It can be hard work to finally create a team that balances the right skills and knowledge. Once you’re in that situation, you might feel that the battle is won. However, one of the next big tasks is to ensure that the team is running seamlessly. Luckily for you, there’s a bunch of free tools that can help you achieve this status.
Having a project management tool isn’t necessarily useful for a short, one-off project, for you could spend more time getting it set up than actually asking your team to get a job done. However, if you’re in business for the long run and you’re consistently going to be reliant on different team members for different things, then utilizing something like Trello can boost productivity levels considerably. It works by using the following main features:
A board is your starting point. Let’s take the example as if you are managing a team of writers, and so you could have a board for each writer. You can then create lists on that board for different stages of the writing journey. For instance, list headings could be:
- Being written
- Writing complete
- Editing complete
- Submitted to customer
This is a very general list, but it should give you an idea, and you can obviously tailor it as you see fit—and it can always be changed; nothing is ever set in stone in Trello.
Cards can be used in the sense of each card can be a piece of written content. For example, say you need an article written on testing software. You can name the card with an internal reference for ease; so you could call it “AB1—testing software.” Referring back to our list’s headings, when the brief is completed, the card remains in the “Briefed” list, and the team member’s username can be tagged in the card. Each person that is responsible for each stage (list) of the process can move the card along to the next stage and tag the appropriate person. Trello offers up greate transparency and is very simple, and the best bit about it is it’s free. It does have a premium function for you to use more bells and whistles, but they aren’t needed to run a team effectively.
While Google Docs doesn’t have all the functionality that Microsoft Word does, it does have the added benefits of being completely free, and that it encourages team collaboration much more easily; primarily because it serves as being a shareable document first and foremost due to it being web-based.
You can have multiple users working on the same document at the same time, which can cause confusion, however, what it does do is allow you to see historical versions and the changes made by each collaborator. If you were looking at Trello for project management, Google Docs integrates incredibly well by allowing you to attach a file to a card within a couple of clicks. The permission side of Google Docs is exceptionally impressive, allowing the document owner to invite those team members who need to have an input into the document. Google Docs’ voice typing tool can be quite hilarious, but it’s also a great function to use to improve productivity. Just be sure to focus on your elocution; otherwise, you might end up with text that appears to have no relation to what you were trying to say (so be sure that your work is proofreader!)
For a team to work seamlessly, communication has to be top of the priority list—it can be the downfall, if it’s lacking, but can also be an invaluable asset. Slack is an excellent communication tool that can be used on multiple devices, allows you to have different channels for different teams and topics, and integration with other apps—some notable apps being Google Drive, Trello, and Skype. It’s no coincidence that I’ve featured all of these in this article—they integrate well and form a powerful team in themselves. Other popular apps include Twitter, Dropbox, Microsoft One Drive, and Asana.
Skype deserves mention due to it being the old-timer of the communication tools brigade. Compared to Slack, I would say it is more limited in its functionality, but it does allow you to share screens with other team members, which you can’t do in Slack; nor can you voice conference in Slack. So there is some form of crossover between these two and can be used in conjunction for different purposes.
WordPress is an interesting mention in this list since it isn’t thought of as being a tool for team management. With the right product plugins, however, it can serve to be quite a useful collaborative piece of equipment. You can have all of your team members being able to access your site—as long as it’s built on WordPress—and collaborating through its various features; one of the most powerful of these being the blog.
You can also use WordPress to assign different roles to different team members at stages in a process. For example, say you’re using WordPress for a blog, and you allow guest posts, anyone can register with WordPress for your site, create and submit a guest post, which can then be reviewed by a team member for niche relevancy. This can then be passed on to a proofreader, who can then pass it on for editorial review, who can then finally pass it on to the final team member for scheduling.
You are most likely going to get better functionality from paid tools and pieces of software. However, if you’re a small outfit or a start-up, then the above 5 can go a long way in assisting that your teams’ productivity levels start high and remain that way throughout the journey. You won’t lose out by using these and will find excellent back-end support since they are all popular and well-established products in the market.
Karen Evans is a former college student who, after making real money learning how to build and scale niche blogs, decided to go full time and hasn’t looked back since.After seeing so many people waste time and money trying to learn how to create websites that make money she decided to create the ever-popular StartBloggingOnline.com.So far over 9,500 new blogs have been created using her guide!When she isn’t blogging, she enjoys spending time with her family, which usually involves finding some water to cool off in!