At Cardwise we develop web and mobile apps with only one thing in mind: how can we make day-to-day tasks easier, or in other words, how can these apps improve productivity? How can we minimize input but maximise the output?

We use several apps on a day-to-day basis. In some cases we’re very enthusiastic when we try something new, and sometimes we’re disappointed because the apps don’t deliver on their promise.

Productivity can be improved in several fields, so we’ve divided this post into several categories.

Collaboration apps

When working in a team it’s important to communicate clearly and quickly. These days teams aren’t bound to work at the office or within the confines of 9 to 5. Now teams can be spread across the world working in different time zones. This makes collaboration tools indispensable. At Cardwise there are two collaboration apps we use every day.

1. Socialcast

Socialcast is a social collaboration app designed for businesses. You can compare it to a Facebook for your company. Employees have access to the company stream; this is where status updates of colleagues appear. It’s ideal to keep everybody up to date on what you’re working on, and lowers the barriers between IT, Marketing, Sales, Support, … Everybody knows what’s going on in every department, making it easier to share ideas across the company.

Another cool feature is the ability to create private groups, where you can collaborate with certain colleagues when working on a project together. This way the company stream isn’t filled with project-based messages. You can even invite guests, such as clients, to become part of a group. You don’t have to wait until the next meeting to show your progress or to get feedback.

Available for web, Android, iOS
www.socialcast.com

2. Trello

Where Socialcast is used to spread the word about what you’re doing, or to share ideas and articles with colleagues, Trello is the place where the actual work gets organized.

In our development team we use several columns that assure that our weekly sprints are packed with improvements, bug fixes, new features, etc.  Based on the columns “Ideas” and “Wish list” we fill up the column “To dev”. When a card is in the column “To dev” the developers can choose the cards they would like to work on that week. In the activity stream you can easily follow what’s happening and what cards are finished (or ready to be tested).

Available for web, Android, iOS
www.trello.com

Organisation

If you’re like me you probably need some help to keep things organised, and I’m not talking about keeping things in the right place, but time management – knowing what you have to do and then actually doing it when you have to.

Keeping an agenda isn’t the solution for me; I’m just distracted easily and before I know it I have 27 browser windows open, scrolling back and forth from one to another without knowing what I was actually doing.

Then one day a colleague at BuboBox showed me how he managed that same problem. He uses a technique that’s called Pomodoro. The technique is quite simple: make yourself a to do list for the day. All tasks on the to-do list should be handled in sessions of 20 to 25 minutes. Each session is one Pomodoro. Between every Pomodoro you take a 3 to 5minute break. After 4 Pomodoros you can take a longer break, 15 to 25 minutes.

Working this way requires some dedication during the first days, but once you get the hang of it Pomodoro can really boost your productivity.

3. Focus Booster

Focus booster is a simple Pomodoro tool that counts your 25-minute cycles. It doesn’t allow you to create the to-do list in the app itself, but a simple Google Note or Excel sheet will do the work for you.

Available for web
www.focusboosterapp.com

Finance and accounting

Business administration causes severe headaches, and most of the time it gets postponed due to “more important” things. But this means that papers are pile up and at the end of the month I have to process all these things… The worst.

The thing I hate most about business administration is keeping track of all the expenses I make during the month. Some of them are paid in cash, others by card, some of them are related to a project, others not. And then there’s that little piece of paper you can’t lose. It’s not an invoice sent to you by mail, just a little receipt you get when you fill your car up with gasoline, or when you just had a business lunch. To tackle this problem there’s an app that digitizes and stores all your receipts.

4. Xpenditure

A picture with your mobile is enough to digitize your receipt and there are plenty apps capable of this, but the cool thing about Xpenditure is that the app reads out all data. This means you don’t have to type out your receipts anymore. You even have the possibility to add details such as project, category and payment method. Since I’ve begun using this app I never lost a receipt, I didn’t have to type an expense report in Excel and I can generate expense reports based on projects or categories in just a few clicks.

Another advantage is that you can send your expenses directly to your online accounting software. If you’re using FreeAgent, Freshbooks, QuickBooks or E-conomic, you can connect them to Xpenditure, if you’re using other software you can still use the CSV export.

Available for web, Android, iOS, Windows, Blackberry
www.xpenditure.com

Sales

One of the many things I’ve learned working with start-ups is how to streamline a sales pipeline. Leads come from different sources, and a lead can either be interesting or should just be ignored (at Cardwise this is our Hot or Not qualification).

When you’re having hundreds of signups for a trial every day, and several quote and demo requests, it’s important to focus on the right leads to get deals closed faster. Based on the source and qualification, an action needs to be triggered so the sales team knows what to do with all those contacts. The right CRM helps you to qualify the best leads and get more deals closed.

5. Zoho

Like any CRM it seems a daunting task to walk through the setup, because there are so many possibilities. When you first get started I recommend you to take a step back and analyse your sales flow before you start with the configuration of the CRM. Once done, the setup will be much easier, and Zoho provides excellent online support so you won’t get lost.

Once the setup is complete and all necessary connections and alerts are in place you will notice that selling your product is easier than ever before. Your sales team receives notifications whenever a hot lead is identified and based on the workflow; they exactly know what to do to get the deal closed.

Available for web, mobile web and several add-ons.
www.zoho.com