Our team uses a range of powerful apps and processes to make our work much more effective. From project management to communication, here are our favourite workflow-improving apps.
As a digital marketing agency, we’re responsible for a lot of social media accounts. Streamlining their administration is key to keeping us working at peak efficiency and not getting distracted by any of them. To do this, we use Sprout Social. This social media management tool allows us to schedule social content, handle all our responding and monitor analytics across all our clients and their accounts with ease. We prefer its robust toolset, 24/7 support and extremely active community over its competitors and all our team are in the process of getting certified on Sprout.
Although our team is small, we’re constantly juggling a range of projects from corporate identity work to writing blogs. Keeping track of all the projects on our plate and ensuring that everybody knows what needs to be done and who is doing what is a significant task. We use Asana as our own personal project manager. With in-built chat and an incredibly dynamic workflow, Asana is great at making sure that everyone knows what needs to be done and who is doing it. Not only does it keep us on track with our own work but also gives us a pretty good idea of how busy our team mates are. It also allows us to digitally brief each other when we don’t have the time for a proper face-to-face.
For a lot of our clients, we work on set retainers, which include a specific number of billable hours. For a while we used Toggl as our main time-tracking app, but we recently switched over to Harvest to keep much more detailed track of our billable hours and the budgets on a variety of projects. With a simple interface and a simple Chrome plugin, Harvest is unobtrusive and doesn’t interrupt our workflow, while still giving us really powerful reporting tools.
Behind every successful team is clear, high-quality communication. While we’ve baked daily check-ins into our workflow, for everything else there’s Slack. We actually maintain two different Slack accounts: one for internal communication (which includes competing to see who can find the best reaction gif) and another specifically for clients. Our Google Drive, calendars and Asana are all integrated with our internal Slack, making for super simple chat within the team. For our client Slack, we fence each group of users into their own channel, making sure they have a direct line of communication with our team without ever getting in each other’s way.
While all these apps are really great efficiency-boosting tools, they’re only as good as the team that uses them. It’s been a long journey to get to a point where we use these apps constantly across projects and campaigns without breaking the system.
Other tools to use
WhatsApp can be a great platform to speed up communication, especially when some of your team members work on remote projects away from the structured environment of the office. We found it especially effective dealing with our client Lesotho Sky. They are seldom stationary and often in areas with limited internet connection. Being able to quickly connect via WhatsApp helps us to fast track decisions and avoid unnecessary meetings.
It’s also great for emergency situations when stuff brakes. Like some weird link on a social post or a website that is down.
A notes of caution:
- WhatsApp groups can bite you in the ass. Too often decisions were made on the group, but later when a paper trail is needed the platform shows its weakness. Where we use WhatsApp, we always follow it up with a confirmation email to the client and then use our regular project management tools to take it further.
- You can fall in the trap of “always on”. As long as your door is open, clients will come in. This is great if you are Mc Donalds, but if you love spending time with your family or friends far away from the glow of the screen or the beep of your phone, then you will hate how clients or colleagues will use Whatsapp Groups during “out of office” hours.
Good ol’ emails
Yes we know this is so 1998 but there is still a lot to be said of sending out that email. We’ve stopped using emails for any internal comms or file sharing. We only use it for external communication with clients. We’ve found that it still the best way to get the final go-ahead from a client on a new project or quote.
We use Google Docs for practically everything “Microsoft Office” related. From co-working on copy docs to budgeting. It has also made platforms like Dropbox totally redundant for us. It’s a great platform to give clients access to our creative process, helping us to get their feedback on projects as we are working on it.