The Daily App: Flow -- Collaboration Made Easy
More people than ever telecommute and work remotely. It can get messy, but apps can help keep those loose ends from fraying.
If you're like half the U.S. workforce, you work at a job suitable for either full-time or part-time telecommuting, according to a Cisco survey. But the problem with remote work -- besides no free office coffee -- is how to stay coordinated.
Crucial tasks become lost in tangles of e-mails, chat sessions and to-do lists, so the software you use to stay on the same page becomes crucial, and few solutions are as jam-packed or agile as Flow, which combines apps, social media-style features and traditional Web and e-mail tools to speed along modern workplaces.
What's the App?
Flow is a suite of tools that manage projects, tasks and workflow among a team, helping all members stay productive, connected and in-sync with one another regardless of their location. There's a Web tool as well as an iOS and Mac app, all of which work with one another.
No matter what tool you use, you can easily create new projects and tasks, give them a due date, assign them to a team member and add notes, files and other information, such as pictures, video and text. You can tag tasks to group them under labels, invite team members to view and edit them, and even e-mail them to others. As you add more tasks, you can sort them into folders and projects to stay organized, and flag anything important to capture your team's attention.
The app integrates e-mail nicely into the workflow, too: you can reply directly to e-mails sent from Flow, which will add more files and info to the item. You can even e-mail tasks to the app, which will add them to the list.
That's on par compared to other productivity and task management software, but Flow stands out by how it integrates social media-style features. For example, an Activity Feed gives an at-a-glance view of your project's progress, showing tasks team members have completed or are working on. You can also "follow" tasks and lists to keep in the loop of items not assigned. The app creates social networks around projects, keeping a continuous stream to organizes you.
You'll Want It If...
You need a strong set of tools to coordinate and arrangement tasks for different communication and productivity styles.
Overall, Flow's Web and app components work well together. If you're hoping to work with an app-only tool, however, you'll be disappointed -- the app requires you to sign up for a Web account to use it. Youcan only perform higher-level tasks through the Web browser, such as rename or archive lists and projects.
The Web software and app are cleanly designed, and you can jump right into Flow with its streamlined interfaces. Having both to use makes it easy to track and adjust lists and tasks no matter where you are. But with that many features, it takes a while to learn the shortcuts and navigation, especially on the compact iOS version. And features standard in similar apps, like alerts, are missing.
It's Not My Thing -- What Else Ya Got?
Flow is great on many levels -- its two version inferface and social media-like features. But you'll pay a pretty penny for that convenience -- after a free 14-day trial, it costs $10 a month to subscribe.
If you don't need a complex app WorkFlowy is a cheaper solution. It still makes lists, and you can add tags and hashtags to items and group, organize and e-mail them, or create public lists that others can edit and view.
Many people also use Evernote to organize projects. The app can play a valuable role in sharing assets, files and data, but it doesn't have management tools, like priorities and due dates.
One of the best competitors, though, is Trello. The app garnered a following for its clean, elegant card-based interface and its easy-to-use features. It lets you assign tasks, collaborate in real-time, gather data and opinions and pings you with notifications to keep track of your projects' progress.
The app is free, but you won't get Flow's deep e-mail integration. The apps are cramped too, so you'll lose the convenient layout of the bulletin board. Still, it's a fine alternative if you're looking for a solution to the evolving mobile workplace.
Categories: Productivity | The Daily App