5 Productivity Tools Administrators Will Love

Young woman using laptop while having coffee at restaurant

In the digital age, it can be taxing keeping track of employees, contractors, schedules, projects, what have you. If you want any growth or scalability, you'll want to wrangle that in as soon as possible; otherwise, you'll have a huge headache to deal with before you know it.

There are numerous productivity mobile apps, web apps, and software apps available on the market. Below are a few of my personal favorites.

Yammer (https://www.yammer.com/)

What it does: Yammer is an enterprise social network. And it truly feels like a certain large social network that's dedicated to your team/company. It's got all the benefits of that large social network -- feeds, private or public groups, polls. But it's also got the ability to give a colleague or team "praise".

Who uses it: DHL, Shell, Nationwide, 7-Eleven

What it costs: $3/user/month for basic Yammer; more for other Microsoft-related benefits.

Why I love it: As an Apple and Google diehard, it was difficult to buy into Yammer, given that it's owned by Microsoft. But after just a few days, it brought our almost entirely virtual team (that was merged together by two other virtual teams) together more than a weekly GoToMeeting ever could. It's got feeds, groups, chat, private chat, the ability to add files (!), and more. Like that big social network but better and not full of your annoying relatives

What it doesn't do: Outside of the chat feature, there isn't much real-time communication. The files area allows for some collaboration but it still feels a bit like email in that you have to wait for the person to see it, add comments, edit, etc. Its biggest benefit is having a running feed of posts and updates.

Sococo (https://www.sococo.com/)

What it does: Sococo is relatively new to me. It's a legitimate virtual office. And a bangin' one at that. I set up Yammer before our team found this in hopes of creating a virtual office. Then Sococo took it to the next level. You get a visual of an office, the ability to join other offices, video chat, voice chat, chat chat, locking "offices" for private meetings, and more. If they had an affiliate program, I'd be all over it!

Who uses it: Aptitude, G4S, Intuit

What it costs: Free – $199+ (When I initially saw the price, I was definitely put off. Whereas Yammer's pricing is so cheap it's dumb not to get, Sococo's service is so amazing that it makes the pricing seem irrelevant.)

Why I love it: It completed my vision of a virtual office. We are able to see who is online and when, are able to connect in real time, and have various sized meetings. They put a lot of focus into office floorplan design as well as the psychological effects/benefits of doors, windows, and scenery.

What it doesn't do: Unfortunately, it doesn't yet have any of the feed/post capabilities that Yammer currently has. Fortunately, I've been assured (after many voice chats with them) they have these types of features in the pipeline. It won't be long until Sococo completely obliterates Yammer from this list. Did I mention I'd be an affiliate of theirs?

Project Management: TeamworkPM, Basecamp, Asana, Etc

What it does: You're probably already familiar with at least one of these. They've been around the block a few times, had some revisioning, and are all pretty well used in the small business/startup world. They all have the same goal – efficient management of projects.

Who uses it: NASA, adidas, PayPal, Dropbox, Pinterest, etc. A lot of well-known brands...

What it costs: Prices vary from free to up to thousands, though most small companies can get what they need at $200 tops and often at far lower than that.

Why I love it: There isn't ONE that I love. They all have different bells and whistles. They all claim the best efficiency. And I've used most of them. The things that you have to think about are:

1) Is any group on your team used to one of them already (If nobody has used anything before but your developers use TeamworkPM, maybe that's the best bet)?

2) What is the best option for your team's workflow (do you really need a Gantt chart?)?

3) Which pricing best suits your company's financial status (find out how much money your company has to throw around)?

What it doesn't have: This is a general list... They all have something. They all don't have something. Like I said before, look at the benefits and costs of each before deciding which to go with. But get one. Because you can only keep track of projects and tasks mentally for so long before it's time to start looking for another job!

WeekPlan (http://weekplan.net)

What it does: I discovered WeekPlan just this week. While I pride myself in my ability to find the most efficient processes possible, I can't do it for myself. It's like the professional organizer with a messy house... WeekPlan is based on Stephen R. Covey's bestselling book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, leveraging what's important vs. what's urgent.

Who uses it: Everybody. Like me, and you, and your mom.

What it costs: FREE to $7/mo+

Why I love it: It allows me to define areas of my life in which I then define goals based on if they're urgent or important. I then set aside time each day for urgent tasks and important tasks. No matter how much your boss wishes you were a robot, you're only one person. Your productivity is based on a lot of variables and a variety of studies will support that.

What it doesn't do: I'm not sure yet. It's still new to me but I like it. You can customize lists, add a "parking lot" for off the cuff ideas, and more. It seems to be really flexible so this is TBD.

Google Calendar (https://www.google.com/calendar/)

What it does: This is the simplest one on the list. We mostly use it for staff meetings and availability; which has been a Godsend.

What it costs: It's part of your Google account and FREE. Unless you have Google Apps, like us. But the pricing is still worth it given the ease of use it gives your enterprise.

Why I love it: It's simple. Google Calendar allows us to easily add appointments, availability, and invitations. The best part is that it can sync across multiple platforms, operating systems, browsers, mobile operating systems, and integrate with practically any web-app. Its flexibility and price (free!) make it one of the best tools available to groups.

What it doesn't do: I don't know. You can set reminders for anything. Like brushing your teeth. It's a calendar, so as long as you don't expect too much more than that, there isn't anything it can't do. Seriously, dude. It's a calendar.

What's your experience been with these programs? Do you have a preferred productivity tool? Share in the comments.
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