Business is good.
Customers are signing up.
Clients are rushing through the door to do business with you.
Money is pouring in.
You hire more people to help with the demand and rush.
And that’s when it all begins.
Everyone starts spending a lot of time in internal meetings, coordinating work.
There is a process but things keep being missed.
While some staff are working hard doing repetitive tasks, others are wasting time waiting for work to do.
Customers and clients start highlighting that things take longer now to get delivered to them.
So how do you solve your team productivity issues and improve overall efficiency and effectiveness?
How do you make the leap from the basic set of chat apps, email, docs and spreadsheets, to a better solution to help the team work better?
The Real Problem With Tools
While there are an endless supply of articles, tips, and other how-tos on how to improve your productivity, in this piece, we will focus on tools that help improve productivity.
When it comes to work, people who work together need to be able communicate and update one another in a timely manner, and at the same time have that communication tracked. Chat tools and emails are great for quick exchanges, but terrible when it comes to storing work information in an organised way and being able to retrieve it easily. Miscommunication happens often when context is lost in chat or email conversations.
What’s need are proper work management tools that can help the team collectively store information related to a piece of work and be able to retrieve it easily in an up-to-date and timely manner.
First of all, there are basic tools like Trello and Asana that are project management tools. These tools help do the job. However as the complexity of the workflow increases, these tools start hitting their limits in being able to store critical data beyond the basics like the status, dates, owner, etc. Sure, there is the description field where you can store all the data, but very soon it gets impossible to find all the key information and very soon the team is back in the spot where context is lost and miscommunication is taking place again. This results in inefficiency and lower productivity.
What’s needed are tools that not sure help you to track and monitor the deliverables and their statuses, but also all the details in a concise, accurate and organised manner so they can be easily referred to.
One work management tool that we highly suggest is ClickUp. This is a great work management platform where on the surface it looks like a project management tool. However when you dig deeper, there is a lot more that can be done beyond storing and tracking the status of deliverables.
There are an endless list of features that makes ClickUp stand head and shoulders above other basic project management tools out there. Here are some of our favourite features:
Custom Fields that allows you to store and organise any piece of key information such as dates, phone numbers, email addresses, physical addresses, contact, etc. They also have other fields like dropdowns, labels, checkboxes if that is what’s required to help keep track of things.
You can use tasks relationships to link two or more different tasks together. This results in you creating a mini relational database.
ClickUp has an internal Documents location where you can store and organise loose pieces of information related to clients, projects, etc. What’s powerful about this is that you can also link to documents from tasks very similar to the tasks relationship feature mentioned perviously, reducing the need to rely on another store of data like Google Docs or Dropbox because all your key information can be stored and organised in ClickUp.
Slash shortcut. With a quick keystroke of the ‘/’ you get a list of formatting and linking options from any text field or text area in ClickUp. This quick shortcut is a real timesaver saving time from frequently accessing the mouse.
There’s a whole lot more that can be done in ClickUp so we encourage you to check it out.
Another great platform that we suggest is airtable. While ClickUp is more tailored towards work management, airtable is a more general purpose platform where you may simply store information, or build you own custom workflow and apps. Airtable is known as a no code or low code development platform that allows you to build some basic workflows or apps.
On the surface it looks like an online spreadsheet but once you doing things like linking different records between tables, it very quickly becomes a simple database you can easily access.
Here are some power features why you should use airtable
Building custom views allows for different perspectives of the same data in real time. This is powerful since different teams require different perspectives of the same data. Example: the accounting team and the marketing team need to view client data but they view at it from their respective perspectives. Now each team can create their own custom view on top of the data that meets their needs. This allows them to view the same data in real time. No more exchanging spreadsheets over email to provide updates.
Automation, Custom Apps and API integration
Storing and view data in airtable is really just the first step. There will come a point where you want more done with the data beyond custom fields and formulas in the airtable tables. Very often there are some repetitive tasks that needs too be done as part of a workflow. With airtable automations, these can be automated. A very simple example is an email notification can be sent when a field in a record is changed. There is no need for the person doing the update to email the next person to inform that a change has occurred. More complex automations can be done with external third-party apps.
Airtable also have a API interface and as an extension of that custom apps, allowing you to build more complex logic on top of your data in airtable. This could be some processing logic, or a certain reporting view or dashboard, or an integration with a third-party platform. There is a marketplace for these apps allowing you to integrate your airtable Base with external tools. This saves you cost and time from writing your own custom apps.
These automation and custom app features are a big time saver and cost saver and that can greatly improve productivity by reducing repetitive manual work that comes with a normal spreadsheet.
The Power of No Code
What’s powerful about airtable is you can build your own workflow or app in airtable instead of committing to a special-purposed app if you are unsure if you really need it or if the tool is right for you. Maybe you need a CRM, a project management platform, and a dashboard to view everything but think everything is too overwhelming and expensive. You can try building and prototyping your workflow in airtable first so all your information is in one place. Then when the time is right, migrate out to a dedicated special-purposed app.
Make (previously Integromat)
Make solves a very big problem that slows productivity and that problem is the use of multiple platforms to perform our work. You may have started your business using Google Workspaces for basic communication and collaborations, and Shopify for your e-commerce web storefront. However as your business grows, you soon find that you also need to use Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for your social media; Clickup to manage work with your employees, slack to chat and communicate, etc. Employees nowadays are using more and more apps and heavily dependent on them.
Make lightens this burden by integrating and automating your workflow among these apps. Instead of manually passing files between platforms, or worst, copy and pasting information, you can now use Make to automate that process so key information and data can arrive at where it needs to be so work can be accomplished.
On top of that, Make also does a lot more by allowing you to create triggers so that certain actions can take place where certain conditions are met. You can also process data by either combining pieces of information, breaking a chuck of data down or transforming data from one form to another desired form.
There is a whole lot more so if you’re looking to get more done without hiring more employees, consider adding Make into your business toolbox.
You have data in a Google Sheets or airtable and now that data has grown to become an integral part of your business workflow, requiring you to share it with staff. However you also need to be able to share it in a controlled way so the data is meaningful. Very simply, you need an app to be able to allow your team members to interact with the data in prescribed ways that they are supposed to and not otherwise. Now with Stacker you can build an app that will allow you to do so.
Stacker is a very easy no-code platform that greatly simplifies the app building process so you do not need any programming skills to build the app you need. Within a very short time, you can build an app on top of your spreadsheet or airtable with proper interfaces and proper access control where you can give the people the access and workflow they need to do their work.
The beauty of this is with the Stacker access control system, you may create user roles with the appropriate permissions for each user role.
Now you don’t have to keep passing that spreadsheet around, or share a single login to your airtable base with everyone in the company. No need to hire an expensive developer who needs months to build what you want, blowing your budget. No need to worry about the cost of hosting and maintaining your apps.
That would really help you increase your team’s productivity while keeping your business costs low and all without too much trouble for sure.
While there are many other platforms out there we could talk about, we highly recommend you try the apps mentioned here to help with you with your team’s productivity if you’re facing productivity challenges.
Here in Baseweave, we help our clients improve their productivity using tools like airtable, Make (Integromat) and Stacker, so if you are in the need of such a solution, or simply have questions, do contact us so we can start a conversation about how to help you.