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Making the Most of Your Project Management Software [The Basecamp S1E3]

Basecamp S1 E3 Project Management

Effective project management is essential for any agency to function seamlessly and provide consistent results for clients. It helps team members stay on track and meet deadlines, whether it be for a website launch or a marketing campaign.

Integrating project management into your team's routine takes commitment and buy-in from everyone. Team members are required to communicate more frequently and openly to ensure that the team’s overall priorities are aligned. The team will be required to be on the same page about the following:

  • What are the most important tasks to complete?
  • Who needs to complete them?
  • When do they need to be completed by?
  • Who needs to approve the work?

Our Tool of Choice: monday.com

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We use monday.com to outline and track our projects here at Ascend Inbound Marketing. It's web-based, accessible from any device and can be integrated with a lot of other tools we use regularly such as Slack, Google suite (email, calendar, drive), HubSpot and more.

Monday.com is also a flexible tool. This is important for us since not all projects are the same. Monday.com allows us to customize and create varying project structures within the platform that help us stay on top of our assigned tasks.

Another beneficial feature of this tool is that it makes sharing information easy. We can share specific project boards with our clients so that they can see their project timeline, who's responsible for what, and all the required components (or tasks) for their project. Having a tool that we can share with our clients gives them a transparent and real-time view of our progress, as well as promotes a relationship built on trust and communication.

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Another reason we enjoy using monday.com is that their team is constantly iterating and optimizing the user-experience with new features and improvements. Recently, they announced monday.com has evolved to be a Work OS, a new category of software that addresses the needs of our modern way of working. Monday 2.0 aims to eliminate whitespace, that area of work where content or tasks exist, but they are not tracked or automated.

Monday 2.0 will be the foundation upon which any team can create their own custom application to suit their exact needs, allowing them to manage every workflow, process or project in a simple and code-free manner. The Work OS will provide teams like ours with a set of building blocks that they can drag and drop to create a platform that captures and processes data, automates manual grunt work, connects between tools to bridge data silos, and analyze important insights. We're excited to see how this improves our overall workflows.

Prioritize Project Management on Your Team

Although we'd give monday.com 5-stars, that doesn't guarantee it'll be the ideal solution for your team. If you are getting ready to choose a project management tool, sit down with your coworkers and discuss it first. Talk about what's working well and what's not. Determine your goals, needs and how any software tool is going to streamline existing processes and increase productivity.

Prioritizing and making project management an integral part of your organization has many long-term benefits. It definitely requires consistent team effort and communication to get started, but once you're in the groove, your team will enjoy the newfound efficiency.

Here is the full video transcript:

Steven Carter: All right. Hey guys, welcome back to yet another episode of The Basecamp here at Ascend Inbound Marketing. And we're going to be talking about some great stuff today. We've got Gretchen Elliott, our project manager here with us again. Thanks for taking time out of your day and talking to me.

Gretchen Elliott: Thanks for having me Steven.

Steven Carter: So yeah, of course. I mean, you're here and you work here so long drive to get to this room. So what today we're going to be talking about project management, specifically how we do project management, how you maintain all aspects therein of our projects and kind of some ways that we do it that might be different than other people and just kind of run through that.

Gretchen Elliott: Sure.

Steven Carter: Yeah. So I guess to get started, project management, man, I'm glad you do it and it's not me because it would be all over the place because my organizational skills are not quite to par with yours. So obviously organization is a big part of that. So, how does that work? What are some tools you use? Concepts, how do we do that?

Gretchen Elliott: Sure. I think project management can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different organizations. So I think for us specifically, and other marketers, right, it's making sure whether it's a website project or a marketing project is staying on track. We know all the deliverables that need to be complete for it and we know what's actually in each of those deliverables. And then I think a big piece of project management that sometimes people don't focus enough on is communication. So what's the most important thing? Who needs to do what? When do they need to do it by and who needs to approve it?

Gretchen Elliott: And when you think about all those things that need to happen, it's kind of keeping a team that maybe you don't necessarily have any authority over, for everybody to really be doing what they need to do and making sure that everyone's priorities align. So one tool we use that I think helps us a lot is called monday.com and what is great about it is its web-based, so it's on any device, pretty much you need it to be on. It integrates with a lot of other tools we use like, Slack, email, HubSpot, what have you. And it's shareable so we can share it with our clients and they can see what the timeline and what a project looks like and even then share it internally, with their teams.

Steven Carter: Right.

Gretchen Elliott: I think another thing it's done really well is you can create a lot of different project structures within it. So a website project would look maybe really different from a marketing campaign. That's fine. You can make the board... They use what's called a board. You can put anything you need to on that board and it can communicate what you needed to for everybody else.

