Cloud Business Apps

Project Management

When you break it down, everything in business is made up of tasks. Whether you’re checking expense reports, making a plan for a new sales promotion, or preparing for an IPO, they're all tasks of one sort or another. Some can be further divided into subtasks (like that initial public offering). Some must be grouped together as processes or as global operations for the individual importance of each task to be appreciated. But whatever its nature, each task must be correctly managed to optimize its contribution to the organization as a whole. How Does a Task Management App Help? Task management apps can assist with: Task creation for making actionable items out of ideas and requirements Alerts for warning of due dates, tasks starting and task status change Committal of resources with possibilities of delegation Reporting. Tables or graphics to show work accomplished, work in progress and backlogs of tasks yet to be done. Different views of tasks. These views may be as lists ordered alphabetically, by priority or per team member. In addition, customization and communication with other programs may be offered for flexibility in how task management information is generated and presented (customization); and transmitting that information to other business applications such as project management, accountancy, or billing and invoicing. ‘Kanban cards’ are also used by some task management apps. These are rectangular cards or containers displayed on screen in a view of the current tasks. Each container corresponds to a task and has summary information about it (task name, assignee, priority, etc.). As tasks progress, these Kanban cards can then be dragged and dropped across the screen from one status category to another. Task Management Apps – Building Blocks for Further Operations Task management apps provide an automated, systematic approach to controlling and getting tasks done. They let you record, prioritize and assign tasks to then track them to completion. Task information can be concise or detailed, as you like. In fact, task management apps are a good place to put more comprehensive task information to avoid swamping overall project plans with too much detailed data. Task management apps provide a natural platform for: Project management. Projects are by definition temporary structures. They may be based on tasks with limited lifetimes or tasks destined to be repeated in other contexts too. Process management. Processes are designed to be repeated at some point. They are made of a set number of tasks that will stay the same as long as the overall process does not change. Workflow. Similar to a process, a workflow specifies the outputs of one phase and inputs to the next, with routing and hand-off of deliverables between different team members as appropriate. Top Task Management Apps Sellsy Sellsy puts task management to work in the specific context of sales. It gives you control over the actions available to co-workers to precisely plan out prospection, qualification and closing activities. The emphasis is on ease of use for creating, assigning and sharing tasks. Email task reminders are always available, but the mobile access, integrated chat and message system, and the discussion wall all incite users to stay in touch directly to collaborate and achieve. Customer relationship management (CRM), invoicing and real time margin display, and ERP for points of sale and multiple depots build out Sellsy’s task management functionality for all-round commercial success. Project Bubble Project Bubble simple project management and collaboration tool is well-suited to its name, allowing you intuitively to drag-and-drop tasks, prioritizing them, assigning them and their subtasks to different teammates, and more. You can color-code both your tasks and projects, making sure everyone knows who does what when. User access is logical because you only see anything within a project or task if you have permission to see all. It even has a little gamification with a customizable progress bar. Then, you can automate this time and again by creating recurring tasks. Deputy If you’re wondering how to improve workplace communication, assign tasks efficiently, allocate the right staff to work rosters and track all of those activities, your Deputy can help you out. The Deputy task management app extends to employee scheduling and workforce management across the company. You can manage staff work hours and shifts, publish work schedules, notify staff via SMS, email and the Deputy mobile app. Timesheets are automatically created with verifiable information, and can be approved online and then dropped immediately into any one of a range of partner payroll applications. Deputy also makes it easy to create reports to track tasks done, shifts accomplished and any special staff performance that deserves attention. Atlassian Confluence There’s the dream world where everything is planned in advance and happens like clockwork – and there’s the real world, where tasks arrive on the go and at any time. Confluence from Atlassian helps you to keep your overall work and productivity flowing by managing the ‘stuff’ that pops up, unexpectedly but inevitably. If you’ve identified agile working as the way to remain competitive and profitable, Confluence will not only let you manage changing project tasks, but also meeting follow-up actions and smart ideas that can be converted into practical tasks for improvement. Development, marketing, manufacturing, and even accounting and admin can all benefit by channeling ad hoc tasks towards better company results, via Confluence. ProjectPlace Pick a card, any card! With ProjectPlace, you’ll get immediate information about the task represented by that card, assignees, due dates and supporting information like Box, Dropbox or Google Docs documents. All those cards are visible online on your ProjectPlace board. And because smart is simple, visual and intuitive, ProjectPlace lets you label and color cards your way, as well as giving you ‘Swimlane’ views to show you the tasks that are active for any given category or team member. The card-based ‘Kanban’ task management is also integrated in ProjectPlace with Gantt chart functionality, time reporting, online meeting capability and document and conversation management. Natural Insight Organizing the work force for shift or project-oriented output is right up Natural Insight’s street, especially in the retail and merchandising space. With task scheduling and management, you can plan, execute and check on time spent and productivity achieved. Efficiency can be measured, analyzed and improved. Operational tasks can be distributed across multiple sites and branches to hundreds, thousands or more of fixed-location or mobile workers. For retail distribution in particular, stock set-ups, inventory management, replenishment, and handling of credits and returns are all examples that can be managed with efficiency and effectiveness by using Natural Insight. Evernote Evernote’s strengths include being able to capture notes in all formats (text, image, handwritten, audio) and to make those notes accessible on practically any device. With collaboration on shared notebooks, users can work on projects together or create task workflows to drive different business processes. The immediacy of Evernote facilitates capturing ideas, brainwaves and brainstorms to organize task lists and priorities afterwards. Tasks can be sorted into folders with tags and additional notes and comments. They can also be searched and exported to other applications for integration into document or project management for instance. Whether it’s the immediacy of Evernote with its capability for recognizing handwriting, the sales and retail strengths of Sellsy or Natural Insight, the workforce management of Deputy, or the streamlined task progressions of Confluence and ProjectPlace, take advantage of some of the free trials for task management apps to pinpoint the one that best suits or enhances your way of working.

