A Whole New World of Project Management
Before entering the field of web design, and marketing, I held several positions in various sectors of the nonprofit world. Although time and technology have progressed rapidly in the past few years, I watched the previous organizations I worked with struggle with how to adopt and best use these new pieces of software and systems internally, to work more collaboratively.
Project management tools offer great potential for teams within businesses both big and small to work together to accomplish tasks efficiently. Especially when your SaaS business is spread across continents and time zones, staying organized and in sync is crucial to success. By comparing old school versions that were used and are still used and new school tools that are available today, it’s easy to see the ways in which these digital organization systems play a large role in the success of business operations.
Old School: I would receive personal tasks in meetings, by email, or in casual conversation. I then would track tasks by making lists either on paper or in Outlook, crossing off items, and finally sending deliverables to the task creator. There were some online tools used for specific projects, however, the majority of actions were carried out in the aforementioned ways. As a result, managing tasks this way required constant follow up and was susceptible to forgetfulness and human error.
New School: Several online platforms now offer complex ways to assign, communicate about, re-assign, and mark tasks as complete. In this way, there is a central location for organizing both individual and team workloads and tracking all progress. At Growth Labs we currently use ActiveCollab, but Capterra also provides a whole list of rankings for different softwares. Beyond those that are specific to marketing, these general project management tools are crucial to promoting transparency and permit fluid, constructive communication across all teams, even if employees are in separate offices or working remotely.
Old School: Situated in my cubicle, even the simplest and most casual questions or discussions felt like an interruption to my workflow at my old jobs. Whether it involved dialing the phone, composing a formal email, or scheduling a meeting about a task, the creation of the venue to chat felt like a drain on time and energy before even getting to the heart of the matter itself. Then, when people started working remotely or we had to collaborate with a team in a different office, this felt even more painstaking.
New School: Since the beginning of AOL Instant Messenger, online chatting has become a staple of communication and continues to make strides in the workplace. Multiple tools from Slack to Skype for Business have stepped in to provide a platform for professional internal and external communications. While you’ll have to judge whether it’s appropriate to send emojis, GIFs, and abbreviated text slang within your SaaS business team, having this incorporated into Growth Labs’ workstream has proved invaluable, especially when communicating across borders.
Old School: Although the Microsoft Word Track Changes tool was innovative in its time, using Word and Excel became impossible for my previous teams when several people needed to be editing or tracking information in a document at one time. To be even more outdated, we sometimes would send emails of the text back and forth to edit, rather than attaching a document. Not only was this extremely slow, but also it hindered the full benefits of commenting, adding links, and required an extra step for formatting.
New School: Recently, Microsoft Office launched OneDrive and Live as a way for paying users to collaborate together, however, this small step in the trending direction might still be too late compared to fully online systems. Google by far has become the leader in that it is user-friendly for storing and collaborating on documents, spreadsheets, and presentations and operating on all computer systems. Whichever document-sharing program you use, your team will appreciate the ability to work together to get the job done in real time.
Old School: Clocks, timers, and the good old human skill of estimation were all used often when it came to tracking time in my previous positions. Even at an organization where time needed to be tracked for external audit, we were trusted to input a breakdown at the end of the day in our timecards and track the specific tasks we worked on in our calendars. Again, this required an extra step of the day, which could be considered a time waster in itself.
New School: As time becomes more and more important and especially as companies transition to remote work, tools that incorporate time tracking are becoming increasingly essential. Severalt tools have built-in time tracking systems, which can combine these two essential functions seamlessly. From an employee perspective, using a time tracker encourages streamlined actions and a stronger awareness of breaks and workflow interruptions. From an employer perspective, time tracking data can be used to note the skillsets of different team members and use these comparative advantages to maximize team output and potential.
Do any of these old school project management methods sound familiar?
New online tools continue to respond to and influence changes to the traditional 9-to-5 office work schedule. What is clear is that remote work is a growing trend, and as work increasingly takes place online, the old school methods of project management will no longer match the conditions and intuitions of the modern SaaS business. Whether your company operates in this way already, or you are considering remote work as a new way to drive innovation, boost employee satisfaction, and maximize efficiency, project management tools are your friend for managing this transition and reaping the rewards.