Ty Collins, January 24, 2021
If you’re new to the concept, team management software is a program (or collection of programs) that can aid you in the day-to-day tasks of managing a group. Team management programs include tools that allow you to manage your group calendar, assign tasks to teammates, collaborate with your cohorts, analyze your performance and more.
While no single software covers all the bases, most have a few strengths and cover a good number of essential management tasks. This post will serve as a compilation of some of the best team management programs available currently. Use this to inform yourself of the choices and see which options most closely align with your own needs.
If there’s one thing that Calendly does heads and shoulders above competitors, it’s automated scheduling. At its most basic, this app allows individuals to set up availability calendars, then share links to said calendars so that others can arrange appointments without endless email chains attempting to nail down the right time. When it comes to teams, Calendly provides a significant edge in planning nearly every move you make.
You can add an unlimited number of users to your Calendly account (though you are billed for each). Once you have your whole team set up on the platform, you’ll be able to manage the individual schedules for each member. Instead of doing everything manually, however, Calendly provides you with flexibility for how you might go about setting those schedules.
For example, let’s say you’ve got a sales team following sales demo best practices and you’re trying to organize meetings for your prospective clients. With Calendly in place, you can have prospects select a time that’s convenient for them, then have that meeting auto-assigned to whichever member of your team is available and ensure the rest of the team is alerted about what’s going on.
Availability isn’t the only preference you can use to set up meeting times, though. You can also include other factors in a team member’s description on a team-wide page. Prospects can browse the members of your team, their specialities, and other pertinent information, then select which team member they’d like to work with and take it from there.
This system reduces the burden of attempting to juggle your team’s calendars all on your own, but there’s even more it can offer in the form of metrics and reporting. Would you like to know which factors drive the engagement of potential clients? Calendly keeps track of your numbers and other critical data, then allows you to compile those stats for thorough analysis. With a clear look at your scheduling activity, you’ll have better insight on what’s working, what’s not and what needs improvement.
Let’s say you’re looking for lightweight collaboration management in your team management software. Trello is one of the more prominent options you can turn to in that regard. It uses a system of online-accessible boards, lists and visual cards to help keep your team on the same page and delegate projects in a manner that’s flexible and engaging.
If you’re familiar with the concept of a kanban board, you’ve got a head start on understanding how Trello works. Trello works with columns, which represent the stages of progress for each item, and individual cards within those columns represent each item of work. As items progress toward completion, you can move them from one column to the next so that everyone knows what stage of the process a particular task is at.
The benefits of using this visual format are twofold. First and foremost, that visual element does an excellent job of keeping everyone on the same page. With it, your team has a clear understanding of every other member’s responsibilities and where in the process each item of work sits. Ultimately, a visual board provides more opportunities for collaboration.
Secondly, the kanban board style allows Trello teams to balance their workloads more precisely. Without the visual, an individual team member could find themselves overwhelmed by work. By understanding exactly how much they’re taking on, however, you’ll find your team members more accurately estimating what they’re able to handle.
In addition to its organizational tools, Trello also provides you and your team with a dose of workflow automation. You’ll be able to eliminate a good number of tedious tasks from your radar with a combination of commands and triggers—sort cards by date, highlight overdue cards, track changes, archive completed tasks and more.
It’s a powerful program, as long as you don’t confuse it for a full-fledged project management application. Its standard features don’t quite bring it to that threshold (though some add-on features can make it a bit more capable). As an easy-to-use collaboration tool, however, Trello alleviates some of your management woes and fills a new role on your team.
For an alternate take on collaboration and task management, look to Asana. Like Trello, Asana isn’t quite to the level of a complete project management tool (it lacks native time-tracking, among other advanced features), but it’s still a feature-rich piece of software that will enhance how you and your team get things done.
Compared to other programs that occupy the same space, Asana is more open ended in how it allows you to manage workflows. But that isn’t to say that there aren’t predefined options within this software. Asana already has a ton of features and potential use cases baked in.
For starters? How about the ability to set and monitor your progress toward your strategic goals? Clever visualizations allow your team to see how their individual contributions build toward the team objectives, inspiring focused work and keeping the entire group on task.
Visualizations also allow you to make sure your team members aren’t taking on too much (or shirking their responsibilities). Asana provides you with a complete picture of which teammates are working on which tasks, and even assign values to those tasks using your own personal criteria so that you can estimate your crew’s total capacity for more work.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg with Asana—the program has a role to play on almost every team. Spend enough time with the program and you’ll be able to build Gantt charts to visualize timelines and project schedules, create forms to manage incoming work requests and automate routine tasks so that your crew can concentrate on more important problems.
