How productive would you say your organization is? You probably have a gut feeling that your team is working as hard as they can (or maybe you think they’re a bunch of slackers), but either way, it’s a feeling. Sure, you might be basing this feeling on the fact that everyone seems to be at their computers all day, or due to catching Fred spending too much time playing Candy Crush, but it’s ultimately a feeling—and feelings are bad for business.
The right way to think about productivity is to use objective information and formally analyze it. You have to measure productivity to ensure your conclusions are unbiased, and analyze those data in a way that motivates you to take action. The question is, what productivity analytics tools will give you these objective, quantifiable insights?
The Benefits of Productivity Analytics Tools
There are many productivity analytics tools to choose from, but before we dig into them, let’s recap some of the most important benefits of incorporating them into your productivity analysis:
- Workload balancing. All your employees probably claim to be busy, but it’s highly likely that some of your employees are more overloaded than others. Analyzing the amount of work each employee is doing can help you rebalance those workloads.
- Individual employee progress. Each of your employees will have strengths and weaknesses, and individual goals they want to achieve with their role in your organization. Productivity tracking will help you monitor their progress, and direct them on how they can improve further.
- Teamwork and collaboration analysis. You’ll also be able to determine how your team is performing overall. For example, are your employees motivated to collaborate, or do they seem mostly pigeonholed in their individual responsibilities?
- Promotion, bonus, and raise data. Determining how to reward employees can be challenging for an employer; how do you determine how to distribute promotions, bonuses, and raises? Productivity stats can simplify this decision, giving you an objective basis on which to base your distribution.
- Employee ROI. You can also loosely determine the ROI of each employee, taking into account variables like their role within the company and current salary. This can also help with future hiring decisions.
Productivity Analytics Tools for Every Business
Let’s take a look at some of the best productivity analytics software available to businesses, broken down by category.
General Productivity Analytics Tools
First up are some “general” productivity analytics tools, which cover a wide range of potential applications, but are centrally focused on improving productivity through data-based insights.
EmailAnalytics is our own productivity tool that allows you to monitor, measure, and analyze how your employees use email – as long as you’re using Gmail or G Suite. With interactive data analytics, you’ll be able to visualize how many emails your employees are sending and receiving in a day, and determine peak days and times for their work. You’ll also get to see average email response times, which is crucial for gauging customer service and sales success. In any case, it’s a handy tool to learn how to rebalance your employee workloads and visualize employee efficiency and productivity.
For those using Outlook instead, you could use Microsoft’s MyAnalytics. It’s not as comprehensive in terms of email analysis, but it will help you analyze your employees’ schedules, and determine how much time they’re spending in various apps (and in meetings throughout the day). You’ll also get specific recommendations on how you can improve your approach.
ActivTrak is free employee monitoring software that you can use to analyze how much time your workers are spending on productive tasks. You can download and install it on any computer, at which point it will run in the background and give you the ability to remotely monitor your employees’ actions. It’s a great way to keep track of how your remote employees are doing, and can protect you from insider threats.
If you’re looking for a simpler tool, you could try iDoneThis, a nifty app designed to keep your team in communication with each other in terms of accomplishments, productivity, and obstacles in the way of productive work. Each day, your employees will submit a short report on their completed tasks, goals, and blocks. You can collect this information and analyze it to decide how to update your operations.
TinyPulse is similar, but with a few important exceptions. In addition to getting reports from your employees, you’ll have the opportunity to gather real-time anonymous feedback. This is crucial, because it gives employees a chance to speak up about obstacles to their productivity in an environment free from consequences. These qualitative data are extremely useful in helping you find ways to improve productivity.
OpenConnect’s WorkiQ is a “workforce intelligence” platform that helps you monitor, track, and analyze your employees’ tasks and behaviors. You’ll be able to view productivity dashboards as they’re updated in real time, and gather insights that help you optimize your employee workloads and environments.
Time Tracking Productivity Analytics Tools
Some productivity analytics tools are based around time tracking—calculating how much time employees are spending on specific tasks or categories of work. These are some of the best time tracking apps currently available. And if your team needs help with time management, be sure to check out our post on time management skills!
7. Time Doctor
Time Doctor is primarily a time tracking tool, but it has some secondary features that make it good for other applications. With it, you’ll be able to track which websites your employees are visiting, and take screenshots of their desktops at periodic intervals. You can also use it to manage payroll, to an extent.
There’s also Toggl, which is a free time tracking tool. It has many of the same features you’ll find in other time tracking tools in this section, but it also has an open API, so you can integrate it with other management tools your company is already using.
DeskTime is a time tracker that boasts the ability to boost team productivity by as much as 30 percent. It automatically tasks the time your employees spend in various apps and on various websites, and takes screenshots at regular intervals. It also allows you to calculate total costs for projects and tasks.
