Like so many folks these days, I’ve assembled a team that includes office staff, remote staff, and third-party collaborators for projects and specific business services.
I’ve spent many years juggling communication and managing projects in what could only be described as something akin to a stack of file folders laced with email. As you probably know, this is not an efficient way to run a business and manage projects.
What we’ve begun to realize is that business is little more than a series of systems. And every system is a series of processes, every new initiative simply a project, and every project simply a series of tasks. When you start to view your business with this kind of thinking, you can start to organize everything around the smallest unit possible - the task.
A task is an activity as simple as reading an article or sending an email. When you start to adopt this view, you can start to see how most everything you want to accomplish in your business can be deemed a project. You might also see how to streamline the many projects you take on every day.
There are a number of tools that have helped us achieve this change in mindset. These tools have kept my growing staff organized and can help any business keep on track.
- Asana. We use Asana to organize everything as projects. It makes it very easy to create and report on tasks associated with projects, and of course, you can bring anyone from outside into a project. My daily plan, our weekly staff meeting, even my goals for the year are now in Asana as projects. The net effect, as Asana rightly promotes as a value proposition, is far greater organization and far, far less internal email.
- Process Street. Documenting processes via Process Street was the next big step in embracing our systems thinking. Imagine the value of creating assets out of your proven processes and then turning those assets into checklists that allow anyone in your business to immediately grasp how to make decisions. We divided our processes up by creating a functional org chart that focuses on what needs to be done rather than who’s doing what. This step allowed us to create a giant list of the processes that need eventual documenting and the subsequent priority in terms of tackling the creation.
- Hipchat. We improved our internal and external communication with Hipchat - instant messaging powered by chat rooms. This way we can create team chat windows that allow for individual chats and group chats and segregate them by topic. We can also share files and links and initiate audio and video chat sessions on the fly. Essentially, this is chat organized and structured with search.
Some of these tools have cross-over functionality, but we’ve integrated them in a way that I believe will make our business run better and ultimately make it more valuable.