If you’re going to use Asana, however, be forewarned that while it is an intuitive platform to use when you get started, it is by no means simple, and the multitude of possibilities might become overwhelming in time. You’ll want to familiarize yourself via a few tutorials before getting started, and continue to keep your eye on how the program evolves, because the Asana team is rather fond of updates, improvements, and adding new features.
If you’re after a multifaceted project management solution, then try Teamwork. It’s dense in its features, and while it might take some time to master everything, it’s also simple enough for you to jump right in and get started.
Within minutes of setting up an account, you can start your first project. Teamwork lets you invite collaborators onto your project, stake out goals and milestones and add a list of tasks for your team to start working on.
Being a feature-rich software solution, Teamwork offers flexibility in how you go about your projects and workflow. Want to view your project as a task list? You can have your tasks laid out in whatever order you prefer with just the press of a button. Similarly, if you prefer a Gantt chart, or even a kanban board style reminiscent of Trello, you’re welcome to create it.
Teamwork conforms to and complements your work style, and also includes advanced features to help you refine your approach. Its work management functions, for instance, give you the power to optimize workflows by tracking teammate progress, mapping out and optimizing how you work so that you become more efficient and providing a clear overview of everything you need to get done so that you can manage it all.
This is all in addition to Teamwork’s powerful time-tracking features. Using an in-app timer, Teamwork gives you a record of every minute spent on your projects, then allows you to analyze what you’re spending time on the most. Add descriptions and details of the work you were doing, relevant tasks completed and whether said time was billable or non-billable. From there, you’ll gain a clearer picture of whether or not you’re working efficiently, and can make adjustments to get your team optimized.
Just remember that if you want to utilize all of this software’s most powerful features you must invest time and effort to learn it well. While you can use Teamwork at first without sitting through dense tutorials, the system’s many advanced options mean you must familiarize yourself with training resources in order to fully benefit.
Hybrid software like Monday.com is worth a look if you want to combine several functions in one centralized location. From a team management perspective, though, this program’s most intriguing features include its online collaboration and work management capabilities.
Similar to options like Asana, Monday.com provides a visual platform to plan and organize all of your team’s work. Its spreadsheet-like presentation allows you to input relevant information as you wish into rows and columns—tasks, level of completeness, who’s responsible for what, has your team received payment for that item, etc. If you can think of a field, Monday.com can make it happen by allowing you to customize your grids as you see fit.
If you want to save time, however, use one of the software’s more than 200 templates. Each template is based on “how real teams use Monday.com,” so chances are you’ll find something ready-made that fits your needs. Once you’re set up, you can explore some of the program’s other noteworthy abilities.
Multiple viewing modes take you out of the default spreadsheet (termed “table” in Monday-parlance) look and display your boards in ways that complement their purpose. Map View, for instance, lets you see physical locations, while Calendar View provides a look at dates and makes sure tasks are laid out properly over a set period of time. Combined with the conversation panel, you and your team can get a proper overview of every job, then discuss what needs to get done to bring you closer to your goals.
Monday.com includes some convenient automation features, such as notifications and status updates, that remove the tedious human element from a bunch of routine tasks and free you up to better manage the team. On top of all this, Monday.com even includes some basic customer relationship management (CRM) functionality for teams that require it. It’s not at the level of sales-dedicated CRM, but it’s sufficient for smaller workloads or as a stopgap measure until you find a true CRM that better fits you and your team’s needs.
Keep in mind, though, that for all Monday.com offers, those boards can get bloated quickly if you aren’t careful. It’s the natural progression of your work as time goes on, of course, and as your team and tasks become more complex, you’ll need to do more organization. Add too much to Monday.com’s system, though, and you might notice a significant drop-off in speed and performance.
If task and time management are your main priority, consider ClickUp, a feature-dense, online collaboration program. First and foremost, ClickUp nails it with intuitive process management and productivity statuses. Instead of selecting between the bog-standard (and restrictive) statuses you might see in other apps of this nature, ClickUp grants you freedom by allowing you to create custom statuses for whatever you’re doing.
This feature allows you to match statuses to your workflow, and your ability to manage tasks is further enhanced by some of ClickUp’s other features. For example, you can view all of your tasks on one screen, then assign different team members to tasks, track your goals, and sync progress across team members (or even multiple teams) so everyone is up to date.
ClickUp also includes time-tracking and time-optimization functions. The software includes native time-tracking, estimates and reporting. You can track time not only via the desktop app, but also through the mobile app and your web browser. Link the time you log back to any tasks you have in ClickUp, then use that for timesheets, billing, reporting and more.