Do You Really Need a CRM?

By Luke Moreland, 24 July 2014

We all have to start somewhere even if it's just an Excel spreadsheet. The jump to more complex customer relationship management software at first may seem to make life more complicated rather than simpler. You may not have many customer relationships and rely on the power of memory and good old data entry to organize yourself and your business. Do you really need a CRM loaded with special features that your small business may not even use? (more…)

Two heads have always been better than one. With the possibilities of communication over the web, those heads can be separated by thousands of miles – but that’s OK if they’re connected via good collaboration tools. Those tools have come a long way from the office conference calls and messaging of yesterday. Now with mobile and cloud computing, collaboration doesn’t even need fixed locations or times anymore. Collaboration tool functionality may include: Messaging via video, voice and text (keyboard) chat. Blogging and microblogging (micro blogs allow users to exchange small pieces of content such as a sentence, an images, or a link.) Wiki or Question and Answer spaces. Forums for discussions and expression of ideas and opinions. Social networking features to build and manage relationship-linked groups of people. (more…)

Do you send out flurries of emails about jobs to be done – and hope that somebody somewhere is keeping track of them? Does your own inbox fill up with instructions that you can only sort by date or by sender, but never by priority? In either case, you may have realized that it doesn’t take many tasks – handed out or received – before you need something better than just your webmail to organize your work. (more…)

Where would you look for or find out about the people that have the most influence on project management professionals? Word of mouth is one option, but it’s subjective. Search engine results are more impartial, but are they relevant? After all, you won’t influence people unless they read what you write. Does a social network like Twitter have the answer? (more…)

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again -- your business is only as good as your security. And if you’re running a business like construction, legal, or any consulting work like design, you need to be secure on the go, so your face is in front of clients not your desktop. This means that, particularly regarding your contracting, sales proposals and the like, you need to make sure to have an integrated mobile resource to share your files securely. Well, great news -- ShareFile, under the Citrix household name in security, now allows you to store and back up your Xero, QuickBooks Online, and FreshBooks invoices and any of your Basecamp project management attachments right into strategic ShareFile folders. (more…)

What, share it? That’s right. For information to be of real value, it must be made available to people when they need it. Silo mentality is a recipe for extinction in today’s fast-moving business world. But even if information is power, that power has to be used correctly. Think ‘bionic’ or ‘laser-focused’, but think also about a system to share information according to your rules – a system that then works by itself for a project or process without you having to constantly intervene. (more…)

Good teamwork, good software, good service

By Luke Moreland, 11 July 2014

A team divided against hundreds or thousands of customers will not fare well. Sure, there might be a commitment to the ideal of teamwork, but in today’s business world good teamwork demands something more. (more…)

People change their minds. People move around. A lot of earlier project management assumed that neither happened. But the web has opened up new vistas of choice and has linked up virtual teams from Vienna to Vladivostok. So project management apps have evolved to help marketers, designers and developers to keep up with two big trends. (more…)

Knowing about your objectives, your resources and your risks is part of good project management – unlike crossing your fingers and just hoping you won’t get any surprises. It’s much better to map out possible scenarios and impacts, and go in with your eyes open. Otherwise you may embark on your project, happily oblivious of holes in your plan until you and your deadline disappear into one of them. (more…)