As we enter the new decade of 2020, most of us will look back to reflect on our progress. As individuals as well as businesses, we are likely to embark on a quest to identify opportunities to achieve better results and improve how we do things. With the huge impact of technology on today’s world, every year we see a host of new tools that aim to make us more productive. Whether that’s streamlining every aspect of our work and personal lives or rethinking our relationship with technology and disconnecting from it, there’s always something new to try.
Improved communication and time management, more efficient planning and tracking of projects, invoices and deliverables, automation of manual tasks - there are clever tools that significantly improve productivity and collaboration. Most of them are universally appealing to freelancers, small businesses or fast-growing startups. We have selected the top ten tools that we love at Digital Risks.
One of the most important tools on the list and the team’s favourite, Slack completely transforms how your team communicates. Slack is so much more than an alternative to email. Combining a multitude of features and services, it presents an ecosystem for team collaboration.
Communication between teams is done through specific channels, where collaborators can share documents, images, videos and any files they are working on. You can also use direct messaging for private conversations and create groups with different sets of teammates - as many as you wish.
Aside from that, Slack offers an integration with a multiverse of apps you might already be using to help your productivity boost. These include everything from Google Drive to Trustpilot, Asana and Hubspot. And did we mention how slick the UX is?
The app is available for download to both your desktop and your phone, let alone as a tab in your browser.
Created for people who are sick of spreadsheets, Asana is a project management tool most enjoyed by people with mild perfectionism. This is a software for organising your workflow, from personal tasks to team projects.
This flexible platform provides a library of picture-perfect templates to use for virtually any type of project, campaign or roadmap you might have in mind. You can plan, track and manage projects, create custom processes that fit your particular team and build fast agile team solutions.
A feature we love the most is the set of encouraging notifications you get as you progress with your tasks, starring “celebration creatures”. Asana lets you manage your tasks directly from Slack, making it so much easier to stay on top of deadlines. Available both as a web and mobile application, it is a handy tool to use at your desk and on the go.
Taking control of your time can be rather hard with constant notifications coming through from the multitude of websites and communication services you are a part of. Get to know Freedom - an app available on desktop and mobile that limits your access to the above and eliminates distractions, all the while letting you focus on things that matter to you.
Holiday blues can lure you into unnecessary shopping and social media vortex, but with this handy tool, your projects are more likely to stay on track, boosting your productivity, focus and general well-being. By barring distracting apps and websites, Freedom gives you control of your time - at work and out of the office.
The app features a scheduling system that helps you commit to creating healthy device habits, automatically blocking the sites you know you should stay away from to avoid distraction. Procrastination is an unknown word in the dictionary of a Freedom user.
Giving you insight into the cost and value of your time, Harvest is the hero of time management. While any business can spend a lot of time and resources on a project that might not deliver a substantial outcome, this app’s users know exactly where their team’s time is going and how much it costs.
With the ‘Time & Expenses’ feature, you can easily track time as you go through tasks, with an option to get insights into an automatically created timesheet at the end of it. It is integrated with a sister app Forecast, which lets you schedule your team’s time into the future, making it even easier to track all of your projects and the success of their outputs.
A great perk for freelancers, Harvest provides access to an automated invoice generation that uses timesheets to determine expenses and bill clients accordingly. As you’d expect, Harvest is available both on desktop and mobile with numerous integrations across platforms your business already uses, from Chrome to Zendesk.
A fusion of marketing, sales, customer service and CRM tools, HubSpot provides an all-round business organisation platform. As your company grows, HubSpot helps you manage client-facing aspects of your business seamlessly, as well as giving you the best tips on how to do so.
With “grow better” as their motto, this platform is a comprehensive tool for expanding your customer base that allows you to stay on top of numbers and trends and really understand your audience. You can modify your subscription according to your business needs, whether it’s all-in-one or marketing platform only. Advanced access allows you to streamline, test and track multiple aspects of your communications: lead capturing with forms and CTAs that can be embedded on your site, file and page management, planning and scheduling on social channels. And, of course, analytics - the platform offers rich data for all of the above, as well as for deals and conversions from the sales platform. As an added bonus, HubSpot is also famous for its useful resources on everything a small business needs to know - you can start learning for free here.
Though a mobile app is only available for HubSpot Sales & CRM, you can still get the analytics for marketing on your phone. Overall, it is a comprehensive web platform with a friendly interface.
A great tool for marketing and social media experts, Buffer lets you centralise your content sharing across every imaginable channel. Having connected the preferred social media accounts to Buffer, you can create, schedule and track all your content in one place, making it incredibly easy to get insights into your activity later.
Not only does this tool let you schedule your own content, but also provides suggestions for curated content, allowing you to diversify and saturate your feeds with valuable content relevant to your audience. Whenever you browse, whether it’s web or mobile, with Buffer integration you can save any piece of content you come across and add it to your sharing queue, saving you time and resource of doing it manually.
Buffer helps drive meaningful engagement with your audience, all the while giving you the time and headspace to focus on creative output.
Not a regular notebook, Evernote is useful for collaboration on every piece of writing that requires multi-person input. Let alone writing, you can use it for noting audio, video, imagery and web files, while also being able to share them across multiple devices.
Aside from the variety of formats, Evernote enables you to create a mixture of diagrams, charts and infographic elements to visualise your thinking and make it digestible, be that for you or your teammates. And with a remarkably easy sharing feature, it saves you the time to get them involved.
Naturally, it is also integrated with any software you use for project management, as well as Gmail and Wordpress, making content publishing more manageable than ever. Evernote is the tool you need to plan, map out, and prioritise each and every idea you have, as well as turn them into successful project outputs.
An ideal software for small businesses that lack HR departments, Charlie is the number one human resources tool that takes care of your employees in ways more than one. Automating most of your admin with friendly UX and design, Charlie onboards new hires, stores documentation and keeps track of all employee records, including holidays and performance reviews.
For fast-growing startups, keeping track of new hires and onboarding them in an appropriate way can be a challenging task for business owners or their HR specialists. This tool solves the issue of tedious tasks pile-up with automated system of employee data tracking, as well as offers, perks and rewards employees actually want to use.
Like all the tools we chose for this list, CharlieHR is integrated with the usual business software, including Google Calendar, and offers a friendly bot add-on in Slack, which notifies you of every employee’s whereabouts first thing in the morning and reminds you of their birthdays.
Jira is any productive tech and product teams’ go-to tool for agile project management. Purpose-built for Software, IT, Business and Operations teams, it enables you to manage workflows, prioritise, plan and track deliverables.
This software can be used by cross-functional teams to manage technical tasks and make sure that every team member is aware of priorities and status of each project in real-time. It allows the users to break down bigger projects into more manageable tasks, identify dependables and distribute them across the tech team.
The reporting functionality is equally strong, providing visual data and insight to improve your team’s performance and quickly spot the gaps. With over 3000 integrations available with other apps, it is easy to tailor Jira Software to match your business’ needs and workflows.
If there is one way to make your finance team’s lives easier, Pleo is the bee’s knees. Decentralising spending for businesses, Pleo is essentially a pre-paid company card split between an unlimited number of employees. What’s more, is that it simplifies bookkeeping and eliminates the need for expense reports, doing it all on its own accord.
A lifesaver for any accounting team, this software allows for instantaneous reconciliation of expenses, prompting the cardholders to attach receipts momentarily after purchase. With a live dashboard keeping your teams aware of company-wide spending, you can oversee the categorisation and matching of receipts as payments happen.
And if that wasn't enough, Pleo also offers integrations with most accounting platforms, too. This means saying goodbye to repetitive procedures, team members follow-ups and tedious expense organisation.
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