Utilize Cloud-Based Project Management Software to Keep Your Internal Team and Vendors Organized.
When developing your school marketing projects, it is important to have a clear strategy and tactical plan to execute. One of the best ways to manage these multiple projects and to assure you are on budget, on time, and on target is by leveraging a cloud-based software solution. Sometimes these are known as “Software as a Service” or SaaS solutions.
My kids started back to school this week. We have been busy getting organized…new folders, pencils, binders. It reminded me of all the attempts I have made during my career to get myself organized: the Franklin DayPlanners from the early 90’s. I then tried Levenger’s Circa System (which I still use to a degree). After reading Getting Things Done, I tried to leverage digital tools utilizing Evernote and OmniFocus, and have now settled primarily on Nozbe. Getting organized helps me be more effective.
It is the same with your marketing projects. You can’t expect to be successful in marketing your school without a plan and without the necessary tools to keep your team on task.
Over the past few years, Caylor Solutions has vetted several SaaS project management tools for ourselves and clients. The landscape is always changing, and we go through this process regularly, about every 12 – 18 months. But here is a list of what we have vetted, our thoughts, and where we have settled — at least for now.
Our Current System for Projects
With a virtual team around the globe, our requirements for a project management included cloud-based, easy to customize for our needs, accessible by everyone, and affordable. Here is where we have settled.
Basecamp is one of the most well-known project management softwares and has been around since 2004. It was cutting edge when first released, but has not had any significant changes for quite some time. It has a clean, intuitive user interface and anyone can jump right in and use it with little to no training. However, we find it lacking in several areas, including calendar features, task dependencies, and project and task templates, to name a few. We also found that for more complex projects, it just didn’t have the chops.
Having said that, it’s tough to beat for ease of use, and it is a great tool for team interaction. It keeps documents centralized for your whole team, as well as discussion threads and task lists. Basecamp can still serve your team very, very well for simple projects.
ProWorkflow: We just recently started using ProWorkflow (PWF) after vetting a number of different options mentioned later in this post. PWF started out as a downloadable software in 2002 and has evolved into a SaaS over the years. It is much more robust than Basecamp in its tasking abilities, allowing project and task templates (nice if you do the same types of projects over and over), task dependencies, and direct interface with Dropbox. We also like its customizable categories for projects and tasks.
For us, the deciding factor was PWF’s dashboard and the ability to view the status of every team member’s assignments across all projects, instead of those projects just existing in silos. While we anticipate continuing to use Basecamp for quick and simple projects, PWF has the power to handle larger, more complex projects more easily.
Dropbox: With more than 400 million registered users, it would be unusual if you have never heard of Dropbox. Dropbox is cloud file storage that works well for teams. Using its sharing features, you can collaborate and comment on files in the cloud. One really nice feature with Dropbox is the ability to send a link to anyone that will allow them to access files without logging in. This is especially nice for clients (in our case) or vendors.
As mentioned earlier, Dropbox interfaces with ProWorkflow directly, a very nice feature for our virtual agency model and style of working.
Zapier allows me to integrate the various softwares I use, even if they do not natively communicate with each other. For example, because I manage my personal tasks in Nozbe (see below), I have created a “zap” that sends my PWF tasks to Nozbe. Note that this will not work with every app, but only those that are Zapier-supported. However, with over 400 current apps, the list is pretty substantial and is growing all the time.
Nozbe is a simple task management tool, but is powerful and flexible enough to help keep me organized. As mentioned above, I also integrate it with ProWorkflow using Zapier. Nozbe also natively supports my other tools (Dropbox, Evernote, and Google Apps for Business).
Evernote: I use Evernote primarily as a repository or filing system for items I see across the web that I want to remember or return to later. Although I am still in the process of setting up the “filing” structure that works best for me, Evernote is easy to use and easy to share. I have a plug-in in my browser that makes it quick and easy to grab an article or blog and add it to Evernote. Evernote is also very searchable. On the down side, I have not found Evernote very useful for true collaboration.
Listed below are a number of different softwares that we have looked at but that did not necessarily suit our organization as well. However, they may be perfect for your needs. These range from task management to collaboration tools to true project management solutions. They are listed in alphabetical order with no order of preference.
No matter the size or complexity of your project or team, staying organized can help make your marketing projects more efficient, effective and enjoyable for everyone. No matter your budget or team size, there is probably a solution out there for you! Investing a little time to organize and choose the right tool on the front end will pay off in the long run.
What tool are you using to organize your school marketing projects? Post your comment below.