Let’s be real, tools are cool. It’s a great feeling to find that new app, service or software that makes your life easier, but sometimes you don’t know what’s out there or where to begin to try to improve your life. These days, the App Store is cluttered with thousands of “Productivity Tools,” but if you started using them all, you would certainly be less productive. So how do you choose?
If you’re a Project Manager or strive to be a generally organized person, take a look at the tools we are using to track projects, tasks and generally improve communication. Good communication is a key to a successful team, and these tools simplify communication for the better.
Internal Project Management: Asana
At it’s core, Asana is a glorified checklist, but it is oh-so glorious. Beyond the pretty colors and intuitive UI, it serves as the core tracking and communication tool for our internal project management.
Asana easily allows for a project manager like myself to create and assign tasks to other team members, associate them with a project, add a due-date and then begin commenting, sharing files and creating sub-tasks for each to-do. Our team loves being able to jump on in the morning and go straight to “My Tasks” to have a view of what is on the docket for today, tomorrow and into the future.
We’re all more productive when we know what we are working on, and Asana allows our team to create granular to-dos that simplify the work day.
You can get started with Asana for free here: https://asana.com/
Internal Communication: Slack
How did our team communicate before Slack? It’s pretty hard to remember, but it was a mix of email chains, G-Chat, texting and speaking (who does that?!). Slack simplifies it all and has quickly become the top tool for instant communication across the team. Again, at it’s core, Slack is a glorified chat agent. But its intuitive channel-based system for organizing messages allows our team to stay focused on communication that is important to them rather than a constant stream of chatter that they might not need to see.
Beyond channels and direct messages with other teammates, Slack also allows for instant sharing of files, code-snippets, links and even integrates with Giphy to throw up random GIFs with a simple command (/giphy slack is awesome). Slack also has a sleek iPhone app so you can chat from your phone and still keep all the communication in one place.
One more awesome feature Slack boasts is the ability to be on multiple teams. While we have our Eastmont team for daily communication, we’ve also joined the Tech404 team and even jumped on a client’s team if they’re using Slack.
We love Slack and think you will too. Check it out here: https://slack.com/
External Project Management: Basecamp
Basecamp is the longest standing tool in our toolset and is still the gold-standard for project communication, organization and collaboration. Whenever we start up a project we onboard our clients onto our Basecamp account, immediately eliminating email chains and lost files forever.
Basecamp projects allow for multiple people to collaborate on discussions, tasks, calendars and file sharing in one place, removing the back and forth of email chains. We prefer to use it as our outward facing project management tool because of its simplicity. Our clients love it because it helps them never miss a message or file and serves as a storage locker for any discussion or file that they need to go back and check.
We also once got a legal tip that it is best to have records of client communications outside of email, so… that’s a plus!
Basecamp, the original Ruby on Rails application. Check ’em out: https://basecamp.com
The moral of the story
Communication is the name of the game. These three tools will help you communicate better with your team and with clients, organizing your work and your life.