsamiq Mockups is a UI wireframing product management tool designed to suit the needs of small and medium-sized businesses specifically. It allows you to simulate the experience of sketching on a paper/whiteboard on your computer itself. Using this tool, Product Managers can quickly create multiple mockups for testing and user feedback.

Balsamiq encourages team collaboration. So, all the stakeholders involved in the product development and management lifecycles can collaborate throughout the design and development process for smooth operation. This is the perfect tool for your enterprise if you are looking for a tool to promptly create simple mockups (instead of full-blown, elaborate prototypes) for testing and user feedback.

Jira

Another exceptional product management tool suite on our list, Jira, is excellent for team collaboration. This tool not only encourages agile development, but it also helps you track and monitor the entire product creation process. Jira can be used on a server, a data center platform, and in the cloud.

Product management teams can use Jira to help plan, schedule, and monitor software releases. It enables you to create user stories and issues, plan sprints, distribute tasks, record and report bugs, prioritize tasks, and track the daily progress of your teams.

Furthermore, with Jira, you can set up Scrum and Kanban boards according to your preference. The tool offers numerous out-of-the-box, real-time agile reports to help you track the right metrics. To top that, there’s an agile portfolio management add-on as well – Portfolio.

Aha!

Aha! is a roadmap product management software. It allows you to create a detailed plan of your product strategy and also track the product features throughout the product development lifecycle.

You can use it to get a comprehensive overview of your products, set different milestones for your teams, crowdsource ideas, create workflow boards for agile/lean/scrum methodologies, define the features and requirements, analyze data, and much more. The best part is that businesses of all sizes can use Aha! – from small startups to large enterprises.

OmniPlan

OmniPlan is a roadmap software explicitly created to accommodate the needs of startups. The tool primarily focuses on task management. Thus, it lets you highlight and prioritize important tasks, set deadlines, filter tasks by specific metrics (date, priority, etc.), automatically optimize resources, and much more.

OmniPlan offers a wide range of planning products, including OmniFocus, OmniGraffle, OmniOutliner, and OmniPresence. You can either use the Standard version that includes all the basic planning tools, or you can opt for the Advanced version that includes additional features (for example, Earned Value Analysis, Monte Carlo simulation, network diagrams, etc.).

MindMeister

MindMeister is a Mind Mapping Tool that lets you “capture, develop, and share ideas visually.” This cloud-based product management tool can be accessed on Windows, macOS, and Linux from your web-browser itself.

With MindMeister, you can share your mind maps with as many partners/colleagues as you want and collaborate with them in real-time. Any changes made to the maps are visible to everyone. Plus, all the stakeholders can add their comments, vote on ideas, or discuss changes via MindMeister’s integrated chat platform. The best feature of this tool is that it lets you transform your ideas in the mindmap into actionable tasks directly.

Conclusion

While there are many, many tools out there to handle different product management requirements, the choice of the product management tool/software depends upon your specific needs. Thankfully, there is a host of free product management tools and product management software that you can try first, before moving on to paid versions.

In 2020, the working world was turned on its head, and most of us will have to learn quickly how best to Work From Home.

It seemed that working life was beginning to return to normal as lockdown eased, a long journey accompanied by a two-screen set up next to colleagues, as several companies steadily returned to the workplace.

But, with cases on the rise and the government asking us to work from home if we can, it seems that for the long term, we need to strap in tight. If you haven’t already downloaded them, here are 10 essential apps that will make going Work From Home full time again that much more organized…

1. Wave Invoicing

If you’re self-employed, keeping on top of your invoicing can be a real pain. But no invoices means no money, so that’s not an option. Wavelets you create and send personalized invoices, check their payment status, and automatically send reminders when one is overdue. No need to send the boys round. 

2. Expensify

Collecting receipts for your expense claims is not only a hassle, it often ends up with a late night in the office submitting them. Expensify isn’t the first app to process receipts using your phone’s camera, but its automatic sorting, GPS mileage capture, and automated reimbursements make it easier than ever. 

3. Otter Voice Meeting Notes

Otter is a voice recorder with a difference. Rather than spending whole meetings taking notes (and then promptly forgetting what half of them refer to), let the app record everything and it’ll use artificial intelligence to transcribe the conversation — it even splits the resulting text into different speakers. 

4. Slack

Sick of getting CC’d into about 50 email chains a day? Slack is a bit like a work chatroom, complete with mentions and notifications, easy file sharing, and invite-only channels for any need-to-know business. Don’t worry, you can still send private messages, so virtual office gossip is still very much on the agenda. 

5. FreshBooks

While Wave is great for invoicing and Expensify does what it says on the tin, FreshBooks is more of an all-in-one accounting tool. It also handles invoices and expenses, but throws in task-tracking, communication with clients, and allows you to take credit card payments. It’s both simple and powerful — the perfect combination. 

Read Free Tools To Handle Your ”Work From Home” Day Easier

6. Flow

If words and numbers aren’t your things, regular note-taking apps won’t be either. With its wide range of drawing tools and canvas types, Flow by Moleskine Studio is ideal for everything from rough sketches to detailed designs, particularly when combined with Apple’s Pencil stylus, plus it backs everything up to the cloud.

7. SignEasy

Having to physically sign documents is a pain in the biro, particularly if you don’t own a printer, but SignEasy makes the process entirely digital. Import the document from your email or cloud storage, sign on your device’s screen with your finger, and send it back. No pen or paper is required.

8. Dropbox

There are loads of cloud storage services out there but Dropbox offers a whole host of collaborative features while remaining secure and user-friendly. It allows you to access files from pretty much anywhere with an internet connection, with generous storage space and support for plenty of different platforms.

9. Restyaboard

With lots of people likely to be working remotely for the foreseeable future, managing a project can be pretty challenging. Restyaboard’s team and task management tools are ideal for making sure stuff gets done on time without too many late nights or last-minute panics. 

10. PayPal Here

You’ve probably used PayPal when buying stuff off eBay, but if you run a business that takes payments in person, particularly with shoppers being urged to use plastic instead of cash, PayPal Here lets you charge cards using your phone. You can even add a card reader to speed things up.