It’s a miracle! I finally found a project management program that fits our needs, and that everyone on the team actually enjoys using.
Several weeks ago, I wrote about my efforts to get reorganized. I say reorganized because when I first started my business I had all of our collateral documents, bios, product descriptions, client processes and such up to date in their proper files. Over time, these documents have been revised and rewritten, and lets just say without version control, it is a mess.
We have been using DropBox for quite some time, but my team doesn’t like to download DropBox to their desktops since it slows their computers down when it syncs. It’s also awkward to use from the cloud since you have to download a file to work on it and then upload it again.
Over the years, we have used a handful of project management software programs without much success. If everyone doesn’t completely adopt a project management system then it won’t work, so we would go back to using checklists in Google Drive and rely on emailing tasks to each other. The back and forth emailing is the bane of my days since most people do not update the subjects on long threads.
This past month, after testing several combinations of several different applications we have come up with a system we have all happily adopted.
What is the secret combo?
We started using Box rather than Dropbox. Box has unlimited cloud storage and the business account was just $10.00 per person a month whereas additional data storage on Dropbox quickly adds up.
Box is actually much more user friendly. It has a better online user interface, allowing you to easily select files to open and edit with Word or Excel without having to go through the download upload process. Easy Peasy.
Box also has the ability to create file notes and even assign tasks. We thought we might be able to use Box as our project manager, but it wasn’t quite robust enough.
We were using Asana, which was okay but Asana did not address the issue of dealing with tasks related emails. I had to manually translate emails into Asana tasks. This was taking too much time, and so I would not do it consistently.
Todoist was a contender for replacing Asana since it included a way to create tasks directly from Gmail or Outlook from a little popup interface. We used it for a week before finding its fatal flaw. When you shared a folder with your team, you had to remember to go in and share each sub-file individually. Who could remember whether you had shared each file? If your team member couldn’t get into the file they needed, then everything came to a halt until I could go in and share the needed files. No, that wouldn’t do at all.
We were all sad about it until Michael quickly found another application, Insightly, that worked right from a widget on your email, and included global team settings. Insightly is a customer relationship manager in addition to managing projects.
Since the full email widget works best with email hosted with Google Apps, we changed our New Tricks.com email host to Google Apps and got the Insightly widget installed and working like a charm.
When someone sends me an email with a list of 16 items that we need to address, I can go to the bottom of their email and choose to turn it into an Insightly task. I am able to link it to a project, assign it to a team member, and categorize it as to the type of action needed. If it were a new lead, I could add it as an opportunity and assign it to someone to follow up on.
Insightly also gives us the ability to create pipelines and activity sets that we can assign to different types of projects. An example of this would be developing a template of tasks that need to be done, and checked off, before a website is launched. This activity set among others, would be assigned to each of our website build projects.
We are keeping our project documents in corresponding files in Box, and links to specific files can be added to projects or tasks in Insightly.
This system works really well for us, and I especially love being able to get tasks quickly assigned and all of the relevant files and documents available to whoever needs to work on it.
Now, I have resigned from the role of Monkey in the Middle and can get more rewarding work done.
What systems have you tried? Are they working for you?