Everyone knows that technology is advancing at a rapid rate, but not everyone knows what becomes available to them with these new advancements. The Cloud, device syncing, and free online file transferring are just a few examples of relatively new technologies that people have heard of but don’t fully understand. This paperless world we are shifting into can become a great ally if one learns to utilize the free web applications that connect multiple users to the same working environment. Team management, project management, tasking, scheduling, and content creation can be streamlined and shared without the use of email, freeing up the inbox to have it be focused more on client communication.
Team/Project Management – Asana.com
The days of using a giant wall calendar or project board to organize your team and projects have passed. Sending countless short emails to update your team on tasks and objectives is also a thing of the past. With the large number of project organization and team communication applications available for free on the web, you can now delegate tasks and create schedules that the entire team can see both instantly in the office and on the go.
Our favorite is Asana.com, “the easiest way for teams to track their work – and get results.” This online platform has a wide variety of tools to create and manage projects and delegate tasks to a team, while everyone can contribute and update their progress. Each project you create is unique, in which you can designate certain team members to be a part of a task or open it to the entire team. With its simple process of task-creation, you can easily assign members to a task, set a due date, add descriptions/links/files, and communicate within the scope of the task.
Each person that signs into the site has a personalized homepage that shows the tasks they need to complete, which can be viewed in list or calendar format. Those of you who have been using Outlook to organize your schedule will be familiar with the calendar view, as it lays out tasks according to the day they are due. With the combination of the Asana mobile app (available on both iOS and Android), each team member can view and update their tasks while out of the office, as well as always have a reminder on hand.
The main issue this application solves is email disorganization. Before, countless emails would be sent between team members, with CC’s, BCC’s and attached documents, which would fill up your inbox. These emails would get in the way of important client and customer emails, slowing down response time and even sometimes causing the emails to “disappear”. Keeping track of emails being sent was also a huge pain, especially when the email conversation was shared between more than 3 people. This separation of team communication from client/customer communication relieves plenty of stress and keeps the team focused.
You can find out more about Asana at http://asana.com, and it is free up to a certain amount of users. To increase the size, a small monthly fee is applied, which for large teams working with many projects, it is definitely worth it. There are also other programs that are similar to this, which you can find here: http://alternativeto.net/software/asana/
Document, Spreadsheet, and Powerpoint Creation – Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides
Google’s list of tools and applications is very extensive, and somehow they were able to make each and every one vital and extremely useful. One of these tools is Google Drive, the free, online substitute for Microsoft Office. Even with it being free to the public, Google Drive can go toe-to-toe with Microsoft office in terms of performance and flexibility. Once you get used to the location of where all the options are, which are very similar to Office, Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides will become your best friends.
What Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides can accomplish that Microsoft Office can’t is sharing and working on documents with team members seamlessly and in real-time. Instead of saving a document, sending it in an email, downloading and editing the document, saving it, sending it back, etc, you can invite people to view and edit the document from their computer at the same time you can. Updates are saved and applied immediately, and others can see it happen as they are viewing it. Under a general company email, you can set up the Google Drive that will keep all these documents saved for future reference.
No more losing documents, no more forgetting attachments, and you can now work on a document in or out of the office, even from a mobile phone. This is especially great for sales/inventory tracking, expense tracking, and creative writing, in which any team member has instant access to the document at any time. Printing is also formatted well, in which it doesn’t print out the weird URL’s at the bottom of the page when you usually print a web-page. If you already have a Gmail account, you already have access to Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides by visiting http://docs.google.com.
File Transferring – WeTransfer.com or Dropbox.com
For any files that are not Documents (such as videos, images, PDF files, etc.) sharing these files can become a hassle if they are too large to fit in an email. Luckily, there are 3 methods that we prefer to send these files to one another. Since the first method is using a flash drive, I’ll go ahead and skip it and move onto the “cooler” options.
The first online method that we enjoy is WeTransfer.com. This method is best for when you just need to send a single file or a folder to one person. You do not have to create an account for this site, you just enter your email, the recipient’s email, the file and a little customized message. The site uploads and sends the large file to the recipient with a downloadable link. Very simple and easy to use, which you can try out at http://wetransfer.com.
The second online method we like to use is Dropbox.com. Dropbox is great for sharing files and folders with a team or multiple people. Once you create an account, you get your own “storage space” to upload files and folders and have them securely stored online. You can then invite people with their emails to view and access the folder, download its contents, or upload more files and folders to it. In a marketing team, for example, you can upload and store all of your advertisements and web graphics for the entire team to have access to. The free account comes with 2GB of storage space, which you can upgrade for a small fee. You can find out more info at http://dropbox.com.
With all of these tools now at your disposal, you can be free to create and manage elaborate projects with teams without your email inbox being flooded!