Lots of good apps out there but who has time to check ’em all out? We do! Here’s a handy curated list for problem solvers.
Need free process mapping software? Looking for a way to brainstorm on a digital whiteboard with your remote team? Need a digital Kanban Board to manage projects? How about an instant visual that tells you what time it is for colleagues and customers in other time zones? It’s all here! These are the apps we’ve tried out for you. Check if there’s anything here to make your life easier or your work more productive. Stay tuned for more app reviews on our podcast, The Just-in-Time Cafe, and tell us about apps that you like, we’d love to hear from you!
Animoto lets you take photos, video clips and music and turn them into slick looking video slideshows. You can easily add text and build stories into professional looking video presentations. The software is simple so there’s not much of a learning ramp up. It’s a great way to present project Storyboards, record Process (Gemba) Walks or capture team celebrations. There’s a free version, and then a few different paid subscription levels with advanced capabilities. It’s a great tool for making visuals come to life and for sharing team success.
Bitmoji lets people design their own personal emojis. Remote teams create expressive cartoon avatars to jazz up long-distance communications. Include evocative sayings with inventive graphics and choose from a huge library of stickers. It’s a great way to infuse personality into team interactions and build community. Let the bitmoji avatars give a “face” to your team and somehow work gets just a little easier!
This Chrome extension allows you to create a set of saved browser tabs that you can open all at once. If you have some recurring tasks that require access to certain Google documents, a select set of Trello cards or some key websites this is a great organizational technique. No time wasted searching and typing. You just pin the tabs you want saved as a set and then call them up instantaneously when you need them. Trendy timesaver!
Clockify is an integrated time tracker and timesheet app with a seamless interface that lets you and your team track work hours on projects. Determining how long tasks take is essential for improvement teams trying to reduce Lead Time. It also helps employees figure out how long standard tasks take so they can better manage their time. It helps freelancers track and bill for their time and it helps organizations with attendance monitoring and payroll management. It’s easy to start and stop the clock on specific tasks, filter the display and run reports based on work done for specific clients. Clockify is the only 100% free, cloud-hosted time tracking software and it allows unlimited users. The price is right!
Divvy is an entirely new way of managing your workspace. It allows you to quickly and efficiently “divvy up” your screen into exact portions. With Divvy, it’s as simple as a single click and drag in the Divvy interface and your window will be resized and moved to a relative portion of the screen. If that seems like too much work, you can go ahead and create as many different shortcuts as you’d like that resize and move your windows.
Working with a cross-country or pan-global team? Don’t want to wake up your colleagues in Oahu to let them know you’re dealing with Northeaster in Maine? Not sure what time it is in Phoenix since Arizona doesn’t use Daylight Savings Time? Time zones can be problematic – and FIO alleviates those woes. Figure it Out (FIO) is a visually stimulating Chrome extension to solve your timezone pain.
Most people associate GoPro cameras with underwater photography – and they’re great for that. It is definitely a perfect camera for outdoorsy people who want to capture every moment, and… it’s a great way find out what goes on in a process! GoPro provides a chest harness and a head strap so you can use it hands-free. You can record processes in action and then capture timings and movement from the recording. Use it to document changeovers, Process Walks and other process improvement techniques. Get to know your process with 4K resolution!
The problem with “To Do” lists is that they concentrate on what hasn’t been completed yet. What about all the stuff we got done? This app helps if you want a happier and more productive team. I Done This makes it really easy for your team to provide quick daily status updates by encouraging others to focus on what’s been completed. This makes it really easy for you to use that data to run teams more effectively and more positively.
Excel is a powerful all purpose spreadsheet tool, but managing workbooks and tabs can become cumbersome as projects and content grow. Some people have a knack for creating their own macros to speed up the process but that takes time too. Enter Kutools, the Excel add-on that provides over 200 built in Macros so you don’t have to spend time cutting, pasting, formatting and other time-consuming Excel activities. It lets you do things like merge cells, combine sheets, count cells by color and create batch jobs. It’s $39 but you can get volume discount licenses. It’s a cool tool!
Need to take those post-its on the wall and turn them into a sharable, digital process map? Don’t have the budget for Visio (or a PC to support it)? There’s a handy, free, tool that provides templates, tools, tutorials and easy ways for teams to share their process maps. LucidChart works on both PCs and Macs and there’s nice “viewer” for those who have not downloaded the app. Not bad!
Minitab is often referred to as the gold standard for statistical software packages and there are good reasons for that. It’s got an easy to use interface, it’s written from an everyday-user’s perspective so you don’t have to be a Six Sigma Black Belt to use it. It includes “advanced” statistical and “intermediate” level tools along with charts and graphs like Histograms, Pareto Charts, Control Charts, etc. There is statistical analysis advice, a YouTube channel and help materials including a Quality Trainer which includes online tutorials and webinars.
