Implementing new communication tools

Over the last 12 months we have been experimenting with several new pieces of software to try and optimise studio communication and also provide some clarity to our processes when working on projects.

There are two elements we wanted to tackle; firstly task/project management and secondly team communications.

We already use Streamtime for our day to day time management, quoting and invoicing but found it didn’t seem to offer the extra tools that we need.

Everyone loves a ‘to do’ list


Trello

The first software we started trialing was Trello. In essence, it is a collaboration tool that organizes your ‘stuff’ into boards. In one glance, it tells you what’s being worked on, who’s working on what, and where something is in a process.

What’s good?

  • Trello is really open ended so you can customise it to fit your specific needs and processes. You can make it really simple or bespoke to a project, user or even like a day’s itinerary.
  • It excels as a To Do list, which has made it stick with some team members for personal use.
  • The recent Calendar Feature is great for planning content for websites or social channels. This was only recently added and will definitely be useful going forward.
  • It’s free, so there was no pressure on us to make the best use we could from it.

What’s bad?

  • Trello is really open ended! This means you can spend a lot of time procrastinating about how best to use it.
  • Making sure people use it, although as mentioned we discovered Trello can work on a personal level and doesn’t rely on whole team sign up.

Overall it was good but limited for managing projects. We needed a bit more, the ability to track conversations, check lists and assets and so we trialled Basecamp.


Basecamp

Basecamp is an online collaboration and project management tool. It has been recently re released as an all new version 3 so our thoughts are based on the previous incarnation.

What’s good?

  • Extensive features, it really could do pretty much anything you could want. This was also a bit of a bad point initially!

What’s bad?

  • Sometimes a bit confusing to try and use it effectively due to the amount of functionality available
  • The monthly charge meant that we needed to be using it otherwise we were wasting money
  • It needs 100% buy in really as there is no point having half a project run through it and the rest on emails or traditional channels. This is more an organisational issue than the software itself though.

Team Communication

Slack

We had set up a Slack account a while ago but as can sometimes be an issue there wasn’t the expected take up by the team internally. This is to be expected as creating change in an organisation can be hard.

Thankfully a new stream of work brought us together with a client who was really keen to use Slack as the comms tool for the projects, this was just the thing we needed to get us all on board.

What is Slack?

Slack brings all your communication together in one place. It’s real-time messaging, archiving and search for groups and teams. It has a range of integrations that make it a great hub for discussion.

What’s good?

  • Transparent client communication which means people can carry a conversation with the client in someone’s absence.
  • Animated Gifs – who doesn’t like using them to convey emotion!
  • Good history trail of conversations

What’s bad?

  • Can be distracting if there are several lines of conversation going on at once.
  • Could be expensive in a larger agency although so far this has not been a problem
  • If you don’t stay on top of channels you can arrive back to a huge thread of discussion which can take a while to catch up on!

Should I stay or should I go?

Some of these tools have been harder to become standard practice but the elements that have stuck but do seem to have improved our efficiency and the way we work together generally.

Although the whole team didn’t get on with Trello, it has found it’s place for certain jobs and some members of the team use it to manage their workflow. The addition of the calendar feature will actually make it a great tool for planning content creation especially our social/blog work.

Basecamp fell by the wayside mainly because it really needed a company wide buy in. With some of the team using it and some not it didn’t justify the monthly cost. It’s feature set was great though and the release of Basecamp 3 may well be worth a revisit.

Slack has proved really useful and will definitely stick around at Imaginate. The tie in with one of our main clients has made the transition really easy and the web team are making great use of it to share tips ideas and links. The screenshare integration with Screenhero makes it a really great tool for project communications and definitely offers a more integrated experience than email.

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Sush Kelly,
Digital Director, Imaginate

 
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