For IT managers, tracking and improving workflows, while facilitating team efforts, can be difficult —especially when working on several projects at once. Whether it's fixing bugs or monitoring development projects, the time spent organizing and then executing is an intricate part of any time management strategy. Below are five online apps to help you stay organized and be ahead of the game.
Note: This article is also available as an image gallery and a video hosted by TechRepublic columnist Tom Merritt.
This is by far my favorite. LiquidPlanner (Figure A) has it all, from time tracking to team planning to integrated collaboration. Also, it's predictive. What does that mean? It can estimate deadlines based on your input and prioritize based on best case/worst case scenarios. LiquidPlanner says it best: "Traditional project management software relies on single-point estimates that hide the uncertainty that is inherent in today's projects. That means that risk in your projects can be hidden until it's too late. Liquid Planner solves this problem with ranged estimates and statistically correct calculation for realistic schedules you can trust." Beyond cool. I have never had any complaints when using this app. It's also mobile-friendly on both iOS and Android. LiquidPlanner offers a 30-day free trial. After that, it costs $29 per user/month). But again, it's worth every penny.
Asana (Figure B) is great for tracking team productivity. Tasks and subtasks can be partitioned off and assigned to each team member, and each project can be customized to fit the nature of whatever project you're working on. After customization, that project format can be saved so you don't have to reorganize everything again for your next project. This app is free for up to 15 users and with optional pricing for private projects. In addition, it's mobile-friendly and currently offers an iPhone app.
Some users contend that this app started it all. Basecamp (Figure C) is 100 percent project management and 100 percent awesome. Each organizer can assign tasks, give project updates, and track workflows across the spectrum of every employee. It's a one-stop-shop for each team member, both to track the status of the project and to know what is expected of him or her on any given day. After the 60-day trial period, the application starts at $20/month.
Back to the free stuff. Trello (Figure D) is a free web-based application that utilizes social techniques to visualize the workflows of your team members. The drag-and-drop technique within each project allows the organizer to assign and monitor progress. Avatars can be assigned to team members, and each step can be analyzed as part of the larger picture. Trello is a tested app, with companies (both enterprise and small business) incorporating it to eliminate wasteful steps and to monitor development.
Zoho(Figure E) is a fully customizable app. It's a bit more complicated to set up than the others on this list, but it's no less effective. It can also be fully integrated with Google Docs and Google Apps, and it has some insane reporting tools. Zoho includes a host of features, from project coordination to tracking workflows. It is mobile-friendly on both Android and iOS and can be used with Dropbox. For small teams, it's free for one project; from there, it starts at $20/month.
Countless tools are available to help you stay on top of tasks and boost your productivity. These five are all tested apps and are among the best for project/team tracking and execution. When considering any application, keep your project and team in mind and let the needs of both dictate your choices. Construct a clear picture of the need and answer that need with the right application.
What tools would you add to this list? Share your recommendations with fellow TechRepublic members.
Joseph Parker has worked in management, supply chain metrics, and business/marketing strategy with small and large businesses for more than 10 years. His experience in development is personal, stemming from his work in mobile marketing and application technology. He is an avid reader of industry publications and follows the ongoing technological trends stemming from software and product development. He is an inbound marketer, avid blogger, and content provider for many business blogs.