Productivity Software in a World of SaaS Based Solutions
At its very core, productivity is the effectiveness at which your employees do their job. The more productive your employees are, the more efficient your business tends to be. However, measuring productivity and figuring out ways to improve productivity have always been challenges, especially as business operations have grown more complex over the years. It's why many companies implement SaaS-based productivity software solutions that not only help to improve productivity, but that also allows you to assess the efficiency of your employees, in turn making it easier to identify problem areas that need to be addressed.
What Specifically Do We Mean by Productivity Software?
Productivity software refers to any type of program that provides documents, graphs, databases, and/or spreadsheets that can improve the efficiency of your employees by either tracking the use of time or the completion of tasks.
Software Which Allows You to Track Time
Time tracking tools will allow you to see how much time your employees are spending on the tasks or projects they should be working on as well as where they are wasting time (such as on non-work related websites). Reporting features give you daily or weekly breakdowns of the time spent on different applications, websites, tasks, and more.
Software Which Allows You to Track Projects and Tasks
Project management tools allow you to set up large projects along with deadlines for those projects. You can then delegate different tasks to different team members within those projects. A good project management tool will allow you to see who is responsible for what on the project and what tasks have been completed.
Core Functionality Expected from Time Based Productivity Software
A good time tracking software will allow you to see exactly how each member of your team is spending their time so you can measure their productivity. The following are a few of the more specific features that you should look for in a time tracking tool.
Historic Records Showing Where Time Was Spent
A good time tracking tool will allow you to record the amount of time employees spent on specific tasks, including both work-related and non-work related apps or web pages so that you can identify inefficiencies in their time management. Most tools will provide daily or weekly reports of each employee's use of time.
Live Time Allocation and Recording of Time
Effective time tracking software will begin recording the time spent on a specific application or document as a team member is working on it in real time, and stop the moment they move to something else. The time spent on the project will be added up over the day so that you can see exactly how much time your employee spent on the task they were assigned.
Forecasting and Allowing for Time in the Future
By tracking how much time it takes to perform certain tasks, you'll have a much better idea of how long those tasks take to complete, which will allow you to schedule deadlines more effectively. For example, if you gave an employee a task to do by the end of the day and you find that they were able to complete it within only an hour, then you know that you don't need to give them an entire day to do that task in the future.
The Capability to Track Time Across Multiple Users and Organizations
There are plenty of time management tools for individual use that not only track time spent on certain tasks but that provide alerts for when too much time has been spent on non-work related tasks. However, most businesses will want to implement time management software that allows them to track the productivity of entire teams and departments. Time management software programs that do this generally allow you to look at the time reports of multiple users and organizations on an individual basis as well as in comparison to one another in an easy-to-read manner.
Core Functionality Expected from Project or Task Based Productivity Software
Project management software should allow you to oversee entire projects by allowing you to track the responsibilities and progress of individual team members. The following are some of the core features that most project or task-based productivity software should have.
Organization of a Project into Tiers of Responsibility
You should be able to set up what each team member of a project is responsible for. Not only will this make it easier to determine who is responsible for what task, but it provides transparency throughout the team so that each member knows who to turn to for assistance in certain facets of the project.
Allocation of Tasks and Projects Across a Wide User Base
Besides general responsibilities, you should also be able to allocate different team members to different tasks or even projects across the entire department or organization. This will allow you as well as your employees to see who is working on what project and who is responsible for specific tasks throughout the completion of each project.
Tracking of Project and Task Completion
Project management tools will also allow you to create timelines and set deadlines for projects as well as tasks that need to be completed within those projects. You can then track whether those tasks are being completed in a timely fashion and whether anyone is lagging behind in their work. This also allows other employees to see who is working on what, keeping everyone on the same page and encouraging more effective collaboration.
How Has the Rise of the SaaS Ecosystem Affected Productivity Software?
Businesses throughout the world are switching from traditional productivity software (hard copy software programs downloaded directly from a CD onto a computer system) to SaaS (software as a service). SaaS is software delivered through the cloud, eliminating hard copies. The following are some of the major reasons why so many businesses are switching to SaaS productivity software.
Greater Levels of Access Across Multiple Devices
Because SaaS software is hosted in the cloud, it means you can access it from any device as long as you have Internet access. This means you can use your productivity software on any computer, tablet or even smartphone, making it particularly useful if you or any of your team members are on the road. Traditional productivity software will be limited to the system you downloaded it on.
A Significant Increase in Available Functionality
SaaS productivity software will already be installed and configured, easing the process of onboarding new employees to your team since individual new software is not necessary. Not only does this make it easier to use, but less maintenance is required.
Functionality is improved in many other ways as well. SaaS software allows for easier collaboration, more automation, and more scalability. Finally, non-resident software saves a significant amount of space on your hardware, helping to ensure it continues to run smoothly.
