At its core, every business, regardless of size, is dependent upon one idea.
Provide a product or service for a customer in exchange for something we have agreed upon as an equitable exchange. What that really breaks down to is how we spend our time providing that product or service while making a profit. The delineation between profit and loss is decided somewhere in the execution of what all those seconds, minutes and hours add up to in completing this transaction loop.
The more productive we are the more profitable we become. As we gain the ability to add more clients, render more services or provide more goods grows our business. It’s basic economics in motion. But as workplaces become more and more interconnected, timetables become shorter and the margin for error grows smaller, how do we stay afloat, on task, and hopefully, profitable? Enter project managers and the tools they wield in this endless effort.
Project management is the subtle art of putting out one fire as another begins, or throwing just enough water on multiple fires to keep them contained. In reality, the term can mean many things. In some cases its keeping team members on task, at other times, it’s finding solutions to salvage a timeline or budget. Most importantly, it’s the practice of coordinating elements towards a common goal. That goal may change from profit to timetable to simply completing an effort, but the result remains the same. We are here and we need to get there, but how?
A good place to start is to organize your thoughts. There are plenty of ways to go about organizing our thinking; from bulleted lists and sticky notes to dry erase boards and shared documents. Think about the cork board from any old murder mystery, where a detective stands smoking a cigarette, trying to piece together “who done it.” You’ll see some common elements that are essential to good project organization. You can forget circling photos in red grease pen and tracing connections between suspects with yarn, but the idea remains the same.
How do we take all of these seemingly unconnected efforts, dates, deadlines and staff members and build a timeline, next steps and achievable project benchmarks on the road to completion? Luckily, we live in a new golden age of thought organization and digital project management software.
Base Camp, Work Front, JIRA and many other management software apps come immediately to mind, but picking the right one for your effort will depend on balancing subscription cost or price for the software, the level of detail desired, security, custom information fields, file storage and remote access options. It all comes down to deciding “how will I utilize this tool” and working forward to “how will the team utilize the system that I build within this tool.” For our agency, the choice was clear. Asana.
Asana was the right mix of elements for our team. With an intuitive design, simple user interface, advanced search filters, project portfolio organization, project templating, task management and custom fields, it quickly replaced our various internal documents, calendars and status meetings in one fell swoop. Asana lets us pivot between ongoing web, digital, print and social media projects in one platform. Integration with various time tracking applications, budgeting software and caching of tagged client emails all add up to exactly what we needed to be more effective and ultimately more profitable.
While Asana works for our team, the variety of options available means that there’s a product to help companies of any size, in any field, with any project. It’s about deciding what’s important to you and your organization.
Did we mention the cool badges? It just wouldn’t be right not to mention that almost all of the available project management platforms offer training and certification, even badges that you can link to your website and professional networking sites. Hopefully this information will help you find a killer solution to make your team and you as productive and efficient as possible.
But honestly, it was all worth it for the cool badge.