It’s hard enough managing your own schedule, let alone balancing team resources between projects and clients – and modern ways of working throw even more challenges into the mix, making collaboration increasing virtual, globally distributed and out-of-house.
But failing to get your team in order comes with serious operational and cultural consequences, with 86% of employees and executives citing a lack of collaboration or ineffective communication for workplace failures.
Thankfully, a ton of innovative planning tools are available for teams looking to enhance collaboration and stay aligned. A good team planner can help you see what colleagues are working on, identify optimal times for collaboration and plan resources effectively across all your commitments. You just need to know what to look for.
To find the best solution, you first need to identify your team’s specific planning needs – from trans-time zone coordination to visualizing important project milestones. Consider whether any of these common problems apply to your team:
- Visibility – not knowing what tasks colleagues are working on or when they should be finished
- Capacity – regularly working long hours and never making back overtime
- Coordination – finding it hard to sync with others and find time to work on a task together
- Distribution – having an irregular workflow or workload compared to colleagues
- Support – not being able to check colleague availability when your own capacity is at its limit
- Estimation – finding it difficult to mapping project plans across all team resources
- Foresight – not knowing what project you’ll be working on next week or beyond
- Efficiency – wasting time managing multiple, manually intensive team calendars
Team planners effectively integrate your colleagues’ calendars into one intelligent space, helping you visualize all work, coordinate schedules and plan resources thoughtfully across teams and projects. Here are just seven of the best team planners to take a closer look at:
Timely’s team planner tool uses an intuitive calendar interface to map out all your team’s plans up months into the future. You can immediately grasp colleague availability and capacity, and identify optimal times to work together. Slick drag-and-drop functionality then lets you quickly protect that space, so you can assign tasks and plan out whole project timelines in a matter of minutes. Every task you assign auto-populates a draft time entry on your colleagues’ timesheets, so they don’t have to duplicate your effort. Better yet, it can also automatically track the time they end up spending on that task, helping you improve task estimates for future plans.
Podio is a planning and task management tool that helps coordinate schedules and events to ensure everyone stays on the same page, and on-track to meet deadlines. From tables to card boards, you can choose the visual style that helps you organize and schedule team time best. From there, you can also create reports to keep everyone up-to-date with team progress.
Mainly used to schedule and plan time across software teams, ZenHub is natively integrated into GitHub, using issues and data as a resource to stay up-to-date with individual schedules and ensure projects stay on-track. The “workspace” function allows teams to create different workflows and collaborate in a way that fits their specific needs, tasks and styles.
Forecast helps improve project workflows by providing project managers with a high-level overview of employee workloads. The whole tool has been developed with the constraints of client requests in mind. With a granular view, teams can focus on completing their tasks and see how their work directly impacts a project’s time and budget.
Built for Office 365, Planner has a more communicative approach to team coordination. It lets you work together on tasks, attach photos and have conversations around tasks without switching between apps. All your team’s discussions and deliverables stay with the plan and don’t get lost when switching between other planning apps. Thanks to its easy-to-use interface on both iOS and Android, you can quickly create new plans, organize and assign tasks, share files and chat about what you’re working on – even when you’re not at your desk.
A long-standing favorite for agencies and companies, Resource Guru provides a simple way to stay on top of team availability across time-zones. It also helps to keep annual leave and sick days visible, so project managers get a more accurate picture of available resources. Each user gets their own dashboard, and managers enjoy a bird’s eye view of resource availability, bookings, clients and projects.
Mavenlink accounts for most aspects of team and resource planning – including resource assignment, allocation and reassigning roles. It provides real-time availability for forecasting over coming weeks, and a “shaping” tool which allows team members to define their workweek and automatically book availability when they’re free. This helps workloads stay even and efficient across teams. Mavenlink also has its own API which can be integrated with your own custom solution.