Are you wondering what technology tools might help you manage your work projects?
Hi, I’m Sarah Featherstone, and today we’re reviewing the best tools for the workplace
The best tools for organizing information.
Project management software
Evernote is a technology that comes pretty close to doing it all — but it’s one of the best tools for organizing information and responsibilities for company projects.
With this technology, you can save and organize documents, photos, files, and projects, simply by dragging and dropping from you device.
You can also use download the Web Clipper browser extension so that you can “clip” a webpage or bits of information from a website, allowing you to easily construct a cohesive project profile—both for your team and your client. So, when you’re researching for your client or creating content for the next team meeting, all of your research can be easily saved in one place.
For business owners and companies of any size, Evernote offers a business version that allows you to visualize your ideas through projects, which can all be created and organized through Evernote.
It’s also a highly collaborative technology that not only organizes your information, but also helps organize your team. Spaces, a feature in Evernote, serve as a place where all team members have access and can share, organize, and plan their next big ideas for their clients (including all the notes about the project, the potential marketing campaign, the photographs for your next advertisement, and so much more).
Overall, Evernote is a beast of a technology, and offers so many features that will help organize your team and all of the information that each essential member contributes to a project.
Basecamp, like Evernote, markets itself to the business and companies that need help organizing their teams and all of the information being floated around through email, meetings, and office conversations, because as we know, keeping all of that information in a organized project is where things get difficult. So, Basecamp is here to help.
It claims to be the organizational system that can organize projects, teams, and company communications — all in one place.
It’s easiest to see how this tool works best by envisioning how a team might go about using Basecamp for a project (or many simultaneous projects). For a project included on Basecamp, a project board is created — which contain additional boards within the project.
The project includes each team member, who can individually see and have access to the many boards listed under that project, including:
- a Message board, where team members can communicate internally and share progress and drafts for feedback
- a To-do board where work is assigned and team members can check off that it’s been completed, so no one is left wondering where everyone is in a project
- a Schedule board that shows dates and deadlines, so no one will forget where they are on the project or when the next meeting is; and a documents and files board that includes all of the media and components for the larger project.
- a documents and files board that includes all of the media and components for the larger project.
There’s also a Campfire space for chats, similar to text messages, so team members can stay in touch with the group easily.
Members get emails and updates whenever another team member posts to the board, and there’s also an automatic check-ins, that sends out a message to every member asking what they worked on today (or whatever other check-in a boss might want to know), and everyone can stay updated and organized along the way.
Basecamp also has a feature that organizes designated teams, such as the marketing team or the branded content team, into groups, so you can easily navigate who to reach out to if you have issue or concern with a project.
Basecamp includes a great video that gives you the breakdown of all it can do.
Asana is another great organizational tool that focuses on helping team manage projects and tasks.
It focuses on assigning tasks to specific members, who can then see what they’re responsible for and the deadlines.
One of the unique features of Asana is it’s timeline component, which lets a team chart and track their project goals — while providing a useful visual network for the many components of a project and who’s in charge of what.
Asana includes a short video in its website that shows it’s main features and how it might help you organize and manage your next project.
Trello is another great tool that prides itself on helping businesses organize their information and create a collaborative space for all of their projects.
This technology also breaks tasks and projects down into boards, where team members can assign tasks, keep track of future, forecasted, and completed projects, and all of the stats that demonstrate how those projects landed with their clients and intended audience.
Boards are broken down into lists, which can include any to-dos or steps that need to be taken within each category or board. Within those lists, you can click to open cards, which is where team members can create content that will help them communicate and collaborate. Cards can include due dates, specific files or components for projects, as well as checklists and comments for feedback or internal communication.
You can then share your boards with other team members, or individuals outside of your organization. And Trello makes it easy by syncing with other applications, like Google Drive, Dropbox, or Evernote.
Here’s a great video to learn more about Trello.
The best tools for presenting information.
I have no doubt you’ve heard of Google and that you likely have a Google account. And that is one of the many reasons Google Slides is top of the list for our presentation technology tool.
Because so many people already utilize Google accounts, Google Slides is an easy choice. Professional in its appearance, it boasts templates that are a bit sleeker than its main competitor.
To learn more about using Google Slides, here’s a great online tutorial.
Keynote is another great option for presenting workplace projects.
This tools particularly works great for team presentations since you can share and collaborate with anyone; your team member’s additions and edits instantly show up on the entire team’s version
One of the best features for this technology is that you can easily add audio and narration for your presentations, which make those recorded trainings even better for your audience.
Once you’re done creating your presentation, you can save it as a PowerPoint file. Or, you you import PowerPoint slides into your Keynote.
