Project management tools that make our agency work smoothly

It’s a whole new year, which means it’s the perfect time to get organised and on track with all your projects for the upcoming year. In this blog, we’ll be talking about what project management tools we’ve used and which ones were the most useful to our team. We hope this helps you start the year off on a coordinated foot. 

When we started Metric Labs, we all had experience with a variety of different project management tools at our previous agencies. We didn’t love any of them. So we set out to build our own processes that would make it easy for us to deliver great work for our clients, smoothly. 

We knew that easy communication was key. With Stephen, our SEO director, living the dream and working remotely from Vietnam, Slack was an obvious essential. It allowed us to speak directly to Stephen, make calls, and share files and screenshots easily. 

Two examples of what we use Slack for:

1. Internal chat – where we can send images, documents, links, and more.
2. Group conversations – which we divide by projects.

Managing collaborative projects, where you have separate, highly specialised teams, is a challenge many businesses face. We needed something that let everyone see briefs, and collaboratively progress on the job, whether it was text, visuals, or something else. 

Some of us had previously used Trello, but not everyone loved its UX as it could get messy quickly without proper maintenance. Some of us had also used Basecamp, but it was a bit complicated, and you needed a lot of clicks to get to files and tasks. We were a small company, so we didn’t need anything crazy. We’d also been in places that relied on emails, spreadsheets, and hand-written to-do lists. As a digital agency, we knew we definitely wanted to avoid this. 

We needed something that offered transparency and flexibility. We wanted to keep track of our progress, be able to share rich media, and keep multiple people informed simultaneously. We trialled Asana and loved it. The interface is easy to work in and is much more attractive than the other options we’d seen. Our team feels comfortable working with Asana, as it has great capability for linking tasks, notifying people and adding files. Plus, it gives you lots of different possible views for projects, such as lists, boards, and calendars. For us, this is an amazingly useful tool that we’ll continue using!

See some examples of what we do with it:

We create tasks, set due dates, and assign people tasks. For every task we can add text, links, images, videos, files, etc. This is really useful because you never lose the infomation on each task. 

We’ve put together a handy list of pros and cons for these tools below.

Asana

Pros: 

  • Nice design and we love the little animations when tasks are completed.
  • Customization allows an easy task management and tailoring to your organisation’s needs.
  • Asana gives you the ability to share and assign tasks, deadlines, notes, and projects with team members.
  • Asana shows due dates.
  • Being able to see everything in one place helps to better prioritize tasks and make sure nothing slips through the cracks.
  • The user interface is great – it’s really easy to jump in and start using it, and then gets better with all the amazing features in it.

Cons:

  • Slack channels allows things to get easily lost, as team members comment and change the subject important pieces of information can get buried before everyone gets to see it.
  • Network connection problems can make communication really hard.
  • Due to device priority, some time you can lose important information while having Slack open in more than one device at the same time.
  • The free version does have a few limitations. 

Pros: 

  • Slack allows you to send files, GIFS, video, have team video calls and create chat channels for teams. 
  • When sharing links, there is an option to display rich content previews.
  • The customization is endless. 
  • It is incredibly powerful even as a free version. And once you unlocked the paid version, you will have access to all the archived files, this is next level.
  • Slack gives you the ability to add certain people to certain channels.
  • Slack software is great for audio and video calls.
  • Instant transferability between devices, customizability and integration with other interfaces. 
  • Slack is incredibly easy to learn and get used to. 
  • The SlackBot, can be helpful to set reminders and integrates with other tools to send updates on any comments, changes, etc.

Cons:

  • Slack channels allows things to get easily lost, as team members comment and change the subject important pieces of information can get buried before everyone gets to see it.
  • Network connection problems can make communication really hard.
  • Due to device priority, some time you can lose important information while having Slack open in more than one device at the same time.
  • The free version does have a few limitations.

Pros:

  • It is really easy and simple to use, and clean user interface.
  • It helps organize tasks efficiently.
  • Customize columns, for example; “To Do, Doing, Waiting on Feedback, Done, etc”.
  • Add labels for color-coding your cards.
  • Cards can be assigned to someone individually or to a group. 
  • Stay updated on any activity via email updates, if desired. 
  • Images and files can be added directly to your teammates, where they can comment, suggest edits, and have a database of files to refer back to, if needed.
  • It has good integration with google docs.
  • The ability to see all your tasks allows you to prioritize and organize what to accomplish. 
  • The calendar plugin is very helpful.

Cons: 

  • Non-ability to view different boards at once.
  • Needs better search feature.
  • The user needs a bit of a learning curve.
  • It would be nice to have a button that condense​s everything down so you can see more of your list at once. We found ourselves scrolling a lot, or even shrinking our screen size down to get an overview.
  • No spell check. 
  • The storage is limited, which makes it hard to work on large projects, and may take some time to upload files. 
  • No offline version.
  • No ability to set a time-stamp on a project, outside the calendar feature.
  • No messaging function, only comments.

Now, after reading this blog, which one are you going to choose? Let us know in the comments below what you’ve used and are currently using! 

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