Steven Carter: And I think it's good for... One of the things that I like about us using monday is, it's great for our internal use but it's also great for keeping that communication ongoing with the client. So whenever they can have access to specific boards and see when deliverables are due and what those deliverables entail and things like that. And I've seen and noticed a lot of, I guess what we call scope creep be reduced in implementation of this concept.

Gretchen Elliott: Definitely. And I think it can help to for the people that we're working with, right. They have to get buy-in on their side sometimes and so it gives them the project plan and the timeline that then they can share on their side. So if somebody can ask, "Well why does that take so long?" And it's because really this one item has these 10 things that need to happen for it to truly be complete. So I think we've seen a lot of improvement in being able to communicate what really goes into a project.

Steven Carter: Sure, yeah. All those critical milestones are really up front for everybody to be on the same page.

Gretchen Elliott: Yeah. And you can even integrate your calendar and have all of the deadlines just pop right on your Google or your Outlook calendar.

Steven Carter: Yeah, it's good stuff.

Gretchen Elliott: So yeah, I don't think you can beat that.

Steven Carter: Yeah, it's pretty good. So I know you know, one thing that monday has actually talked about recently is kind of they're pushing this work operating system, or Work OS, and that's something that we've talked about previously as well, so kind of explain that. Can you elaborate on what a Work OS is and you know?

Gretchen Elliott: No, I think we were all really excited to see monday announce that they were kind of releasing this monday 2.0, that's a Work OS. And it solves the problem of, you can have one tool where a lot of things live, but maybe it doesn't do everything you need it to do or you're still doing a lot of things in kind of what we call this white space area, and it's not trackable, you can't automate it, no one knows you're working on it, but if you are working on it, clearly it needs to be done and has some sort of value. So I think what a Work OS does is it can bring everything into one ecosystem that your whole organization can be on and it can really streamline a lot of processes for everyone.

Steven Carter: Yeah, yeah, and that's really awesome. You know, I was kind of thinking about that in that white space and even just whenever we implemented monday in the beginning, a lot of that got reduced already. So I know they're making vast improvements on it with this 2.0 launch, but just the idea we were using some project management stuff, software, before and leaps and bounds different and better with monday. Even down to for my user experience side of it, being able to I guess mark tasks as waiting on more information from the client, or fixed, or completed, or I can assign almost like subtopics within each unique task to other people. It's even got places for files and the automation side with our support has been really crucial as well. So maybe do you mind elaborating on that a little bit, how that works?

Gretchen Elliott: Yeah. I think one of the key things we implemented as soon as we evaluated a lot of tools. I think it's important to remember that, we as a team thought about first what we needed in a project management tool so that we weren't really just sucked in by maybe something that looked pretty.

Steven Carter: Yeah.

Gretchen Elliott: And we looked at a lot of different tools.

Steven Carter: Because we'd been there and done that.

Gretchen Elliott: We'd been there and done that, yeah. And you know we had like five to 10 key things that we needed and monday.com fit the bill for that. So that's why we made that decision. One of those key things we needed is we wanted to have a way to track and automate support requests. So we have maybe key projects or clients that we're working with and then there's some projects that, again, we just continue to provide support after it launches. So if they want to call or email in, the support board basically allows that request to be added. We can mark its priority, is it critical, maybe not so critical? When is the deadline for it to be done and who owns that item? And what's great about that is now clients can just email us and it automatically creates that support request on our board.

Gretchen Elliott: We get a bunch of notifications, we all get an email, we get it in our Slack, we get a push notification, so we definitely see it. Then the right person knows to claim it, if they need to, and once it's complete an automated email goes to the client to let them know it's complete, so it closes that whole loop. And what we've been able to do as well is really see how much support we are providing and get some visibility into what kind of time those requests take.

Steven Carter: Sure, yeah, definitely, and that's, that's been a huge help around the office for sure. And making sure, I mean it's just, like you said, closing the loop and making sure things don't fall through the crack, that's the biggest part. And it all goes back to that client satisfaction and we want them to be happy.

Gretchen Elliott: I think it also gave us a little bit of our time back in the sense that if you do need to have a sick day or you're going on a trip or vacation with your family, that people have a way to get in touch with the whole team very easily. And it's just that catchall for no matter what you can call this number or email our support address.

Steven Carter: Yeah, that's very true. Awesome. Well thanks so much for talking to us about some of your project management skills. I think you've got a lot of them, obviously, but yeah, thanks for being here and talking to us for a few minutes and sharing your brain.

Gretchen Elliott: Thanks for having me Steven.

Steven Carter: Yeah, absolutely.

Steven Carter: Well, thanks guys. Have a great day and we'll catch you next week.