Here’s a quick introductory video if you’re interested in seeing Keynote in action.
Storytelling has become a powerful tool in almost every field, and Atavist is answering the call. No matter what information you’re presenting — whether it’s statistical data or the 10 best technology tools — Atavist helps you narrate your presentation in a powerful visual story. Even better, it comes as a storytelling website, so you can easily send the link to your audience — no matter where they’re located — or allow it to exist online for people to find.
For an example of an Atavist presentation, look no further. This review and presentation of technology tools for the workplace was created with Atavist. But the possibilites for the stories to be told through this tool are limitless, so I hope you share yours.
In this day-and-age where a compelling presentation often includes visuals, it’s important to mention the power of a good video. And that’s why iMovie makes the list.
This application allows you to add photos, video, and text to create a short (or longer) visual presentation. It’s easy drag-and-drop features have a quick learning curve, so you can start making your own video productions in no time.
Here’s a look at the panel, where you can easily import assets, drop them into the editing stream, and clip, rearrange, and add texts and audio to make a quick introductory video (as I was doing here), or a more professional visual presentation that will capture your audience more than just text.
And in case you wanted to see that quick introductory video I made for a class in under 10 minutes ...
Think about the next time you could get people interacting and collaborating through presentations, rather than simply listening to someone facilitate a meeting.
The best tools for communicating information.
Project management software
I have to revisit Atavist and Evernote because, as I mentioned before, they do amazing work at helping organizations and business communicate — internally and externally.
In particular, Atavist help you communicate your information through a powerful narrative, which if done well, makes your projects all the more compelling.
Evernote is the king of helping you organize and communicate information to a team, though Asana, Trello, and Basecamp could certainly make their way into this discussion, too.
Group chat applications
I also want to discuss technologies like GroupMe and WhatsApp, that help groups communicate to one another by creating specific online spaces for group chats. While many of the above project management tools have an internal chat feature, sometimes a workplace may want something that’s really meant for mobile communication and quick check-ins. GroupMe and WhatsApp make that easy.
Both apps offer phone and video call, in addition to group texts. They also allow users to send and share videos, photos, and documents — and it’s all done privately.
Group chat applications like WhatsApp and GroupMe are not only great for workplace environments, but especially useful for teams that are spread throughout the world. Both applications allow you to use your phone’s internet or Wi-Fi and avoid pesky international fees.
For larger businesses, it’s worth mentioning the option of intranet software for communication needs.
Having a private network that connects the hardware of your team members to each other and the outside internet can be a useful way to facilitate communication and collaboration. It’s also important for some companies to consider how to keep their information and data private, and these programs are a great way to ensure better security.
Communifire, by Axero Solutions, helps departments stay internally connected, while also creating a strong network between departments.
Communifire offers internal knowledge libraries to store information, project management platforms, as well as a social intranet and forms for internal communications.
It’s an all-encompassing intranet software that makes working communicating easier and more secure.
The best educational technologies for creating workplace projects.
Adobe Creative Suite
If you haven’t heard of Adobe Creative Suite, then you’re living on another planet. This is THE application software for design teams, and not much compares in terms of its abilities.
Anywhere from editing and altering photos to creating illustrations; designing documents to finding assets for your projects, Adobe had you covered.
The library and online databases
If you’re lucky enough to be connected to a library database, it’s worth mentioning the plethora of information that can aid you in gaining the research and information to help you create amazing projects. Maybe we’ve forgotten about the power of libraries, but there’s a depth of information found in those (virtual) stacks that can’t always be tracked down by a simple Google search.
In my opinion, print is still in — and sometimes you just need a strong research article in a scholarly journal to backup your work and provide the foundation for your project decisions. So, don’t forget about wandering those stacks every now and again.
Project management software
And, once again, these amazing programs have to make the list. Other than organizing information and teams, this is where these programs shine. Evernote, Asane, Bascamp, and Trello allow you to easily create project boards and include all of the necessary information and timelines, so those projects will come to life effectively — everytime.
Atavist helps you create a powerful narrative for information that otherwise might be boring — visually or otherwise. We’ll revisit this idea repeatedly, but stories have power and the more you can use these technologies to create compelling narratives for your teams and your projects, the more powerful your work will be.
The best tools for allowing access to a project.
Project management software
All of the organizational tools have to make this list, too, since their main purpose is to make team access easier and more efficient.
By creating online, organized spaces for project creation and project building, teams are given access to the various information, files, and data that should be considered and utilized in their work. Rather than having to search through email chains and various online and physical spaces, these applications make it easy by having one program for all project needs.
