In 2014, Will Hall Online took on several new members of staff and undertook several of its biggest projects yet. It was an exciting year for the business, but was not without its challenges. One of the most significant of these was an ever-increasing administrative workload resulting from this growth.
To help manage our operations, we’ve adopted a range of technologies which help us to track the amount of time we spend on projects, communicate issues with clients, and maintain our social media presence. They’re now pretty central to what we do, so we thought we’d throw out a few thoughts on some of them to see how our experiences compare with others.
We’ve been using the time-tracking system Toggl for several months now, and decided we liked it enough to upgrade to the full, paid version.
- Very easy to use, with a simple interface and different coloured tags for each project.
- You can see how much time each member of the team has spent on each project. This really helps when it comes to assessing after each project whether you budgeted for enough time to complete it.
- Produces nice reports for various timescales.
- Easy to edit if mistakes are made, e.g. leaving it on all weekend. We really hope nobody is working 80 hour weeks!
- Can be a bit irritating if undertaking a succession of small tasks.
- Only as good as the memory of the person using it. Not a lot the people at Toggl can do about this though. They do send you emails to notify you if it looks like you’ve been doing the same task for ten straight hours…
Another oft-used service. Used to manage the company’s twitter account and those associated with our individual products.
- Handy for scheduling tweets to go out at intervals. You can compose (if that’s not too refined a word for tweeting) several at once and then TweetDeck sends them out for you at a scheduled time.
- You can see what’s afoot all over your Twittersphere at a glance, and interact with it through any of the accounts connected to TweetDeck.
- Doesn’t integrate with Facebook or Google+, which isn’t an issue for us because we don’t use those services. Anybody out there rate Hootsuite?
- Productivity can take a bit of a hit!
Not quite sure how to get the best out of this one. We find it quite useful for posting internal notes on various projects, and we’ve also tried to use it as a system for clients to raise issues and provide content, with varying degrees of success.
- Nice for putting notes in a place everyone with access can see them. Probably more efficient than emails.
- Also better than email for organising and sharing files and text.
- Flexibility of columns and labels make it easy to sort tasks and data. Notes can be assigned to particular users.
- You can make helpful checklists and easily see recent activity.
- Difficult to use to manage large projects as notes can easily get lost when there are large volumes.
- Some of our clients have felt a little uncomfortable using it. It seems that where people are used to using email they see this as an addition rather than a replacement for it.
More recently, we’ve been using Google Sheets to document issues with clients. It works in that everybody knows how to use a spreadsheet, but it could never be described as a perfect solution.
- Lots of info in a small space.
- Can colour code certain issues, or give each item an ID number.
- Can be shared with clients for them to add notes or log new issues.
- You can see recent edits and who is currently viewing the sheet.
- Can get rather unruly if not looked after carefully.
- Sometimes difficult to know who changed what and when.
- Relies on effective communication by email and phone alongside.
- Can’t manage files.
- Realistically can’t (or shouldn’t) be used for larger projects.
That will do to be going on with. There are loads of alternatives out there for all budgets; we’d love to hear what you’re using and how it works for you, either in the comments section below, or via twitter @willhallonline. If you’ve got anything more suitable we might jump on the bandwagon!