Collaboration and productivity are considered high priorities in today’s workplace. With so many mobile apps available to support conducting business on-the-go, we are able to work and connect with others from virtually any place that has web access. There are also apps that help you to be more productive from your office desktop, as well. But, how to choose the right app for the right purpose can be difficult and time-consuming.
In this article, I hope to give you a sense of which apps are considered useful for most business people. While this is by no means a definitive list, it includes several apps that I recommend based on personal use, what I have read and what others have shared with me. Realizing that individual needs differ depending on your job, I urge you to give them a try and see what suits you. Simply download them from the Apple App Store for iPhones or iPads, or Google Play App Store for Android devices.
Dropbox and OneDrive: Cloud storage apps
Probably the most valuable single app that everyone can use is some sort of file storage in the Cloud, the most popular ones being Dropbox and OneDrive (although there are many more options). In addition to storage, these apps offer file sharing capabilities to enhance collaboration with colleagues. I happen to like OneDrive better. A distinct advantage is the 5 GB of free data storage that you get with OneDrive versus 2 GB with Dropbox. Both of them, however, offer these cool features: document scanning with autocropping, and file download to your phone (for use offline). OneDrive also has advanced scanning features, allowing you to scan a whiteboard and business cards using your phone. The two apps are highly rated, so this choice may just be a matter of personal preference. You can search “Dropbox vs. OneDrive” to access comparison charts, articles and videos to help make a decision on the best one for your needs.
OneNote: A digital notebook
This is a very helpful Microsoft app for taking notes in business meetings, at conferences, during a phone call, when making a task list, etc. These electronic notes can be entered on your phone or computer, saved locally, and then are automatically synced between devices for convenient dual access anytime, anywhere. If using a tablet, you can even hand-write notes on your screen, and OneNote will convert your handwriting into typed text. OneNote goes hand-in-hand with OneDrive, delivering seamless synchronization across the two apps. Click to read more.
Drawboard: PDF mark-up app
This app is a nice productivity tool that makes it easy to annotate (edit/mark up) PDF files via a tablet or computer, bypassing traditional redlining of hard copy documents. It enables you to add comments by drawing or writing them on the electronic page, and then simply email the file containing your comments to another person. Accountants find this especially useful, as they often deal with client financial statements and typically receive copies to review in PDF format. Using Drawboard makes it easy to mark up the report or statement, and send it back with questions, remarks and/or suggested edits. Collaboration was never this simple. Click to read more.
RescueTime: Time management app
This is another productivity app that actually tracks your productive versus non-productive time, based on pre-defined measures while working on your computer. For example, RescueTime tracks how much time you are spending in certain software applications, surfing the Internet, etc., essentially letting you know how productive your day was (and how much time you wasted). This is done by looking at where you go on your computer, allocating time to broad categories (top 3 most productive and top 3 least productive). A built-in dashboard lets you view the results of this analysis. While mostly used as a desktop tool, there is also a mobile app for Androids. Click to read more.
Expensify: Business expense tracking app
This app is well worth checking out if your company doesn’t have a way to submit business expenses online for reimbursement or approval. Gone are the days when you need to make physical copies of receipts and attach them to hardcopy expense reports. Now, based on pictures of your receipts taken via cell phone, an expense report is automatically generated for you. Then, it’s just a matter of emailing it to your manager or accounting department. This is very useful to keep track of business trip expenditures, working lunches, or any other reimbursable expense. Click to read more.
Built-in electronic signature/approval via iPhone email app
It’s surprising how many people are not aware that the built-in email app on iPhone and iPad offers a tool for signing and returning documents from your smartphone or tablet. For example, if you have received a PDF document via email that needs a signature, simply open the attachment on your phone, tap the Edit button, and then add a signature that you sign with your finger. Place the signature on the document, and tap Done. The document is automatically inserted into a new email to send back to the original person. So much better than printing, signing, scanning and emailing back.
Video conferencing apps
Regardless of the type of work you do, it’s a good idea to have a video conferencing app on your phone or PC, such as Skype, GoToMeeting, Zoom or join.me, to name a few. Your company may have a preferred app; if not, you’re on your own to select the one you like. Sometimes, even more useful than the video conferencing features of these apps, is the ability to share your screen with meeting participants, and even let them take control of your mouse or keyboard.
Word & Excel apps on your phone
A definite nice-to-have! Installing Word and Excel mobile apps on your phone come in handy in case you need to make edits to documents and/or spreadsheets when away from the office. It’s particularly a good travel companion when you don’t plan to take a laptop with you. These Microsoft apps work on iOS and Android devices.
Food delivery apps
If you find yourself working late (or through lunch) and needing food delivered, there are various apps to make life easier. Some common ones are DoorDash, GrubHub, UberEats, and Amazon Restaurants. Great meals are just a click away!
In summary, you may opt to have any number of these apps in your arsenal to be more productive and save valuable time with mobile conveniences…from video conferencing to time management to food delivery. So, join the app world—you’ll be glad you did!