Group chat applications
I’m revisiting these group chat applications because communications between team members help create access to information and projects — which is vitally important for effective and collaborative workplaces.
Making it easy for teams to communicate is key to creating access, so any communication programs could easily be thought of within this category as well.
The best tools for constructing workplace information.
Online educational resources
Lynda.com is an online education company that offers courses focused on learning software, creative, and business skills. Taught by industry experts, you can learn anything from the Adobe Creative Suite to how to manage your taxes.
When thinking about constructing workplace information, I want something that not only allows my team to gather the information we need, but also quickly and thoroughly learn the missing skills or knowledge that could make that project stand out. Lynda.com helps a company, and all of its team members, continue their professional development in their field.
Simply search for the skill you’re hoping to acquire or the software you want to learn, and Lynda.com will provide a list of courses you can choose from under that topic. You can add videos to a playlist or watch instantly.
Project management software
When thinking about constructing workplace information, or putting together the many components of a project, I have to return to the first organizational and presentational tools that were discussed previously in this post.
They claims to do it all for businesses (or pretty much everything), especially project management software like Evernote, Basecamp, and Asana, and you can probably see why. These technologies, because of their widespread applicability, help teams construct projects much more easily and effectively because all of the information, communications, and components are stored in one, well-organized place.
I think it’s also important to discuss how a company can construct a productive and meaningful brand and workplace environment.
Donald Miller, author of Building a StoryBrand, offers practical and useful strategies for building a marketing and branding vision that revolves around narrative.
By first having a strong brand, companies are unified and clear on their mission, which allows the work they create to be a strong reflection of the company’s values.
His book offers step-by-step strategies for creating a strong brand and clarifying a company’s message to gain costumers’ trust.
Through the use of StoryBrand Brandscripts, companies can help construct a message that clients will understand and team members can get behind.
StoryBrand also offers online courses, private workshops, and corporate training for those who want to dive deeper into their mission.
Graphic and data visualizers
Lastly, when thinking about constructing meaningful work, I’m always thinking about the best modes and media for a particular projects. In particular, I often search for ways in which information and data can be visually displayed in a more visually appealing way. As data visualization researcher Manual Lima notes in his viral TedTalk, the way we think about knowledge is webbed and interconnected. Creating striking, networked visuals becomes important for companies wanting to demonstrate connections and strong support for their project decisions.
Returning to the power of narrative and storytelling, one of my favorite data visualizers if Datawrapper. Created for journalists, this technology allows you to create striking charts and map that present statistical data in elegantly designed visualizers.
These visualizers are colorful and designed to add powerful images to your project’s story.
The best tools for transporting workplace information.
Project management software
There’s no way that Evernote can’t make the list considering it’s amazing Web Clipper feature, which helps you transport information from various sources into a single, convenient location. (Can you tell I’m a fan of this tool?)
I will also mention the other organizational tools, Basecamp, Asana, and Trello, since these are also great tools that can help you transport all of the various components included in a project into one unified and organized location.
What I’m also thinking about when it comes to transportation — other than just simply how we collect and organization individuals and teams from a multitude of locations — is how workplaces often need to transport information from one medium to another to provide more effective communicational strategies and greater accessibility. As discussed with visual organizers and data visualization, a long list of numbers becomes more meaningful and eye-catching to an audience when it’s transported into a map and is made visually meaningful.
For this reason, I include graphic organizers and data visualizations as great tools for transporting workplace information.
Visual and graphic organizers
ArcGIS Online allows a company or business to create maps with already existing census information. This could be particularly helpful for businesses that utilize mapping and analysis, especially when thinking about marketing data and demographic information.
The other graphic and visual organizers that were mentioned, including the free and less pricey options like Canva, Infogram, and Coggle, would also be worth mentioning for their ability to transport information from one form to another. And depending on the data set or the network of information you’re hoping to organize and visualize, there are many options that would fit into your project and price point.
The best tools for assisting teams.
In so many ways, all of the technologies listed in the other categories could fit into this one as well. When thinking about the tools that help your companies organize, present, and create information and projects, we should always be thinking about technologies that assist us in meaningful ways — and in ways that make our jobs easier. Though I won’t go over them all again, I’d encourage you to think about what category your company may need a helping hand, and find the tool from the list above to provide support in that area.
Accessibility and usability software
Another consideration for any business is how to make your projects and work environment user-friendly and accessible to everyone. For this reason, businesses should be aware of and know how to use the built-in, free software that comes on computers and programs, because why pay for extra if you don’t need to?
For Mac Users, there are many built-in, easy-to-learn accessibility software that not only makes information and programs more accessible, but also assists its users — including those with vision or hearing loss, limitations in physical and motor skills, or learning and literacy needs.
