3 Productivity Apps that will Transform your Work Flow
Working in a digital marketing agency can be hectic. Numerous projects on the go, all with deadlines yesterday. Continuous client projects and conversations to keep up with on multiple channels, not to mention needing to keep a group of creative powerhouses organised.
For all startups and established businesses, getting the most out of every second is vital to success. Here at MySocialAgency, productivity is something we are continuously looking to improve. Our software inventory is pretty huge and we do regular reviews of the productivity apps that make our company tick.
We love apps that can make our lives easier, so over the past 6 months we broke down all our processes and looked for amazing apps that could not only improve our company, but make us double awesome at our jobs (that’s twice as good as single awesome).
Analysing our Company Process
Before we started choosing our productivity apps, we broke our company down into three key areas:
Customer relations – This is the entry point for new clients into the company and the process that keeps existing clients happy. It encompasses lead generation, sales and account management, with a little project management thrown in.
Project management – This is the most vital part of the company, as without successful and well managed projects there is little to hold the other processes up.
Time tracking – The bridge between project management and accounting is time tracking. It is a vital component in ensuring both the clients and the agency are getting the most out of their projects.
Once we had analysed the company process, we decided what our priorities were when it came to the apps. The key things we were looking for were –
Simple interface – Our previous project management software was a pure nightmare (it’s staying nameless!). It was hard to use, clunky and had a ugly old user interface.
Accurate – Goes without saying. It takes a long time to load client/project data into productivity apps, so once the data is in, you don’t want it going anywhere!
Avoid one size fits all – This was what we viewed to be the main problem with our old software. It tried to do too much. You would think that having just one app for a CRM, list building, time tracking and invoicing might make your life easier. It didn’t. It did the lot, but wasn’t very good at any of it!
Connectivity – Using apps for different processes can result in the duplication of simple tasks, such as entering in customer/project details. Luckily, the companies developing productivity apps realised this and by making APIs available, now allow other apps to hook into them.
Now the fun part started. We trawled the net and tried out as many apps as possible. Each app was given a set period of time to bat its eyelids at us and get us to take it home. This time period ranged from one day to several weeks, depending on its potential to wow us.
The Productivity Apps
After a long testing period, we decided on the following apps:
Highrise is unbelievably simple. Where industry standard CRM systems such as Salesforce can be overly complex, Highrise makes things easy.
Our main reason for grabbing a CRM was for the usual basics. We needed a central point for all our contacts details and also an easy way for staff to access them. This doesn’t just relate to clients. We also log all contractors and content marketing contacts within the app.
With a very straight forward interface, Highrise allows us to keep track of contacts from the moment we first speak, all the way through our relationship. With useful group collaboration features it also allows us to see who is selling the most and who has been talking to who, in order to avoid unorganised conversations with clients.
One very cool thing we found about Highrise, is that it has a Gmail connector provided by Collabspot, which allows you to add to the CRM directly from your inbox and easily attached emails to clients/projects. Bonus!
Harvest (Time Tracking)
Time tracking is vital to our agency. Anyone in our industry who is not accurately logging time is missing out and Harvest makes things unbelievably simple.
As soon as you mark a deal as “accepted” in the Highrise CRM, it allows for easy transfer of clients details and project details into Harvest.
Once transferred, all that is required is a quick check to allocate projects to the correct staff members and we are ready to go.
You can literally set a project up for time tracking in 30 seconds in Harvest, which is a massive bonus for us. While this aspect of the app is simple, the reporting features are very powerful. Running one of several reporting options allows you to see who did what and when – something clients really appreciate in their time reports.
Harvest also has a great Chrome extension, which means you can log time directly from your browser without needing to access the app.
Asana (Project Management)
Staying on top of who needs to do what, and when, is one of the most important tasks in our company.
Imagine if you have spent several months developing a website with three or four people from the client side sending over comments and alterations on multiple emails. This can get really confusing and time consuming, having to make sure the right person knows when they need to act.
Asana eliminates this entirely. Entries are logged and assigned to different users in a list style format. Deadlines can be set and comments can be made on each entry.
One thing we have found really beneficial, is allowing clients into a private section of our workspace. This completely eliminates the need for emails, as clients can log comments and issues in the style of a support desk and easily keep track of where we are at.
Asana is not perfect, and the hybrid mobile apps are poor considering this really should be a mobile focused app. The user interface is also quite confusing, but there is an awful lot of information included as well as multiple ways to view your tasks (list, calendar etc).
Despite the glitches, after trying several project management apps, Asana is by far the best. It also integrates with Harvest so time can be tracked straight from each task, in keeping with our needs of having a group of apps that integrate with each other.
The benefits from implementing this system have made a big difference to our company process. Best of all, we are now much more organised as a team, with one centralised group of apps that corresponds directly to our key processes.