Harnessing collaboration tools for business

| 30 June 2015

By Craig Wilson

Collaboration, planning, communication and project management tools have become immensely popular in recent years – and with good reason.

Whether yours is a growing start up or a large established business, these tools can help increase productivity, reduce internal email, improve visibility for management, streamline billing and timekeeping and, perhaps most importantly, encourage and enable teamwork while providing accountability.

Functions for business success
For many businesses, email remains the de facto tool for communications – both internal and external – for planning and coordinating projects or other activities. While email still has a place in business, there are far better tools available for internal communications and project management which often requires multiple staff members to communicate with one another, while also being able to track the progress of tasks assigned to various team members.

Some of the most popular project management tools are Asana, Slack and Trello. All three function in a similar fashion –managers or other administrators create profiles on the service for each staff member. Staff can then log into their individual accounts and communicate with one another, one-on-one or through group messages, using a web browser or mobile apps. It’s particularly useful for teams on the run or coordinating the activities of remote workers like sales teams.

Promoting efficiency
This immediately reduces the amount of internal email sent by staff, which in turn means pressing or pertinent external communications – like those from suppliers or customers – are less likely to get lost or overlooked in ever more crowded inboxes.

It also means teams can communicate efficiently with one another, even if they’re in disparate locations or time zones, and actions can be easily tracked. This in turn gives management a quick and easy means of assessing the progress on a particular project and identifying any problems before they derail proceedings.

Because each of the aforementioned tools support tagging and other means of organisation, key messages are less likely to be missed and the visibility provided extends not just to management, but to team leaders and team members, too.

Complementary tools
Another category of tool has sprung up to complement tools like Asana and Trello, namely time-tracking products like Harvest. Harvest integrates with Asana and Trello to provide time-tracking for tasks, which makes generating time sheets for staff and invoices for clients easier for management and staff alike.

Increased accuracy and accountability
The ability to accurately assess how long particular tasks or projects take can provide invaluable insights for companies looking to understand how much time is actually spent servicing each client relative to what each client is charged. These insights can help when it comes to renegotiating contracts or deciding whether or not additional staff are needed before taking on a new project or expanding the scope of an existing one.

Lastly, project management and communication tools make accountability simpler, and that can mean the difference between keeping a client and losing one. Because tasks can be assigned to individuals or teams, and everything from when they’re assigned to when they’re completed is time stamped, there’s no excuse for anything to slip through the proverbial cracks.

Whether you work alone or employ hundreds of people, project management tools can boost your bottom line while simultaneously helping you rest easy.

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