For Mac users, VoiceOver and closed captioning are great examples of the assistive technology that’s already included on your computer. No need to pay for additional software when you can utilize what’s already included in your hardware purchase. Visit your hardware’s main website and search for the accessibility features you can start using today.
Graphic and visual organizers
I’m returning to graphic and visual organizers because research has shown that having information and projects with various media components — especially visual aids — help a variety of learners. So many great options exist today, including the ones mentioned above, so there’s no reason that a company shouldn’t be including graphic and data visualizers in their presentations, projects, and online content.
And for the last time, I’ll remind you of the power of storytelling. This may seem like an odd category to bring up the use of narrative elements, but we, as humans, are wired to hear and process stories (Miller). So, if you feel like you need to assist your audience or clients, or even your team members, in understanding the work you’re doing as a company, try presenting and organizing that information into narrative form. It just might help you create a more compelling story of your company’s mission and values.
If you’re looking for a simple tool to do this, Miller’s book, mentioned above, offers great tips on how these simple elements of narrative can clarify your message and invite your audience into your story.
Where do I go from here?
We discussed a lot of tools, the pros and cons of each, and how a company can categorize their technological needs. From here, I’d encourage you and your business to determine the areas where you need the most help and see what tool (or tools) can address those issues.
As this presentation demonstrates, there are many tools that serve multiple purposes and fit within several categories, so consider how you can get the most out of your money and time.
A good place to start might be a project management tool that can address various needs of organizing, creating, and implementing project. Or if you’re looking for a major overhaul, creating a strong brand by using StoryBrand BrandScripts, or a comparable strategy, might help you identify gaps in your planning and productivity and how to best manage those issues upfront (Miller).
Wherever you’re headed in this business world, I hope you find a technology that can help you get there.
Adobe. (2018). Adobe creative suite. [webpage]. Retrieved from https://www.adobe.com/creativecloud.html.
Apple Inc. (2018). Accessibility. [webpage]. Retrieved from https://www.apple.com/accessibility/mac/.
Apple Inc. (2018). iMovie. [webpage]. Retrieved from https://www.apple.com/imovie/.
Apple Inc. (2018) Keynote. [webpage]. Retrieved from https://www.apple.com/keynote/.
Atavist. (2018). Video tutorials. [webpage]. Retrieved from https://docs.atavist.com/videotutorials.
Axero Solutions. (2018). Communifire. [webpage]. Retrieved from. https://axerosolutions.com/.
Basecamp. (2018) “Here’s how Basecamps works.” [Video file] Retrieved from https://basecamp.com/how-it-works
Canva. (Canva – Design anything. Publish anywhere). (2013 Nov 13). A simple video guide to Canva. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XqYti78riU8.
Datawrapper GmbH. (2018). Datawrapper. [website]. Retrieved from https://www.datawrapper.de/.
Donald Miller Words, LLC. (2018).StoryBrand. [website] Retrieved from https://storybrand.com/.
Doyle, Alison. (2018 March 21). Hard skills vs. soft skills: What’s the difference? Retrieved from https://www.thebalancecareers.com/hard-skills-vs-soft-skills-2063780.
Esri. (2018). ArcGIS Online. [website]. Retrieved from https://www.arcgis.com/index.html.
Evernote Corporation. (2018). Why Evernote. [webpage]. Retrieved from https://evernote.com/why-evernote.
GroupMe Inc. (2018). GroupMe. [website]. Retrieved from https://groupme.com/en-US/.
James Madison University. (2018). JMU Libraries. [website]. Retrieved from https://www.lib.jmu.edu/.
Loon, Mark. (2016). Professional Practice in Learning and Development. Philadelphia, PA: Kogan Page.
LinkedIn Corporation. (2018). Lynda.com. [website]. Retrieved from https://www.lynda.com/.
Lee, David. (David Lee EdTech). (2017 Jul 16). How to: Quick tutorial for new Google Slides presentation 2018. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kYA6GLAzz9A.
Lima, Manual. (2015 March). A visual history of human knowledge. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/manuel_lima_a_visual_history_of_human_knowledge.
Miller, Donald. (2017). Building a storybrand. New York: Harper Collins Publishers.
Skills Factory. (bai) (2016 May 13). Keynote 2016: Tutorial for beginners + general overview. [video file]/ Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JX9KDsoQfJo.
Trello. (2017 Jan 20). Trello: A quick overview. [video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tVooja0Ta5I.
WhatsApp Inc. (2018) WhatsApp. [webpage]. Retrieved from https://www.whatsapp.com/.