Vendors Must Compete to Create Functionality That Beats Their Opposition
The software providers are constantly updating the software to add functionality and reduce vulnerabilities, encouraged by the strength of their competition. It's generally more affordable for providers to provide software through the cloud since they don't need to manufacture hard copies to sell, which creates more competition.
Additionally, because SaaS is a subscription service, it can be canceled. This means vendors have to make an effort to keep their software up-to-date since customers can easily switch over to a different software if it's not meeting their needs.
A Shift Towards Subscription Models instead of Buying Software Outright
Subscription models are actually more cost-effective for most companies. With traditional software programs you have to buy new copies every time you hire new employees, and updating to newer versions on a regular basis. Also, with SaaS you save the expense of a lifetime license.
With SaaS, you are paying for the software through a monthly or yearly subscription. This subscription includes the cost of storage, database, and administration costs. The provider will update the software for you whenever new features become available. Because it's hosted on the cloud, scalability becomes much easier and more cost-effective as well.It also makes it much easier to budget since you'll know exactly how much you're spending on your productivity software even when scaling.
Increased Ability for Software Products to ‘Talk to One Another’ Using API’s
Vendors want you to stick with their software solution since they're being paid on a subscription basis, so they go to great lengths to make their software as easy to integrate into your business as possible. One way they achieve this is by creating APIs that allow their productivity software to connect with internal applications, such as CRMs and ERPs, as well as with other SaaS providers. This makes it easier to track employee productivity across your company’s applications.
Additional Functionality Seen in SaaS Versions of Productivity Software
By using an SaaS productivity software solution instead of a traditional software package, you'll be able to take advantage of added functionality.
Time Tracking Software Can Now Offer You So Much More
The following are some of the features that SaaS time tracking solutions can provide:
1. Provide Employee Monitoring Features Such as Keystroke & Mouse Activity
With traditional time tracking software packages, employees could potentially trick the system by remaining in an application and simply goofing off on their phones. This way, the program would be fooled into thinking time was being logged into the application needed to complete the assigned task. Even with a screenshot feature, you would think that employee was working on the tasks they're responsible for if that application was open on their computer.
With keystroke and mouse activity features you can track whether or not employees are typing or using their cursor regularly. If both are idle for long periods of time, you can tell that the application isn't being used even though it's open.
2. Single Click on Demand Reports and Dashboards
Instead of having to wait for reports to be generated to determine if your team members are staying on task or whether there are any productivity inefficiencies, you can check in real time using on-demand reports and dashboards.
3. Integrations with Invoicing Platforms
The bigger your projects are, the more expenses you will need to document. The ability to integrate your time tracking tools with your invoicing platform will make it easier to track your expenses and stick to your budget. Additionally, if you are working with multiple customers you'll need to enable time billing and invoicing to track the time your team has spent working on specific tasks.
4. The Market Will Keep Rushing to Provide More
Competition helps to drive innovation, and since SaaS providers are under a lot of pressure to keep their clients subscribed as a result of strong competition within the market, you can expect more and more functionality to be added to your SaaS time tracking solutions.
Project Management Software Can Now Offer You So Much More
These are a few of the features that project management tools in an SaaS ecosystem often include:
1. Trigger Automated Tasks
Automation features found in many SaaS project management tools can help to increase the efficiency of your teams even more. For example, once a team member completes a task, a new task can automatically be assigned to them. This prevents time being wasted on both sides as that team member waits on their next assignment.
Other tasks can be automatically triggered as well. For example, deadlines can be automatically updated depending on when certain tasks are completed. Alerts can be set up to be sent out when tasks are completed or deadlines are jeopardy of being missed.
2. Generate In Depth Reports and Analysis
The best project management software offers in-depth reports and analysis at your fingertips so that you can identify inefficiencies within your projects. Many SaaS solutions provide detailed project budget reports, expense reports, and performance reports, as well as the ability to customize your reports to get a quick overview of the progress of your projects. It should be easy to spot negative trends that you can address immediately.
Additionally, SaaS project management tools can create project dashboards that are updated in real time and that include an extensive number of KPIs. These dashboards can be made accessible to your team members so they can track their own progress as well.
3. Integrate With Other Tools
Like with time tracking tools, project management tools are even more effective when they can be integrated across numerous applications, whether it's QuickBooks, Microsoft Outlook, or Gmail, or many others. This is because your team is likely going to have to use a variety of different applications to work on and complete their tasks, and monitoring data relevant to these tasks will only help make it easier to track and improve productivity.
Productivity Software in the Age of SaaS is a Wide and Varied Industry
Productivity software can be incredibly helpful in improving the cost efficiency and effectiveness of your company's operations. However, you'll find that the functionality and scalability of your time tracking and project management tools will greatly improve if you switch to SaaS productivity solutions. There are many subscription-based SaaS productivity solutions out there to choose from, many of which offer unique features that could greatly benefit your business.