You can customize almost every aspect of the ClickUp platform and tailor elements of your ClickUp experience to such a degree that it’s almost like building your own app around the particulars of your team. This is optional, though, and if you prefer a simple, streamlined experience instead, ClickUp is more than ready to oblige.
If you opt to take the customization route with this software, however, be forewarned—it’s easy to lose your way in ClickUp’s vast sea of configurable settings. The learning curve is steep, and a few missteps might see you wasting precious hours of time to correct. Surmount that initial hurdle, though, and ClickUp provides a smooth ride when it comes to both task and time management.
If you’re managing a team, turn to world-renowned team chat tool Slack. It supplants the need to send most internal emails by allowing you and your teammates to communicate both in real-time and asynchronously.
That messaging ability lies at Slack’s core, and it takes place in channels—groups of people brought together around a specific goal, or because they work on the same team or for whatever other purpose you deem fit. You can set up different channels to have different conversations with your teammates, and within each channel you can add different threads pertaining to the overall topic of discussion.
Slack prides itself on making communication better, but that’s only part of the program’s advantages. Thanks to a slew of integrations, you can use Slack to make many of the existing programs you use even better.
In their review of Slack, PCMag termed its robust integrations as the “Voltron of software,” meaning you could cobble together a number of smaller pieces to form a more powerful whole. The comparison is apt, and with a long list of potential combinations, you’ll find you can use Slack to power multiple aspects of your team management strategy.
Task management, notes and a wiki all in one? That’s Notion’s promise. Notion is a unique team tool with a number of interesting applications.
Its wiki function allows you and your team to create a knowledge base that everyone can refer to at any time. Instead of waiting on an answer from a busy coworker, the team can search the wiki first and see if they can find a solution there.
Task management within Notion takes place similarly to kanban board applications like Trello and Asana. You can lay out all of your team’s tasks in one easy-to-follow visual format, then use your board to track progress toward your goals.
Finally, Notion’s notes and docs allow you to add various types of content and share it with other team members as needed. It’s all simple and straightforward.
There aren’t an abundance of advanced features to speak of here, but with some clever implementation, you and your team can use Notion to accomplish a lot.
If you prefer a team tool that doesn’t have too many extra frills, consider this option. Just know that simplicity, in this case, comes at the expense of having less in the way of integrations with other services and not as many opportunities to expand functionality.
Team management functions don’t always have to fall into the categories of time management, project management and communications. Programs like BambooHR, for example, provide assistance with HR management.
BambooHR helps you create job listings and post them across the internet. It takes care of distributing your listings, not only to your company’s career page and social media pages, but also to job sites like Glassdoor, saving you a considerable amount of time when it comes to recruiting.
With your job posting complete, BambooHR helps you field applications and then narrow down applicants you’d like to consider for the position. Once you’ve made a hiring decision, the software also takes some of the headache out of onboarding your new employee. You can add them to your organization from the BambooHR dashboard and send them important starting documentation, like their new hire packet or employee login information.
Beyond hiring and onboarding new team members, though, BambooHR is also of great benefit when it comes to managing your current team. You can generate reports on team performance, keep track of employee files, track compensation or benefits and just about everything else you’d need to do as a busy HR manager.
For teams focused on developing and delivering the best software products in the business, Jira Software is the task management tool designed to aid them in achieving that goal. Chief among its many features are its task overviews, which are divided into Scrum boards (great for sprint tasks and keeping things moving) and kanban boards (the board view common in other team software like Trello and Asana).
Jira Software also allows your team to create roadmaps for whatever product you’re developing. Roadmaps let you create a vision of your end goals, along with the path you’ll need to follow to get there. In addition to keeping your team in the know, you can share this path (along with the timetable and list of specific tasks) with other teams in your organization so that everyone is on the same page.
Finally, like most robust, team-focused software, Jira has reporting and analytics built right in. You’ll be able to track data through sprint reports, burndown charts, velocity charts, and more. Your data-driven insights will help you improve delivery and performance on your upcoming software products while optimizing your workflow to continuously deliver post-launch.
Just be aware that the learning curve for this software can be steep for some, so if ease of use is a major concern, you might want to consider other alternatives. For those well versed in creating and using software, though, Jira is one of the best team tools you can have in your arsenal.
Team management might be tricky business, but plenty of software exists to help make the task easier. While you might be hard pressed to find one single software solution to suit your every need, plenty of options fill particular niches.
The options presented here represent some of the best you’ll find to date, so seriously consider adding them to your team management stack. And remember, with the right combination of programs, you can assemble a powerful lineup sure to help you tackle an array of management duties. Best of luck!
Ty is the head of digital acquisition and content at Calendly.
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