Work smarter, not harder. This is a common saying for engineers because our job is to build simple solutions to complex problems. Every day we are asked to solve problems that no one else has already solved. So working smarter is often the better choice when compared to working harder. In the modern age of technology, there are many apps and tools that an engineer can use to make their work even smarter. These apps can help improve productivity, communication, and reduce time spent on mundane tasks to give you more time to work on the problems that require your focus. Here are 3 of our favorite apps that we believe any engineer or engineering team can implement into their workflow to become more productive.
Project Management Software
Have you ever tried to keep a list of the tasks that need to be completed for a project inside a spreadsheet? Every time you want to add something you need to input another row and then you mess up your formulas and formatting in the entire sheet. Or when you have to manually highlight cells in the sheet for your Gantt chart.
We’ve been there so we understand the hours of frustration engineers often spend managing their projects with a spreadsheet in Excel or Google Sheets. In recent years, many products have become available that solve these problems for you and your team! These products are considered Project Management Software. Simply put, they do what their name says, they help you manage your projects extremely well. Here is a small list of basic functionality they all share but they usually have many more features:
- Build task lists
- Assign tasks to team members
- Create gantt charts
- Keep track of project timelines
- Calculate project budgets
- Set reminders for tasks
- Flexible planning for when changes need to be made
- Help you stay on top of deliverables
- And many more!
These project management tools are extremely useful. Here at Tresca, we use one called ClickUp. We’re fans of the software and its flexibility. We’ve been using it for a while now and can say that it has greatly improved our team’s internal communication and productivity.
Do you ever have to work in your quoting application and then re-enter all that information into another software and then into another spreadsheet? Constantly doing data-entry or administrative work when you could be spending more time on your engineering projects. Zapier solves these problems.
The second app on our list of productivity apps for engineers, Zapier, is a workflow automation tool. That means that you can set up Zapier to work between multiple applications to have them talk to each other. So if you enter a new customer into your CRM, instead of having to go to Quickbooks and replicating their profile there, a workflow automation tool like Zapier will automatically do it for you!
There are thousands of possible configurations you can do with Zapier so we highly recommend going through their website and seeing what automations might work well with your workflow. Here are some of our favorites:
- Replicate database entries to other databases
- Automatically download email attachments to Google Drive
- Share media on multiple social channels at once
It is a common practice to use flowcharts to convey ideas and information to other engineers, clients, and project stakeholders. However, making them is always a pain. You have to add every single box one by one and then connect each of them with arrows. Then when you find that you need to add another step in the middle of the process, you have to move half the boxes to add one more which always messes with the formatting.
Thankfully, many companies have developed solutions to this problem. There are many online flowchart makers that allow you to make your process maps or flowcharts or many other kinds of charts in their easy-to-use interfaces. Examples of these apps include:
- Lucid Chart
- Zen Flowchart
- Draw.io (Free)
- Flowchart.fun (Free)
All 4 of these are great options and much better than the old industry standard of using PowerPoint to make a flowchart. There are lots of other options as well so take a look to find a solution that works for you and your team.
Here at Tresca, we pride ourselves on being able to work smarter so that our clients can receive the best possible solution to their problems. If you want to learn more about how our team can help you on your next project, please contact us today to discuss how we can work together.