Guest Post by Erin Haworth, Tracking Wonder’s Systems Shark
The Remote Team’s Time Challenges
I’m fortunate to be Tracking Wonder’s operations manager and overseer of a dynamo team of remote contractors. It’s common for three or four team members to be working on one client’s brand story, strategy, website and online assets at any given time.
Projects like these require lots of coordination and lots of collaboration. But that’s not a simple task considering our team doesn’t work from a single brick-and-mortar studio. We need an entire team to operate on the same page even though we span 4 time zones, 6 states, and 2 countries.
Our projects also require we be responsive to each other and to our clients in a timely fashion. Again, not easy. But that’s what I do at Tracking Wonder – I track problems until I find a viable solution.
Last year it became clear that, we needed to implement a project management solution that provided clear timelines, easy internal team communication and team-client communication.
There’s an obvious growing trend in the digital workforce. FlexJobs reported that working remotely has grown 103% over the last decade, and FlexJobs CEO, Sarah Sutton Fell, projects that by 2020, 50% of the workforce will be part of a remote team.
Being a small team, we understand that each team member has finite stamina and time, so if we can systemize pieces of our processes, we can increase our efficiency and have the space to focus on the human messiness factor and client delight.
A motto of our team Code of Wonder is:
We aspire to create business systems that make everyone’s lives simpler by being mindful, precise, efficient, and relevant. We aim to scrutinize any technology or, for that matter, any personal habit inconsistent with this aspiration.
So we scrutinized.
Basecamp allowed for a smoother and more cohesive team experience for everyone. As a system it provided better project management allowing us to establish firm team deadlines, client deadlines and better communication and collaboration, which ensured projects stayed on schedule and scope.
Here’s the neat thing: Clients didn’t have to learn a new technology or have to remember another login.
There was another problem with our inefficiency.
As our solely reliant project management system for client projects and internal projects, I found that I was recreating the same to-do lists over and over again. Then, Jason Fried and his team at Basecamp released Templates for Basecamp 3 and it was a game changer.
Create a template once and reuse often.
This one may be obvious but worth mentioning. While building a template takes time on the front end, it saves loads of time once it’s created. While each client is different, many of the processes are similar from our team’s perspective.
Due dates for to-dos and events are relative
if Phase 1 always takes 3 weeks, you can plug in your start date and the project provides your project timeline. #clientdelight
Assign Team Members in Bulk
Our projects are usually divided into Phases dependent on which magician on our team is responsible for that phase. Quickly assign multiple to-dos to the same person with a few keystrokes.
Integration with your digital calendar of choice
I love my paper planner but I have GoogleCal for my work projects. Basecamp will automatically send my to-dos straight to my calendar so I can spend more time getting my work done rather than planning how to get my work done.
Room for improvement
There is no way to set recurring tasks within the same project easily. There are work-arounds but none that I have found that are faster than just creating the same task multiple times with different due dates. Wish list: a little check box and options to make a to-do repeat!
The result of Basecamp features
I save up to 2 hours saved on each project and ability to use those hours on higher cognition tasks. Plus, with an accurate timeline we are able to complete project on time or even ahead of time.
What features do you need to make a project management system work for you? What systems do you have in place to organize your remote team?