Web based team management is supposed to make life easier, right? All those calendars and to-do lists in one centralized place, everyone sending messages and communicating within the same platform, effortless brainstorming… Ah, yes, the magical land of project management utopia. Unfortunately, even the best web-based team management software can’t overcome user error. That’s especially true for unintentional mistakes that go overlooked until they’ve snowballed into bigger problems. Is your agency guilty of these mistakes? Here’s how to get back on track:
1. Creating by committee. Many project management software platforms provide one centralized online workspace for team members to brainstorm creative solutions to client problems. But five people sending out a list of 25 ideas each with no weight or priority can quickly turn into a time waste. When no one has authority to make a final decision – or worse, everyone thinks they do – chaos reigns. You could end up with a Frankenstein-like project that has a little bit of everyone’s vision but completely fails to solve your client’s problem.
Solution: Set clear parameters around team management. Solicit ideas online just as you would during an offline session (everyone meets in the online workspace at a specific time and brainstorms together) and then the project manager creates a single master plan with clear, executable deliverables.
2. Failing to set clear availability expectations. One of the upsides to web based project management is that anyone can post messages in the communal “workspace” or edit/re-assign tasks at any time. However, without setting proper expectations, this can quickly become a negative. Like 24/7 access to email via smartphones, 24/7 project management can burn out your team members and their fearless project leader! Sure, the big deadline may be less than two weeks away, but unless you’ve told team members that they need to be available nights and weekends, you can’t expect them to respond to your message in minutes. This is especially true if your team includes freelancers. Many writers and designers have designated “no distraction” times during their day where they silence the phone or turn off email notifications so they can focus on creative output.
Solution: Set clear expectations for response times to project messages and tasks. Understand freelancers are more affordable because they’re juggling multiple clients; respect their time and they’ll be respectful (and prompt) with yours.
3. Not providing sufficient training. Most web based management systems are fairly straightforward. However, don’t assume that just because a new team member has used a similar project management platform before they’ll pick this one up quickly. Every system has its own quirks, especially if the platform you’re using also includes time tracking or another means for recording billable hours. You may even need a few extra tutorials on how to best manage workflow or utilize project oversight functions.
Solution: Offer new members a short training demo or how-to lesson. Encourage members to come to you with any questions about the program’s features; there’s no shame in asking!