The exponential rate at which technology is evolving has completely changed the face of business in recent years and promises more change in the future. Employers are no longer married to the idea of the traditional 9-5 in-office work week, allowing employees to work from home or sourcing contractors from around the globe. Cloud sharing and storage is making projects move faster and more efficiently. In this ever-changing landscape, small businesses are given opportunity and accessibility to keep up with large businesses, as long as they have the right tools in place. Here are the ten best team management tools for small business users in a tech-savvy world.
Buffer is a social media management tool that allows automatic scheduling and posting to social media. It is superior to many of its competitors as it’s one of the only social media scheduling programs that posts directly to Instagram, and it offers a comprehensive pro version at an affordable rate for entrepreneurs and small business owners. How does social media planning play into team management?
Unfortunately, small business marketing is an area that often gets overlooked in team management due to the limited resources available and the specialized nature of the marketing business. Buffer allows team logins and submissions for approval, which makes it an ideal team management tool to execute promotions and attract new clients.
By using Buffer, Business Insider was able to increase their social media following from 200,000 people to 1.3 million while dedicating fewer hours to social media management everyday. This platform also created consistency between the East coast and West coast editorial teams, as well as the reporters scattered across the U.S.
Xoxoday is a SaaS-based platform that creates Happy Teams that are aligned, engaged, motivated and transparent. This tool helps teams move together - aligned to a single vision, with clarity on goals and ability to measure outcomes regularly. It gives the team space to voice their thoughts, opinions and measure engagement in today’s dynamic environment and it gets the team to work together, communicate and engage on projects effectively. They have features such as Alignment, Feeds & Announcement, Quizzes, Groups & Community, Knowledge Repository, Rewards, Leaderboard, Nomination Workflows, etc.
Creative Invoices from FreshBooks are the main draw to this accounting platform, but it’s not the only draw to this integrative software. Freshbooks took the feedback from their small business customers and created built-in program features that are designed to help boost productivity and improve team collaboration for both in-person and remote teams.
Freshbooks offers a centralized time-tracking platform that allows all team members to see who is currently working, and allows project managers to see any expenses they have incurred. Additionally, the business can assign roles and permissions to manage access rights within the platform. For example, a contractor will only have access to the projects they’re working on whereas employees will have more visibility. On the other hand, a business partner will be able to see the financial reports of a project whereas an employee can’t.
Workhaus is a startup that offers co-working spaces in downtown Toronto. Originally, they used a standard point-of-sales platform to have invoices paid at the front desk of their various locations, relying on front desk staff to process the sale and submit the appropriate documentation. By working with the Freshbooks team to create a custom program, they were able to bring the location teams together and create a cloud-accessible invoicing system.
With the average white collar worker spending three hours a day checking their email, team productivity is always a concern. Slack is a smart instant messaging service that allows for continuous communication and file sharing without poring through hours of email. It offers the benefits of email-- creating a paper trail, for example-- without the hours of time wasted. Additionally, there’s scheduled downtime during which no one will receive a notification.
Slack is ideal for checking in with teams in an informal manner to provide updates throughout the day. This is especially helpful when working on a project together from remote locations. It can also be linked to various file storage and project management applications and offers different channel options, mitigating the risk of “reply all” emails that go to people who need not be included.
HelloFresh is a company that’s become a household name over the past year. Chief Technology Officer, Nuno Simaria shared that upwards of 95% of their workflow is visible in Slack through the use of the various integrations available. This helps send mass updates to the team while tracking any technical or customer issues that are being reported within the system or via social media.
Trello is the project management tool for those who hate project management tools. Trello is a free application, which makes it accessible for small businesses that lack the resources of a large enterprise. Rather than inundating users with Gantt charts and jargon-heavy reports, Trello acts as a virtual sticky note board that updates live as various team members work toward completing tasks.
In addition to having team project boards, individual team members can create private boards that dive into the nuances of what their responsibilities are. While the team project board might say “complete prototype,” the private board could have all of the steps listed out to complete that task.
