CPA Firm Business Development

Our Favorite Productivity Apps

Raissa Evans | April 19, 2017

This week AAM members got together to discuss productivity apps. The right tool for the job – we’ve all found at least one. The right discovery feels life-saving, sanity saving, not another thing to do or learn. We asked participants to join in and exchange their favorite can’t-live-without mobile apps, browser extensions and bookmarks. Below are the top 3 takeaways from the discussion, but this doesn’t compare to being there firsthand!

We couldn’t live without our project management tools!

One member shared she had just implemented Easy Projects after review of many of them. Her key considerations were ease of use and cost, and it also came with a built in budgeting function. I’ve implemented Trello with a couple different teams, and although it’s great for things like content and process strategy mapping and status meetings, it is weak on calendaring. A few users had tried out Asana, which is free, the best part being that when you complete a task, a happy little unicorn flies across your screen! Unicorns!

Teamwork had failed miserably for one of my organizations, as it was overly complex and therefore users did not adopt it. On a final note, Office 365 actually has a new project management tool built in, but no one had test driven it yet.

Who doesn’t need more time in their day?

We were all dying for productivity apps that actually save us time. One of the best ways to save time is to cut out all the back and forth in scheduling. You Can Book Me and Calendly both have functionality where a guest can book straight into your availability (like an online appointment book) and you both are sent the resulting meeting to your calendars. YCBM even has a text message reminder function. If those aren’t options for your setup, the desktop version of Outlook has a feature “email my calendar” so you can share your free/busy times or full details with someone over the date range you desire.

Doodle was the favored easy and free tool for booking with groups. It’s a dead simple polling software where you can set up days/times as multiple options, then send it to people requesting them to yes/no their availability. You can easily see consensus.

And finally, the AI virtual assistant scheduler I’ve tested for the last few years is out of beta and available to the public! It’s called X.ai, and you email CC her when you want to set an appointment with someone, like coffee. You set up a few preferences ahead of time, and give it access to your online calendar. Using natural language processing, she knows that “My assistant, Amy, is going to help find us a time for coffee” means carry on this conversation with this person and leave me out of it. She emails both of you the meeting invite when she gets agreement.

Avoid being counter-productive with productivity apps.

One of the most important considerations when implementing technology is to get the scope (your needs and requirements assessment) right before you spend time – and sometimes money and buy-in – to implement it. Some important considerations are who needs to be able to use it (you vs. a team, or even a team with different roles as contributors), whether it has open APIs to integrate with other systems and tools that you use, whether it is cloud-based, mobile and has a browser extension but also is available to use offline when there’s no wifi, and whether your data is backed up and exportable out of the system. You may also want to consider how hard it is for you or others to integrate it into your normal work routine, and talk to your IT department about any security concerns.

About Virtual Campfires

During these monthly video chats, AAM members share information, best practices and challenges surrounding a topic. Mark your calendars and register for next month, May 17 at 3pm CST/4pm EST, as we discuss AAM Summit preparation!

 

About Raissa Evans

As Chief Strategist of Running Reload, Raissa works with accounting industry leaders and overwhelmed marketing teams on strategies to reach growth goals. She is a former marketer of the year and AAM treasurer, and can be reached at [email protected] or (713) 416-3215.

Raissa Evans on LinkedIn

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