Make your team work: Online solutions for group productivity
Simple and affordable project management apps that you can use as a student or a professional.
It’s important to figure out how to work smart as well as working hard. By tapping into free resources and using the right digital tools it’s possible to streamline efforts and improve productivity.
The following digital tools can make a huge difference when it comes to working on a group project, not only as a student but as part of a professional team.
Trello is simple to use and has a free option, making it a great choice for a team project. The straightforward interface is like a virtual pin-up board, allowing you to create tasks and nominate people to take care of them.
Set up a few columns like ‘To Do’, ‘In Progress’ and ‘Completed’ and click and drag each item back and forth as necessary. You can colour code, edit and add attachments to your cards with ease.
Completed tasks can be archived and there is also a filter function to make it easier to focus on a specific task. Because the software is cloud-based, you can check progress via any browser or stay up to date by installing the Trello app on your phone or tablet.
Popular with professionals around the world and at a student level, Slack is instant messenger and then some.
This free web-based app allows you to create specific groups and workrooms where conversations can be carried out relating to the task at hand.
You can chat one-on-one or create a group chat that everyone can see and contribute to. Slack users can upload and share files and search conversation history to refer to previous discussions.
Image courtesy: Hangouts on the Google Play store
As discovered by nbn's virtual band Two Sense, meeting in an online video call is a fast way to collaborate and smooth-out confusion that can be caused by sending emails and text based messages.
Using Google Hangouts means all members can catch up for a chat from work, school or home. Creating an account is free and you can connect via any desktop computer or mobile device.
The platform allows everyone who is in the chatroom to share screens and attach documents for faster catch ups.
This online tool lets contributors capture, develop and share visual ideas as part of the ‘mind mapping’ technique that encourages brainstorming early on in a project.
You can use MindMeister individually or as a group to visualise your early ideas and make updates in real time. The platform allows you to turn your ‘sketches’ into images and slideshows once you have firmed up the direction and goals of your project.
Users can get started with their Google or Facebook login and can download an iOS or Android app to use on the go. Your project members can comment and even vote on each other’s contributions as well as adding links, images and attachments.
The cheapest MindMeister plan is around US$6 per user per month and offers unlimited mind maps.
Image courtesy: Redbooth on the Google Play store
Formerly known as TeamBox, RedBooth project management software is free if you have ten users or less on your project.
The features of this cloud-based software allow you to assign tasks and subtasks to each individual on your project, incorporating due dates so that you can work within a specified timeframe.
On the free version of RedBooth, users can chat, make comments and add up to 2GB of attachments. To make working as a team a smoother experience, it integrates with Google Drive, Slack and DropBox. You can use RedBooth on your browser or downloaded it as an app.
The features list of Asana project management software is extensive. You can create tasks, assign them to people and then view on your dashboard how many are complete and what is still outstanding.
Users can chat within the platform and even turn comments into new tasks. Tasks can then be broken into subtasks and assigned to individuals, with due dates and notifications popping up to ensure things get done on time.
The free version of Asana is enough for a small team, offering unlimited tasks, projects and conversations for up to 15 members.
Use one or a combination of these easy to use project management apps and make it easier for your team to work together and stay on schedule.
Remember: whenever signing up to a new online service, don't break the first rule of passwords.