Small and medium-sized businesses often experience a lot of wasted time managing processes that could be automated. Sometimes, the time waste is a result of miscommunication or project stakeholders not understanding their responsibilities.
In our operations, we have found a handful of tools that have streamlined our processes, making it easier to manage projects and communicate. These tools have saved a lot of time and headaches, so we’re passing these on to you for your consideration.
Trello – www.trello.com – This free tool is a card-based, project management system allowing you to upload photos, comments, and hyperlinks. On the project “cards”, you can attach individuals associated with the project, change due dates, and move the cards between “lists” to effectively manage them at a high level and in micro-detail. While it is web-based, it also has a mobile interface that allows project management and communications to take place virtually anywhere.
Hipchat – www.hipchat.com – This is a free communication service allowing for interoffice and out-of-office chatting. You can load it on mobile devices and computer terminals with ease. It greatly slims down the need for email, which is not effective for detailed conversations among multiple participants. You also have the ability to spin off ‘rooms’ in Hipchat for single-use events, and then ‘throw’ them away. Want users in a room to vote on a topic? There is a capability for that, as well as for screen-sharing and video chatting.
OneNote – www.microsoft.com – This program free for Windows 10 as an app and on mobile devices. In essence, it is a large notebook with tabs that represent “subjects” and pages down the side. You can sub-categorize pages for even deeper organization. It also features an app for mobile, allowing for a web-based, convenient solution.
Google Forms – https://www.google.com/docs/about/ – We use Google Forms that naturally work with Google Sheets (which is similar to Excel). It allows for simple or robust fillable forms that do not require your end user to have an account. Among the other free software that Google offers, Google Forms is very versatile and is easy for most users to learn.
We have found great success with these tools, and many others. A wide variety of tools like these exist that can help your office function to its maximum potential. Ask yourself what processes might be improved by better communication or simplified workflow, and there is probably a tool that can help. Find what works best for your business.