Managing deadlines and projects is never simple, even if your team works in the same office. Unless tasks are clearly delegated, efforts may end up duplicated, or small assignments may slip through the cracks entirely.
Some teams try to avoid these mishaps with frequent meetings and reminder emails, but these can be a huge drain on productivity. Spreadsheets can be helpful for tracking certain types of activities, but they have limits to their flexibility and sharing capabilities.
Online systems will never fully replace paper, and you’ll still need to keep a stash of discount printer ink around for inevitable in-person meetings. However, your staff and clients will appreciate your online systems for day-to-day tasks. But for those big-picture, important tasks, you’ll want to have paper copies, so keep plenty of Canon toner cartridges on hand for your printer.
Even businesses on small budgets can afford professional team management and communication software. Here are eight of the best options available for small teams.
Managing your team with Asana is easy due to the platform’s timeline, workload and calendar features. It has a huge range of potential applications, from marketing to research and development. It integrates with other apps like Slack and Google Drive to create a near-seamless system.
Asana has a ton of project management features. Even though every organization doesn’t need project management, it’s a great option if your team is working on complex, multi-stage projects. Asana has multiple tiers available and even has a free plan for simple task management up to 15 people.
Monday.com is another project management tool that is useful for a variety of organizations. It can be configured to track employees’ tasks and hours worked in a number of different ways depending on your industry and organization’s structure.
Like Asana, Monday.com’s chat features are limited. However, its user interface is clear, easy to use and highly customizable. Administrators can lock or unlock charts and allow different departments to control information and tasks.
3. Google Hangouts
Google Hangouts’ biggest strength is that it integrates seamlessly with other Google apps, including Drive and Gmail. Although it doesn’t have as many project management features, it’s an easy tool for small businesses that already use Google Suite applications.
Another plus is that you can easily add individuals from outside the organization to a call and share files seamlessly. Whether you’re talking with a client or consulting with someone at America’s small business development center to figure out how to grow your business, the features present in Hangouts will make it easier to include everyone.
Slack is a leading instant messenger platform that includes the ability to create groups called “channels.” Adding individual team members to relevant groups makes it easier for everyone to track files and messages based on their duties.
In addition to integrating with Zoom, Slack also has its own built-in video chat. You can quickly read a chat message about a project and decide to open a video call without switching to another app.
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Zoom may have recently become popular due to the coronavirus, but it can be an excellent asset in the future as well. It’s easy to invite members to video chat on an as-needed basis without managing an entire chat room every day. Meetings up to 40 minutes long are free.
Its features aren’t as robust as some other paid software, but it has screen sharing, a side chat channel and other basic features. Since more people have recently learned to use it, it may actually become a preferred method for meeting despite its relative lack of features. You can start using it immediately to improve communication.
6. Microsoft Teams
Microsoft has actually made Teams available for free as part of each Microsoft Office 365 subscription. A paid upgrade option is available for a small additional fee per month. Microsoft Teams includes video conferencing, instant messaging, customizable group channels and excellent integration with Microsoft Office applications.
Groups can include internal or external users, making this a powerful option for organizations that frequently collaborate with contractors or external clients. Since so many people already have Microsoft Office 365, it’s a value-priced option with a minimal learning curve.
Discord started as an instant messaging and voice chat platform that became popular with video game fans around the world. As the software has improved, it has turned into a platform with business potential as well. Like Slack, Discord can keep chats and files in the same space, but its features make it especially useful for teams that have many remote members or contractors.
Discord’s file size limits are lower than Slack, but the ability to host ongoing video or audio meetings that allow participants to freely enter and exit is a big plus. Team members can keep a channel open all day, using it to ask questions or collaborate, just like a digital open office plan.
Deputy is a platform that focuses on the timekeeping and general team management aspects of a workplace. It has excellent timekeeping and scheduling features along with clear and simple calendar views. It has fewer task assignment and management features but is more than sufficient for small businesses that don’t have many new tasks to worry about.
Deputy doesn’t replace all HR tasks. Certain official forms and contracts still need to be printed, so stock up on ink from the cheapest place to buy printer ink online. However, Deputy’s multi-tiered pricing system makes it a flexible option for small businesses.
Making the Most of New Technology
Small businesses typically can’t afford top-of-the-line technology, but improvements in team management software have made high-quality platforms much more accessible in recent years. All the products listed here are an excellent value, and many integrate well with each other to build a system that’s perfect for accommodating remote workers.
Even if your team usually works in the same office, online task management systems make it easier for everyone to update each other. They also minimize emails, which will improve productivity and reduce distractions.
Overall, you have nothing to lose by trying a new way of managing your team. With a quick training session or two, employees can learn to communicate faster and more accurately to help your organization reach new heights.