As a journalist who has reported on startups and investors…
“The bad news is, time flies. The good news is, you’re the pilot.” ― Michael Altshuler
The good news is that I have seen genius entrepreneurs and their brilliant teams come together to build a startup. The bad news is that I have witnessed them fail because of poor time and team management skills. For a startup, time is money and it should be spent judiciously ; teams are their biggest asset and they should be valued. Technology can be used to solve these two problems, here is why and how.
Why use technology to manage time and teams?
Most startups have employees spread across the globe, in many companies people also chose to work from home as it saves cost. In such a scenario, it can be difficult to keep track of who is doing what and more importantly, there is no concrete check on the progress of work. Weekly calls or email interactions cannot reflect measurable Work-In-Progress (WIP) analysis always. At times, tasks need quicker turnaround time. Informal channels like WhatsApp groups often lead to lost important conversations. Reliable technology apps are a must for two main reasons:
Each employee is accountable for his/her own targets
Using an app will help all employees to list their tasks along with the timelines assigned to it. This helps in setting the momentum of work and there can always be a red alert when targets are delayed for some reason. The reasons for delay in accomplishing tasks also must be listed by each employee. This can be an effective self-assessment exercise. Each employee could also be asked to maintain his/her score card so that by month/weekend end they know what tasks they completed, what they could not and why.
Transparency leads to time saving and no duplication
Use of tech apps or even something as simple as shared google docs/sheets allows team members to see the tasks assigned to each other. This reduces duplication of work and helps team members to direct work to each other or even ask and extend help. Having transparent work flow also helps increasing motivation as everyone’s WIP is visible to everyone.
What app to use ?
Choosing what app to use can be a cumbersome task. Chetan Vinchhi, co-founder, Lifetape summarises how one can choose what app to use, “Identify the methodology and set of tools that will be used for each task. Traditional tools like email and documents usually suffice for autonomous tasks i.e tasks which have a clear owner. For asynchronous tasks i.e tasks which have multiple owners, use Google docs collaboration liberally, along with emails. Occasional call/hangout will help nudge the team forward on an as needed basis. Use the face-to-face meetings, hangouts and calls mainly for the synchronous i.e tasks that need real-time collaboration or brainstorming) tasks”.
The popular tech apps used by startups
While there are many options available, different apps would work for entrepreneurs for various reasons. Here are a few popular tech apps used by startups WunderNova spoke to:
Founder, Peat Technology
Technology/ App used : Trello
Why: “We work from a number of different cities and sometimes in three continents at the same time. So we organize our daily tasks online in Trello, where you can use boards with tasks and comment on them. Its good to have a general overview about what everybody is doing, could be a little more easy to customize, though. Trello also connects with your calendar and reminds you about deadlines.”
Technology/Apps used : Todoist and Trello
Why : “It helps me plan my day accordingly, I can list activities and define its priority. It gives me an idea how much work is to be done in a day and I can share and assign tasks. These apps help in team management as you know what’s going on in the team without even asking them.”
Technology/Apps used : Asana
Why : “I use it for better tasks management and project management for my small team. It is flexible and easy to use. I can track the progress of the team, as we have deadlines attached, using dashboards. It works well with small teams.”
Technology/Apps used : Trello and Asana
Why: “We only use apps when there is something planned for a month or more as we tend to forget and not use it for daily tasks as we are sitting together and it makes more sense for us to just stand and ask the other one for a thing rather than putting it up on Trello and then waiting for that person to respond .Also, we use it because it’s free for small teams and saves money and overhead expenses for other tools.”
Founder, Arkarise Business Solutions
Technology/Apps used: Wunderlist app
Why: “We use this to assign tasks to the concerned person. The content displayed on the app can be viewed simultaneously by all team members. We get reminder emails for the assigned task on assigned date, till the task gets completed. It’s the best app for team management and is also compatible on both on windows and iphone”
Other popular apps are Slack, Basecamp and Harvest which many entrepreneurs mentioned that they use. Whether the team is big or small, tech apps have advantages to offer. The pricing varies on the basis of features used and the team size.
Popular Tech apps