Blog Post

Bits and Bytes: FreshBooks, Zapproved, GatherGrid

FreshBooksI love it when I come across several new apps or new features on old apps that just shout out “productivity” to me. First, the latest news that I received in my inbox is that FreshBooks now has a free time tracking app for the iPhone. I was excited about their desktop widget for the Mac way back when, but frankly, I haven’t used it. Even their pop out time tracker on their site is quite functional, but I have yet to develop the habit of bringing it up when I’m working.

But put it on the iPhone and suddenly the mundane and forgettable act of tracking time is fun and accessible and begging for me to use it. Kudos to any cool Web application who ups their cool – and usability – factor by making it work on my iPhone.

Zapproved.comAnother useful Web application is Zapproved. Anyone who has gone back and forth and back and forth approving something knows how tedious it can be, even via email. I recently had a client who was looking for a way to facilitate the approval process without the headache. I sent them to Backboard which I reviewed in a previous post. I still think that Backboard is elegant for anything visual that needs to be approved, but when it comes to approving a concept or other type of proposal, Zapproved could do the trick quickly and simply.

If you need approval from multiple people on any of your work, start a proposal, enter the email addresses of the approves (Zapproved will remember those addresses for later use), give your proposal a title, enter the deadline for feedback, and give your proposal or project a name. You can set the proposal’s priority, add a description and even attach files.

Attaching files is the part where I think Backboard still wins, allowing you to upload the graphic or text file needing approval so it is easily viewed rather than downloaded. But Zapproved is about simplicity. Approvers receive an email where they can Approve, Deny or Comment on the proposal. As the person issuing the proposal, you can access all the activity on any outstanding proposal in your Message Center. You can also comment on it, cancel it if someone rejects it or close it out as completed. Zapproved archives your proposals for future reference.

GatherGridThe next app I want to mention is GatherGrid, but first, I have to remind you all that I’m a huge fan of, the super simple way to schedule a meeting or call involving multiple people. It is no frills and really gets the job done.

But in steps GatherGrid, another free app for scheduling. The interface actually brings the date and time grid that doodle displays after everyone has entered their times to the home page so all you have to do is check off the time blocks that work for you, create the event, and invite your participants. They receive an email, click on a link to get to the grid, click the time blocks where they are available, and you have the combined input on a single grid to pick the most suitable date and time.

What are your latest favorite apps or widgets, and how are they helping you with your work?

4 Responses to “Bits and Bytes: FreshBooks, Zapproved, GatherGrid”

  1. Wow freshbooks looks great. Hope they release a standard mobi UI for those of use without iPhones!

    But doodle = “No frills”? I’d say “no convenience”! Doodle is such a pain. It takes like 40 drop-down menus to offer 10 options! You can do that (and more) in just 2 clicks with GatherGrid. GatherGrid is much faster and easier for everyone involved in coordinating a meeting.