Hello Design Lovers! Lately, I have been receiving quite a lot of questions regarding how to properly handle project management, company and relationship development, and so on. Now, every company is different, even if by a tiny margin, and I am convinced that there is no one-size-fits-all recipe. So, I’ll just refer to facts from my experience.
Don't worry though, there will be plenty of useful info and tips on things that me and the team at A Designer at Heart tried. Just remember that every advice, software, or process has to fit your company, start-up, or small business.
Back in March me and Rick decided to go on voluntary quarantine even without any official statement by the UK Government. As soon as I took the decision, the first thing I did was to think about apps and researching the best suited for remote work. At the beginning, I was almost made fun of because I kept coming back every day with new apps to try for different things. Luckily, in the end, the effort paid out and I found a few that are working perfectly for us.
So, in a post-pandemic world with still so much uncertainty, the software is the way to go. During the past months of 2020, we had the opportunity to experiment with various apps, some already well-known, some less. Overall, we extended quite a bit our software diversification and as a result improved processes and efficiency as well. Let’s start with the first one...
Toggl is a new one. I added this to my portfolio of apps only recently during the quarantine period. We desperately needed to improve traceability for every project and phase of our work. Toggl allows you to do exactly this.
Each one of us created references for the projects we were managing. Then, by activating the clock when working on a specific task we are able to trace the exact amount of time spent on it by the second. This is priceless when it comes to organise future work, which is an extremely hard thing to do when working on large construction projects. But it can also turn out to be extremely helpful for less obvious steps. One is coming up with the appropriate quotation for a specific job, almost impossible to do without knowing how long a certain phase could take.
This is many people’s favourite. Dropbox has simply been the basis of our work right from the start. Naturally, it is particularly relevant for someone working in architecture, interior design, or in the construction industry, as we pretty much always deal with huge files that would fill a computer’s internal memory in no time.
All the companies I have worked for had a physical server. I never wanted this for my company because since the beginning I decided that we should be able to work from anywhere. So, I immediately jumped on Dropbox to store our work and with the pandemic, this has been a blessing because we all had access to all the files on the cloud as usual. It’s also helpful when I’m on-site visits around Europe and are able to work from any city, always with access to our entire server. Best decision ever!
OneDrive has a similar use to Dropbox, so it has been vital to organise other materials of our various business functions, from accounting to marketing. In this case, the integration with Microsoft services, emails, and especially Office 365 is a huge plus to be able to work on every file even from different devices.
Slack is also a recent addition. It is an incredibly powerful tool thanks to its integration with other applications and its versatility.
On this, we are able to create chats for selected members or regarding specific projects while having everything in the same place. It has naturally become much more important as we all went on lockdown and I had to manage remotely all the work.
Stuff that I otherwise would have carried out talking directly with my team is now mostly managed through Slack. Some smaller and seemingly less important features have turned out to be incredibly useful too. For instance, being able to pin messages at the top of a chat (and being able to modify it later), allowed us to keep track of the daily activities completed for each project and the ones still left to tackle.
In fact, we use it mainly for the day-to-day internal communication and to keep track of things that are on hold or that we need to follow up on. It’s an excellent brain dump for everything project-related and even some chit chats.
Skype and Teams apart from being both Microsoft property are both videoconferencing apps, so massively important lately. They partially overlap of course but have a slightly different use.
Generally speaking, for personal calls, or group calls with our team we tend to use Skype. Slack has also some great features for video calls, but we had some problems with those and always ended up returning on the first two.
Teams is more suited for large group calls. It is, in fact, the software of choice for all the weekly meetings we have with our clients. It is actually claimed that the software can handle up to 10,000 people with it, but we haven’t tried that yet ?.
Since videoconference services are such a big part of our current professional life, many companies have now their own. Google has its own as well, and there are more popular ones too. So, specialisation is key, and as of now, Microsoft has the right coverage for us. Naturally, the truth is here each app could be more suited for some individuals rather than others depending on their necessity. So, mine is just the current preference, but with so many options the final choice is yours.
Last but not least, Asana. This is a software that I adopted very early in the process of establishing A Designer at Heart, and I never stopped using. It has quite literally become an integral part of my daily life, and not just the professional one. Sometimes I joke about the fact that I would probably even forget my name if I didn’t use it.
As I showed previously on Instagram Stories too, my daily schedule is handled entirely through Asana. I’d never be able to remember all the small tasks I have to manage daily, so having everything written down is absolutely lifesaving. Plus, ticking the completed assignments off is so satisfying that it is almost worth using the app just for that!
These are all the apps I am using daily for my project management. Naturally, along with these, there are many more for specific phases of our work, design, layout planning, and so on.
I hope this helps you clarify the use of some of these or decide whether it is something you might need. Have you guys tried these apps as well? Have you found better ones? Let me know via social and let’s help each other to improve our efficiency!
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