One drawback is that it’s PC-only. There is a Mac-friendly “Express” version for $49.99/year but it lacks Continuous Improvement essentials such as the Pareto Chart. It currently costs $1,495.00 for a one-time user license, which is expensive, and it requires users to pass information in a compatible format (Minitab 16 users cannot open files in Minitab 17 format) but it’s worth it for those who require its powerful tools and resources. They are constantly upgrading and improving the software so for those with the budget, it’s a great option.
Mural is a visual collaboration tool that allows remote teams to brainstorm, synthesize, and collaborate from any online-device. It allows users to aggregate links and other web content and displays them in a customizable space that resembles a physical bulletin board or wall.
Notability is a “Juggernaut” – which is something powerful and generally large. You don’t really think of an app as “large” but this one is definitely powerful and BIG in terms of ability. It’s a note-taking app that integrates the ability to take notes, photos, and interviews, insert audio and video and then export them later. You can import from multiple sources, such as DropBox, Google Drive, OneDrive. Great for Process Walks and “before” documentation prior to 5Sing a workspace. Notability has the distinction of being ranked #1 among paid Apple Apps and at $9.99 it’s no surprise!
This is an app that “Leans Out” podcasts. It treats silences as the Waste of Waiting – waiting for the next word. It streamlines dialogue and then speeds up the tempo. Not enough to sound like Mickey Mouse, but podcasts flow faster. It also boosts the volume of softer voices without making the loud ones louder. Just queue your podcasts through Overcast, a powerful yet simple podcast player for iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch.
This one is fun, useful and it looks really slick. You can use this during Process Walks, you can capture the “As Is” state of a workspace before a 5S. Paper is a great way to capture and connect your notes, photos, and sketches. Create checklists, spotlight details in photos, and sketch diagrams with unbeatable speed and ease — Paper is like a wall of sticky notes for everything you want to capture but you don’t need the wall!
This app is the antidote to “Death by Powerpoint.” It may not be a venue for your Storyboard, but it could be a way to introduce a topic, a process change, the look of things to come, or anything that needs a dose of energy, pizazz – when you want to create some buzz. Prezi lets you zoom in and out of a big single canvas, first focusing in on a block of text or a set of images or videos, and then flying across the canvas to other text or images. You can also zoom out to see the entire canvas, or zoom in to see any detail. You can collaborate with others using a built-in texting feature. It works on cell phones and tablets. A cool aspect of the Premium version is that it’s got analytics so you can track viewers, where they lingered or where they dropped off so you fine-tune the content. If you are looking a new way to present, this is it!
Did your improvement effort result in a new process steps? Did you create a checklist to make sure everyone does things the same way? Process Street provides a simple, free and powerful way to manage your team’s recurring checklists and procedures. Create process templates, run multiple instances of the templates as checklists, track progress and collaborate with your team!
QIMacros is a statistical software package that is an Excel add-on. The learning curve is low and once installed it provides a new menu embedded with a full suite of charts, graphs, calculators, statistical tests, templates and data manipulation options. You get the standards like Box Plots, Scatter Plots, Histograms, etc. but there are lots more templates and options that may not be familiar to Continuous Improvement professionals.
It’s easy to create charts and run tests but users might get overwhelmed with the sheer number and stacks of menu items. It has a Stat Wizard and a Control Chart Wizard with the goal of selecting the right Hypothesis Test or Control Chart based on the column(s) of data selected. It has a nice, simple tutorials, lots of FAQs and you can sign up to receive free tips. It costs $279 for a perpetual license. There are no annual fees and no charge for tech support. It’s a nice easy-to-use package that is constantly being upgraded and improved.
Did you know that quizzing yourself makes you smarter? Did you know retention and recall improve when you use flashcards to test your knowledge after training? The Quizlet app removes the need for the flashcards and, once you load it, can quiz you using multiple testing techniques. Make sure your Green Belt training sticks by using our ready-made quizzes. And make your own since Quizlet lets you study anything!
Did you know you had a scanner on your phone? Did you know you could point your phone at a document and have it scan it, turn it into a pdf and have it ready for you to mail? The Scannable app is a big time-saver and it is way better than we are at centering and capturing images. Great for capturing applications after signing them, creating pdfs for colleagues and, of course, getting copies of receipts. No need to save all that paper!. Whether on the go or at the office, send paper on its way and move on.
SigmaXL is a statistical software package that is an Excel add-on. The bonus for Process Improvement professionals familiar with Excel is there’s no learning curve. Once installed, it provides an additional menu which opens up to a suite of options dedicated to charting, graphing, statistical tests and data manipulation. You can create Histograms, Pareto Charts and Control Charts by highlighting a column of numbers and selecting the chart option. It also provides things like Sample Size Calculators, MSA, DOE, and it comes with templates like SIPOCs, Project Charters, Value Stream Maps and Fishbone Diagrams.
It’s easy and to use, there are lots of how-to videos and they are very responsive if you email them with questions. There is a 30-Day free trial and a perpetual license retails for $299. They are continually upgrading and improving the software. Good, affordable option!
Need a way to keep a remote Project Team connected? Need to separate work texts from friends and family (not that your project team isn’t full of friends). Slack makes team communication and collaboration easy by bringing it all into one place so the team gets more work done. You can even create sub-teams and call them right from Slack. Check off your to-do list and move your projects forward by bringing the right people, conversations, tools, and information you need together.
