5 New Productivity Apps to Boost Your Next Design Sprint
It’s that time again. Your dev team is about to head into another design sprint, otherwise known as a five-day, coffee-fueled prototyping blitz. Orchestrating setup, testing, and validation analysis requires a lot of moving parts. Keeping track of everything can put you and your team over the edge if you don’t have a good system. That’s why we’ve done the digging to find the productivity-supporting apps that will do the heavy lifting for you.
Wrike boasts the ability to work within an agile framework or waterfall process, and it looks like they can deliver. Wrike provides different project management solutions depending on the team type, so that marketers, creatives, and project managers can all find solutions to their problems.
- Pros: For developers and design-focused folk, Wrike offers file management and live editing capabilities. Users can upload or link to documents for a project and track versions so everyone is working in harmony. Resource management monitors team workloads to make pivoting direction easy; timeline adjustments can be made on the Timeline feature which functions like a Gantt chart. Integrations with apps like Dropbox and Adobe Creative Cloud make this a designer’s dream.
- Cons: The interface is not as intuitive as users would like and pricing isn’t as low as some of its competitors — it comes in at $24.80/ month for business up to 200 users. Larger companies require custom quotes.
During a sprint, tracking time spent on tasks comes at the bottom of the priority list. Unfortunately, that’s not an excuse clients want to hear. That’s why Toggl boasts “sexy reports and transparent billing.” For data nerds, the dashboard provides breakdowns of time spent by task and category.
- Pros: Teams can create an unlimited number of projects for an unlimited number of clients, for free. Toggl integrates with taskmasters like Asana, Trello, and others, plus it tracks time offline to sync later. Exported timesheets and email productivity reports are sent to interested parties (AKA clients, bosses, and possibly your mother). The dashboard overview makes it easy to monitor which parts of projects are time sucks, so you can re-calibrate. Subtasks and iCal integration are added benefits (for Pro subscribers).
- Cons: The desktop version can be slow to load. Users need to remember to update the date on the time tracker, otherwise, entries can be slotted under the previous day.
3. Remember the Milk (RTM)
Remember the Milk (RTM) has been around for a while, but the task manager got a makeover in February 2016 and relaunched. According to their mascot, Bob T. Monkey (Chief Code Monkey), the updates are pretty sweet. And we’d have to agree. You’ll go bananas, in a good way.
- Pros: RTM integrates with Gmail, Google Calendar, and Evernote for a seamless project overview. Task assignments sync seamlessly between desktop and mobile; plus, you can get reminders via emails, texts, IMs, and carrier pigeons. Advanced search is available for those who have too many tags, projects, and team lists to count.There are also subtask options and subtasks of subtasks which can have their own priorities and deadlines. So meta.
- Con: The Pro version costs $39.99 a year, and that’s where a lot of the prominent features are nestled, such as advanced sorting for tasks, syncing with Microsoft Outlook, and unlimited archiving of completed tasks, which is useful for reviewing past projects.
Weekplan‘s purpose is all in the name. It helps teams plan out and prioritize projects using a weekly planner as a template. Sprint Masters won’t need to invent their mapping system from scratch; save those neurons for the big stuff.
- Pros: Weekplan helps teams prioritize and get granular with assigning goals and visualizing priorities, whether that’s by using the weekly overview, segmenting goals by responsibility, or even using the Eisenhower quadrant or matrix. There’s also a journal feature so teams can record what went well within a project or week and what needs some improvement. It’s all about iteration, folks.
- Cons: This app is run by the developer and three full-time employees and has been chugging along since 2010. While it has good reviews, customer service response time could be lacking, due to the small team. Also, subtasks and repeating tasks are in the “ultimate” paid plan, which is a bummer if you want to replicate past projects.
If you feel like Slack has changed your life and anyone who wants to get rid of it will have to pry it from your computer, we get it. But take a moment to look at Fleep before you shake your head in scorn.
- Pros: Fleep integrates audio-video calling with Google Hangouts, which is perfect for user-testing videos, stakeholder check-ins, and any sort of observation. Fleep also has an API which allows developers to make it even more relevant and customized to their own team’s needs. The pinboard is perfect for teams to put up important messages, dates, GIFs, links, and anything else that needs to be shared widely. Team members can easily edit and provide their own feedback.
- Cons: None here to speak of!
Go Forth and Sprint
No matter what productivity app you use, the app can only get you so far — after that, your own go-getter, just-do-it spirit will have to kick in. For that, we’ve got the ultimate recommendation: a large mug of coffee.
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