Expanding your app-titude

A monthly look at apps and websites that can make the CPA’s job and life better.
By Greg LaFollette, CPA/CITP, CGMA

I seem to always be working with an out-of-date to-do list and am unable to control the tasks that somehow appear there—and those that don't. There has to be a technological solution, right? Unfortunately, no, but apps at least provide the appearance of control and maybe, just maybe, with time, discipline, and luck, I'll get my list under control. This column is my first foray into the giant pool of to-do list apps. Why are there hundreds of apps in this space? It's because making and keeping a to-do list is darn near as hard as completing the listed tasks!

TO DO A SIMPLE TO-DO LIST, JUST DO! IT

The app dubbed Do! claims to be "the best of simple to-do lists." Do!'s claim of being the easiest to-do list maker just might be accurate. It is very simple. Upon opening the app, you're greeted by a fairly clean screen with a big plus sign in the lower left corner. (There's also an ad floating across the bottom of the screen, and the premium I paid to get rid of it was well worth the small cost.) Adding an item is as simple as touching the plus sign, typing the task, and hitting "Done." The app also has a calendar, an alarm, and a categorization system of color-coded tabs. That's pretty much it. The app provides rudimentary sorting, and you can customize the view. A surprise feature was the app's ability to back itself up to a Dropbox account. Overall, it's stupid simple, and that's exactly what I was hoping for.

If you don't need (or want) a lot of features and like to create to-do items fast, Do! is as simple as it gets.

  • Website: ordinarypeople.in
  • Cost: Basic, free; Premium, $1.99
  • Operating system: iOS only

ASANA HELPS COMPANIES ORGANIZE, MANAGE, AND COLLABORATE ON PROJECTS

Over toward the more "full featured" end of the to-do list pool, you'll find apps designed to be customized and specifically configured for teams, workflow planning, and project management. Although it has competitors, Asana stands out. It's almost always found at the top of the short lists of "the best to-do lists for your office." Here are some reasons.

Asana's task management product allows companies to manage and organize tasks and projects and also to communicate and collaborate more effectively. It's a solid fit for groups that regularly handle multiple projects. Asana also includes customizable dashboards, reporting, notifications, and rudimentary document management (100-megabyte limit per attachment). I particularly appreciate that its "Inbox" feature contains all system-generated messages and updates. The designers were wise to not commingle these messages with users' general email. Asana is fairly open and seems to play well with Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, and Slack. That feature will prove very important for larger or more sophisticated installations.

Asana is free for as many as 15 people. If you want premium support or features, or you have more than 15 team members, you can upgrade to Asana's single-subscription plan. The premium plan provides myriad additional features, unlimited dashboards, and significant additional administrative functionality.

  • Website: asana.com
  • Cost: Basic, free for up to 15 users; Premium, $100 per year per user
  • Operating systems: web, iOS, Android

Greg LaFollette (greg.lafollette@hq.cpa.com) is a strategic adviser with CPA.com, the commercial subsidiary of the AICPA.

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