Tired of the usual PowerPoint look? Need some new graphics? SlideModel helps subscribers, individuals and businesses to create great looking presentation decks with little effort. You don’t need design skills to create a great Green Belt Storyboard. For an adjustable fee or a through subscription, Slide Model provides instant access to high quality professional presentation templates that can be easily downloaded and edited.
Polling employees is a great way to learn what’s really happening in an organization. Employees know where the problems are and they often have great ways to solve them. But you don’t get access to this team of problem solvers if people don’t speak up. Suggestion Ox is the anonymous online suggestion box that gives you information you can act on immediately. 100% web-based and completely private. Get truly candid feedback from your employees, process improvement teams or customers and surface issues before they become problems.
Where’s that post-it note with my “how to” notes? Why am I the only one who does this? Sweet Process provides an easy way to nail down how exactly each task gets done and provides instant access – and reminders. Get those repetitive tasks out of your head and documented, so you’re not stuck doing everything yourself, or wondering how exactly you did them! Whether you manage a team or you’re hiring your first employee, SweetProcess gives you the systemization you need to scale and grow your business.
Toby is a Google Chrome extension—free of course—that lets you create and store sets of browser tabs. Clicking on a pre-made set instantly opens a suite of sites depending on your task at hand. It allows you to organize your browser tabs which is great for people collaborating on tasks involving multiple links and documents. Toby makes it easy to switch between tasks which involves clicking one button to open a new browser tab set. To create a set, you drag all the tabs you need for a task into the open space. It’s a visual workspace where opening a new tab lets you see all available tab sets—yours and, when you want them, those shared by others. What makes it different from apps like Pinned Tabs is that you can share your tab sets with co-workers. You could also use it to batch sites you’d like to check out when you’ve got time—and then share those too! Great app, easy to use…and share.
Toggl is a free time-tracking app. In most businesses, it’s helpful to figure out how long tasks take in order to estimate and schedule more effectively. Freelancers can use it to track billable time and in the process improvement world, this is a good way to get process time metrics. You can track time by project, team, workspace, client, task, and you can add tags. Toggl is currently the #1 time tracking tool on Google with 70,000 users and growing. It has a secure Google iCloud platform, meets many ISO security standards and it supports a long list of productivity apps like Osana, Slack, Trello and Google Drive.
Edison said, genius is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. But how do you manage that 90%? The TomatoTimer, based on the Pomodoro Technique helps you concentrate brain power in deliberate bursts with carefully placed breaks. Managing the perspiration actually leads to more inspiration. The Pomodoro Technique is a time management technique created by Francesco Cirillo for a more productive way to work and study.
Trello is a remarkably intuitive app that enables team collaboration. Based on the simple “To Do, Doing, Done” lists of a Kanban Board, Trello uses visual management to let you manage tasks, projects or the whole organization. Set deadlines, create checklists and freely communicate with your team members within the boards. Trello’s boards, lists, and cards enable you to organize and prioritize your projects in a fun, flexible and rewarding way.
Voxer allows “instant voice.” It can turn your iPhone into a Walkie-Talkie or just a push-button voicemail recorder. It lets you add pictures and video and it’s free! If you upgrade to the $3.99/month version you’ll also enjoy voice-to-text transcription, broadcast chats and a few other frills. There’s also a $9.95/month version but the free app packs in the features too. Great for remote teams. Great for fast, free communication!
WeTransfer is a free website and mobile app that allows you to transfer large files. What’s different from apps like DropBox is the simplicity. The free version lets you transfer up to 2 GBs of data and there’s a $12/month subscription version that allows you to transfer file up to 20 GBs in size. The free version requires nothing but the email you’re sending to and the email you’re sending from. It alerts you when the file’s been sent and it lets you know when the files have been downloaded by the receiver. All files are deleted in 7 days which is a space saver. There’s no encryption option, and no password for the free version, but it is simple and easy to use so if you don’t need those then it’s a great option!
WhatsApp is a free message app for the whole world. Over 800 million smartphone users use it to chat with each other securely over wifi. It’s user friendly and encrypted so your user information is safe. You don’t need an account, just your phone number. It’s great for long-distance teams who want to send photos, audio, video or simple PowerPoint files to each other. It’s mainly a messaging app but it supports voice so you can use it for phone calls as well. Did we mention it was free?!
Zoom is a web conferencing and webinar software with a lot of functionality. You can use it for virtual collaboration, online demos and online trainings. It’s also great for recording podcasts and other events. You can conduct high quality video conferencing for both hosts and participants with up to 500 video participants with video breakout rooms. One of the features that elevates it above some other applications is the ability to schedule meetings using iCal or Microsoft Outlook – quick and convenient. Both telephone conference and VoIP service are frictionless to participants which is the goal! Watch out for the “attention indicator” – you may not want to know who’s texting while you’re talking! Good for PC, Mac, iOS, Android and BlackBerry.