By Tom Charman, GSEA 2016 UK Finalist and Cofounder of KOMPAS
With so many services, apps and online tools available, it can be difficult to work out which are the best. Plus, many tools are expensive, so start-ups are forced to hack together solutions.
Here are my top picks (in no particular order) for the apps that help me and my team stay connected and productive.
Bring teams closer: Slack and Trello
The combination of Slack and Trello has saved my bacon more times than I can
count. These two apps are an obvious choice for a startup, but making sure that they’re integrated is something that many people miss.
One of the really useful features that you can build into Slack is reminders. Slackbots remind everybody on the team, so we’re all on the same page and nobody feels singled out. Trello makes it easy to strike off completed tasks or shift the importance of a task as work crops up unexpectedly.
When you integrate the two, you can access Trello boards quickly from Slack, make any necessary changes and then assign tasks to employees as needed.
Stay on track: Any.do
I’ve always been a poor planner. Setting tasks for the day ahead is hard when, quite frankly, there’s so much that needs to be done. Thanks to Any.do, I’ve gotten much better at prioritizing work and staying on track.
The user interface makes it simple to schedule work and even easier to strike off finished assignments. You can add notes, reminders and even alarms. Plus, if one of your tasks has been assigned to another team member, it’s easy to share information and take the work off your plate.
A central database of documents: Drive
Most people already have Google Drive on their computer, and will occasionally use it to store the odd document. It’s worth getting you and your team in the habit of storing files on Drive because it lets you share, access and edit documents from anywhere. Plus, it has a very friendly user interface and works like a typical hard-drive.
Scheduling made simpler: Google Calendar & Calendly
Before we started KOMPAS, planning was one of my biggest pitfalls. I knew I needed to improve my ability to schedule meetings and, more importantly, prevent them from clashing. Google Calendar did exactly that. I could plan ahead and enter enough time between appointments to actually get to the meetings—something that’s easy to overlook, particularly when you’ve got meetings across town from each other.
Then, Calendly entered my life. Its integration to Google has made interviewing new employees, planning my day and scheduling meetings far simpler. Now, I can set aside a certain amount of time per day to focus on business, making sure meetings don’t crop up unexpectedly. I can also schedule 40-minute slots, allowing 30 minutes for a meeting and 10 minutes of travel (assuming where I’m going is nearby!).
Let someone else pick up the bill: Expensify
Ever had that awkward conversation working out who’s paying for what? Or had to search out a missing receipt to complete an expense report?
Expensify lets you easily manage any expenses that can be billed back to your company. It automatically e-mails a receipt plus it simplifies the process of splitting bills.
Set up trips ahead of time so you can stay on top of your expense tracking.
Best of all, you can create teams within a trip so that everyone is in the loop. Just don’t go trying to pass along that bar bill; I can’t see that going down too well!
Make new friends: Shapr
Shapr is one of the most useful networking apps around now. It’s a great way to meet people who are in your field or have similar interests.
You tailor your interests and then you’re shown 10 profiles of like-minded people each day. When you and another person have (anonymously) chosen to move forward, you’ll have the option to message each other.
I’ve met some fantastic people who have given me advice, and some people for whom I’ve returned the favour. I highly recommend using the app to make new professional connections.
Meet and greet: Zoom
Zoom works perfectly for scheduling interviews with potential employees or catching up with remote team members. Although it drags on bandwidth, it’s much less laggy than its competitors, and it has a crisper calling experience. I use it for any video call now, because it’s a simple program to use either on a laptop or a mobile phone.
What tips and apps help you stay effective and productive? Is there anything that you use to manage your busy days?