As a small business working in a service industry with demanding clients (find me ones that aren’t!), it’s essential that the team stays organised and uses its time as efficiently as possible.
Here are a few ways we benefit from collaboration software that might work for you too!
*FYI: we use Asana – for the following to make sense it’s important to have a basic understanding of how it works. Every member of your team gets their own login. The software is broken into ‘Teams’, ‘Projects’ and ‘Tasks’. Each member is assigned to the appropriate teams by your company Asana admin. Teams contain projects. Each project could be a different client of yours for example. Then within those projects team members are assigned tasks. For example, at my agency employees are added to the overall marketing team before being assigned to projects (client accounts) and then assigned tasks under each of those projects. All line managers have to do is view a project, sort all tasks by assignee, and they can quickly tell who’s doing what for each client.*
Firstly, SO MANY. When you’re starting out you don’t realise how lucky you are not to get stuck in them all day. So when your diary’s chock-a-block you can at least make the internal ones as efficient as possible.
Recurring agenda item? Not a problem, set it as a recurring task in your meeting project. Thought of something at midnight while lying in bed? Easy. Just add it to the agenda. Then, when you’re in the meeting you can motor through the agenda setting tasks as you go to ensure nothing’s missed.
My agency is an integrated one, meaning we mix different marketing channels to greatest effect. It also means we have specialists in each channel. Ensuring the service we provide actually remains integrated and consistent and that specialists work together in harmony is half the battle.
Collaboration software allows you to view tasks by assignee so you can see exactly who’s working on what and when they’re due to complete it; essential for ensuring team members stay focussed on the right things. It also means conversations regarding tasks don’t spill onto email and various other forms of comms, as all discussions can be had within the software itself.
Another useful feature is the ability to create sub tasks within tasks. If you have one task that requires input from three or four team members, not a problem. Create sub tasks with their own due dates and assign them to the people responsible. You then have visibility into how the components of a task are progressing.
Structured freelance support
As an SMB you likely don’t have budget for full time accountants or HR staff. Not a problem. The roots of collaboration software are found in software development, where disparate, regionally dispersed teams needed an effective way to collaborate.
Being cloud based, as long as you have a passable internet connection, you can access online collaboration software anywhere. That means if your accountant works from home for you one day a week it’s not a problem.
Set recurring management account tasks or payroll tasks and stay on top of your finances. Likewise for HR; it’s unlikely as an SMB you can afford to hire a full time HR manager so bring in freelance support and manage recurring performance appraisals using your collaboration software. The ability to create private teams means potentially sensitive information can be ring fenced.
There we have it – just a few of the ways collaboration software has benefited our small business. Gone are the days of identical task lists being written in notebooks day after day; instead we’ve found a better way to manage our business. It will be interesting to see how the platform scales – and I’ll hopefully be back to explain how we use it when we’re four times the size!