Kickstarter is one of the many recognizable brands using Trello for their operations, particularly to create a collaborative environment amongst the Product Marketing team. By using Trello, Kickstarter is able to produced polished product marketing pieces that pull content writing, software development and more from teams all over the world.
According to a recent Gallup study, only 15% of people feel engaged in their jobs. In many cases, under appreciation and a lack of communication play a significant role in this lack of engagement. For a small business to be successful, employee engagement and communication are key.
iDoneThis is an app that gets rid of those meetings that should have been an email, without overwhelming employees with a long email chain. With iDoneThis, employees reply to a brief email asking them what they accomplished during the day. The reply is amalgamated with the other responses and sent out in the morning as a brief report about the project status.
iDoneThis allowed the creative experts at Museum Hack to overpower their predilection toward creative chaos and focus on cultivating unique customer experiences without being bogged down by dull project management software. Whenever a team completes a project or event, they check it off the list with the click of a button. As the various team members wear different hats, it allows them to focus on their various responsibilities without lapsing in communication.
All too often, team members run into the same problem that someone has experienced before. This can cause delays and frustration and connects back to a lack of communication. By having a centralized company wiki where team members can log the problems they’ve experienced and simple steps about how to fix it, they create a centralized troubleshooting document that will keep everyone calm and productive for years to come.
ProProfs is a software package that creates a central wiki for businesses. Its user-friendly approach allows for simple data entry and tagging without having any programming or coding knowledge. It’s used by high-profile companies like Dell, Sony, and Yale University to improve team collaboration by offering an accessible knowledge-base.
Adobe uses ProProfs as a way to add value to their customer offerings, by creating a centralized location for software knowledge and common issues. As their list of clientele includes high-profile media companies like NBC, having a system that integrates with their project management software is essential. ProProfs offers the secure, collaborative environment they need to thrive.
Jitsi Meet is video conferencing software that is accessible both online and from the phone. It can effectively connect team members from all over the globe in one location with minimal reports about technical problems. This is a great tool for hosting meetings and getting alignment between team members.
Comcast, the largest high-speed internet, phone, and communications provider in the U.S. works with Jitsi’s open source meeting software to bring integrative options forward to their customer base. Other notable users include Greenpeace, who uses Jitsi Meet for the majority of their audio communication.
Asana is another project management app that’s a little more involved than Trello. It allows users to set priorities and deadlines while live-tracking the progress made in a project. The system allows 15 users, making it the ideal size for small businesses. The program is visually stimulating for a positive user experience that will keep the team on track.
Overstock is one of the many large enterprises that uses Asana to improve team collaboration. The main benefit of using Asana, according to the Senior Director of User Experience Design & Product at Overstock, is that it helps a large team operate like a small team, promoting speed, efficiency, and effective communication. Even with thousands of employees, Asana helps Overstock collaborate with the energy of a startup.
Organizations who aren’t using G Suites are missing out on an incredible opportunity to streamline processes and storage. G Suites has word processing, presentation, and spreadsheet software that’s comparable to Windows Office without the hefty price tag. Additionally, it’s cloud-based storage makes it possible to work on a live document with the team, adding comments and edits as needed without having various versions floating around.
The G Suites user list is full of high-profile startups and Fortune 500 companies. Everyone from Colgate to Broadcom uses some aspect of G Suites to collaborate with their team. Research company Nielsen uses G Suites to work with teams in over 100 countries to put together comprehensive research packages used by a multitude of industries worldwide.
Creating a Culture
With the right tools, small businesses can take on big projects and large businesses can maintain the efficient communication of a startup team. Cloud-based technology allows the members of a team to pursue the highly desired digital nomad lifestyle while discovering that oft-elusive balance between work and life outside the office.
Each tool on this list boasts a range of high-profile users, from journalism companies to worldwide retailers. By taking inspiration and lessons learned from household names like Adobe, Business Insider, and HelloFresh, small business owners can improve their team cohesiveness through stronger communication and project management protocols.