Available in an online platform, Harvest is a simple time tracker that gives employees an interface that’s easy to learn and use. It also has built-in integrations to make it easier to manage payroll and connect with your project management systems.
You could also use Everhour, which helps you track your time, manage client billing, and make accurate estimates for how long future projects and tasks (of a similar nature) are going to take. Built into the app are time tracking, resource planning, budgeting, invoicing, and reporting features.
RescueTime is designed to help you measure and analyze how you spend the finite hours of your day, alerting you to apps, URLs, or tasks that are taking up a disproportionate amount of time. It also provides you with detailed data visuals, so you can intuitively see where you’re spending the most time and energy.
Project Management Tools for Productivity Analytics
You can also use some project management apps as tools to conduct productivity analytics. Most of these tools are primarily focused on organizing and managing projects, with secondary features that allow you to analyze employee work overall.
Basecamp is a simple project management platform that allows you to create projects, assign workers, create and assign tasks, and create public discussion threads at each level. With it, you can create to-do lists, manage employee schedules, and keep an eye on how productively your employees are working. It’s also highly customizable, so you can tweak it to work the way you want.
Beesy.me is focused on creating and managing workflows, giving you a chance to visualize how your employees are spending time and analyze your team communications. You can study how productive your meetings are, assign and manage employee tasks, and track your team’s performance over both the short-term and long-term.
nTask is free, which is always a plus, and gives you a platform you can use to manage tasks within your entire organization. With it, you can manage ongoing communication threads with your team, and leverage project management, time tracking, and reporting tools to get a feel for how productive your employees are. With just a few weeks of data, you can effectively rebalance your employee workloads and devise new strategies to improve productivity.
Asana is a project management platform that helps you break your projects down by task and by subtask, giving you base-level insights into how your employees are performing. It also offers a flexible API, so you can integrate with other productivity tools or apps meant to increase your team’s output.
Relying on a board-based system of organizing tasks and lists, Trello is a project management platform with a unique UI. It’s great for keeping your team organized and improving collaboration between individual employees, but the real benefit here is the reporting, which lets you analyze your team’s productivity. Trello is one of our top online collaboration tools — be sure to click that link to see the full list!
Wrike is an online project management platform that uses repeatable, customizable workflows to direct how your employees engage with their work. Baked-in data visuals give you a chance to see how your employees are completing their tasks and spending their hours, so you can quickly learn which obstacles are in their way—and devise strategies for how to eliminate or mitigate them.
LiquidPlanner gets its name from the platform’s inherent flexibility. With smart scheduling and adaptive workflows, you can use it to keep tabs on projects and tasks that are constantly evolving. With built-in tools for measuring employee productivity and team goal progress, it’s ideal for learning more about your organization’s overall productivity.
ProofHub is a feature-rich project management software that lets you plan your projects, collaborate with team members, and keep your work organized. You can add tasks with deadlines and assign them to team members. It lets you carry out discussions in real-time, communicate using the in-built chat app, share files, annotate design files using markup tools, and review, proof, and approve them.
21. Fingerprint for Success
Fingerprint for Success (F4S) is a people analytics platform and a personalized coaching app that brings the best out of leaders and their team. F4S helps improves team dynamics and helps create an awesome team environment. It’s the ultimate tool to reveal the hidden talents and blind spots inside yourself and your team. Based on 20 years of scientific study, F4S measures 48 attitudes specific to work and benchmarks them against the world’s most successful innovators.
Your team’s productivity will never be perfect, but the more you learn about it and the more you invest into improving it, the better return you’ll get on your efforts. These productivity analytics tools will help you determine which areas of improvement are most important, but after that, it’s on you to implement the procedural changes necessary to get the most out of your team. For more tools you can use to get a handle on your email and productivity, see our post on the best sales productivity tools, as well as the best email management tools and the top 21 essential tools for remote teams.
If you’re interested in getting started with the best productivity analytics tool for monitoring email activity, sign up for a free trial of EmailAnalytics, and learn when, why, and how your employees are emailing—so you can rebalance their workloads and give them the tools they need to succeed.
Jayson is a long-time columnist for Forbes, Entrepreneur, BusinessInsider, Inc.com, and various other major media publications, where he has authored over 1,000 articles since 2012, covering technology, marketing, and entrepreneurship. He keynoted the 2013 MarketingProfs University, and won the “Entrepreneur Blogger of the Year” award in 2015 from the Oxford Center for Entrepreneurs. In 2010, he founded a marketing agency that appeared on the Inc. 5000 before exiting it in January of 2019, and he is now the CEO of EmailAnalytics, and co-host of the podcast The Entrepreneur Cast.