As the tech guy at the company, I find myself with a lot of jobs to do and often no idea how long they’re going to take. For example, if someone’s computer has decided to stop working, how long does that take to fix? Depends on if the power cable is unplugged (30 second fix) or if the hard drive has died (60-90 minutes for a reinstall). As you can see, there’s quite a difference between the times of those two possibilities.
And what about all the projects i’m involved in? How on earth does one keep up to date, know which one is most important and remember what’s done and what’s not? Furthermore, how do you keep other people up to date without huge chains of emails where details can get lost in amongst conversations? After all, all it takes is for one person in an email conversation to forget to hit “reply all” and suddenly the whole operation can come crashing down. Not that it’s the end of the world, but by the time you’ve sorted out communication and got everything back on track you’ve forgotten where you were up to with another project, and so on forever into an abyss of spinning plates and large black coffees.
So how do we cope with all this? Well, being a digital agency, the answers are obviously going to be technological – no pen and paper here. We use a few different methods for different things, and where possible we integrate them together so everyone knows what’s going on in real time.
Slacking to productivity
First up is Slack. Slack looks, at first, like a chat platform, much like the MSN messenger of old – however it’s much more powerful than that – you can have channels, much like IRC chatrooms, where you can either have them as a public forum, or as a private discussion where every response and idea is kept forever, so if you need to refer back at a later date there’s no “well I thought you said this” when you can clearly trace back to the source – a handy alternative to making minutes to a meeting! Slack also integrates well with other software – we use Google Calendar to keep appointments and meetings, and every time a new meeting is scheduled a message is sent out to everyone via a Slack channel. Since we’re all connected via the desktop app and on our mobiles and iPads, there’s an incredibly high chance that we’ll see it either instantly or next time we look at our device.
Trello ‘ello, what’s all this?
Next up is Trello. We use Trello to keep our projects organised, a bit like the old “giant whiteboard” method where each job has its own section, and each section has detailed steps. Trello is really useful because not only can we keep each project separate (on “boards”) but within those projects, we can break down the necessary jobs into “cards”. These cards can be assigned to specific people (meaning you get an email when things are changed or updated) and anyone on the system can be mentioned, much like a Twitter mention, and they will be notified. We can upload images or PDFs and have them viewable by the team or by clients (who can be given their own login to see progress and make comments). Need to give someone a poke for an update? Mention them on their project and they’ll get a notification straight to the phone if they’ve got the app installed. Want to tick a job as done? Put a tick sticker on it!
We’ve used tons of management software over the years, looking for the right platform – I think we’ve finally found it. Until we end up talking over a Discord server…..