An overload of vertical tools are dragging down our productivity at work.
A lot of the tools and apps we use at work today are “vertical” — they meet specific needs for specific types of teams. Think of a marketing automation platform for a marketing team, for example, or a bug tracking software for an engineering team. Chances are, the engineering team doesn’t find the marketing automation tool all that useful. Likewise, the marketing team doesn’t find the bug tracker particularly handy, either.
The value of these tools is limited to the team who uses it. And as your business grows and uses more and more of these vertical tools, their value decreases:
They’re not collaborative. You can’t quickly grab an opinion or feedback from someone who doesn’t use the tool. Those who don’t have licenses or logins can’t participate or get value from the tools.
Information is siloed. The data in each tool is limited to the teammates who use it (or the licenses you’re willing to pay for). As teams grow, there are more and more miscommunications caused by information that not everyone can access.
That’s why the tools teams need now are horizontal. Horizontal productivity tools are designed to connect teams and help them work together better:
They make it easy for teams to work together: Horizontal tools let you communicate across departments, to fit the increasingly collaborative way we work today. They make teamwork easy between Marketing and Operations, or Support and Product, or among all the above.
They link together all the tools you depend on: Instead of wasting time sifting through various apps, chat messages, or emails to find that one important nugget of information, horizontal productivity tools make information easy to find. They unify information across apps, so it’s accessible to the entire team.
They’re customizable to fit your team’s ideal workflows: Horizontal tools are designed with the realization that every team is unique, so every team works a little differently.
6 productivity tools your team really needs
These tools allow you to build on top of them, so you can work the way you want to.
Boosts productivity: With Airtable, teams can interact, manipulate, and build on data of any kind in real-time. Airtable’s spreadsheet tool makes it easy for anyone to manipulate and organize data, instead of limiting that power to those who know the ins and outs of Excel. You can filter, sort, and display information in any format: a traditional spreadsheet, timeline, gallery, kanban, or calendar view.
Connects with other tools: Integrates with all your essential apps, like Asana, Dropbox, Google Drive, Slack, and more, to pull that critical information into records
Customizable: Access custom API documentation to read, update, and destroy records and build ideal spreadsheets and workflows for your team
How it boosts productivity:Asana makes it easy for your team to work together across teams and time zones. Their project management platform lays out every task and milestone for every teammate, so everyone feels confident about what needs to get done, who’s responsible for what, and when it’s due. Using Lists, Boards, Calendars, and Timelines, teams can easily delegate tasks, stay on track, and accomplish great things on time.
Connects with other tools: Integrates with all your essential apps, like Salesforce, Dropbox, Google Drive, Slack, and more to pull that information into your project plans
Customizable: Customize your workflows, automate repetitive tasks or recurring projects, and add your own features on top of Asana with their API
Boosts productivity:Front is a modern inbox built specifically for productivity and collaboration. Front brings all your communication channels into one inbox, so you can manage messages from email, SMS, live chat, social media, and more, from one place. You can easily assign emails to teammates so there’s no confusion around who’s answered what (no more reply-all woes!) You can also collaborate with internal-only comments directly on messages, share and edit message drafts in real time, and use custom automations to work faster.
Connects with other tools:Integrates with all your essential apps, like Salesforce, Google Drive, JIRA, and 40+ more tools, so you can access all that information directly next to your messages
Boosts productivity: Ideal for visual learners, Trello helps teams organize their projects on a virtual bulletin board with cards and lists. Give anyone from any team access to a Trello board, so they can view, edit, and track projects from beginning to end. You can also create public views to display projects and gather feedback. (For example, at Front, we use Trello to manage emails for Good Email Copy emails: our set of well-worded customer email examples, and our Public Product Roadmap where customers leave feedback and upvote potential features.)
Connects with other tools: Integrates with all your essential apps, like Google Drive, Slack, JIRA, and more, to visualize that information on your Trello boards
Customizable: Visualize anything or connect any app by building on top of Trello with the Trello API
Boosts productivity:Zapier is built specifically to connect all your tools and information. Zapier’s “zaps” allow teams to set triggers and complete routine tasks automatically, so you can focus on getting work done. No matter what team you’re on or where you’re working from, you can access any data you need automatically, directly in the app where you need it.
Connects with other tools: Connects more than 1,000 web apps and tools so you can connect your workflows and automate tasks
Customizable: Create custom zaps based off of Zap Templates or use their free developer platform to build exactly what your team needs
Boosts productivity:Proofhub is a project planning tool that connects your team, your calendar, and your projects all in one place. It's great for collaborating across teams. Visualize projects by creating kanban boards or Gantt charts, give ownership by assigning teammates to tasks, and more.
Connects with other tools: Connects with Google products, Outlook, Dropbox, Freshbooks, Quickbooks, and OneDrive
Customizable: Build custom reusable workflows to kep projects moving along and involve the right teammates every time
The best productivity tools bring your team together
With a quick Google search, you can find an “ultimate list” of apps and tools for almost anything: the top email productivity software, ultimate marketing productivity tools, best developer productivity apps, best productivity tools for startups...the list goes on. While these tools can be useful, their ROI is limited to the direct team who uses it. With the powerful team productivity tools above, however, you can make better use of the apps your company has already invested in. You can share knowledge and information across teams in your business, build workflows around your team (not your tools’ limitations), and harness the power of teamwork.
Written by Julie Morse
Originally Published: 17 April 2020