When it comes to productivity in teams, choosing right tools (hardware, software) is important but right state of mind is even more important. This article will show how we combined those 2 together to make our company more productive.
In the age of thousands of productivity tools available, it is interesting how many organisations still use email for managing their tasks. Working in digital field from the beginning of my career, it was natural urge to always try to find hardware and software tools to improve performance of my team. You see, I am a big believer of a fact that there are many ways you can make a job done with less people if you set up processes right. It is the hard but when done right, it brings results.
3 years ago we were at beginning of our company journey. There were 4 of us in the team but we were managing the amount of work that is usually being done by 2 more people at least. We started searching for the ideal tool that can help us make the job done in a more productive way. I spoke to my friend friend Tomislav in Infinum – their company was building a project management tool named Productive – it was still in the early phase, with limited features, but it had projects, deals and contact management system. It was far from perfect but he told me their roadmap and we decided to take on Productive as testing agency, use it and provide feedback on the features in order for them to be able to improve and build the tool tailored for agency’s needs.
Productive team has built a tool because of Infinum’s own needs in search for better productivity options. Approach like that is easily to be seen from the side of many agencies and development companies – creating a product out of personal needs and scaling it across the industry.
I have to admit, in the beginnings it wasn’t easy to stick with Productive – we didn’t have a habit of making sure everything is regularly put into the system and it back then, system itself wasn’t the most intuitive thing. My team was struggling with some features or better say, lack of them. But even with this we’ve noticed how it helped us structure our projects and make sure we don’t loose any information.
We knew one thing – the more we force ourselves to use it, the easier it will be. And here is a thing – when it’s about serious work, tools usually aren’t as catchy as apps such as Instagram and Snapchat – they just aren’t because the nature of work isn’t as well. That’s why discipline is the most crucial thing you can have in the first few months – until it just becomes a routine.
3 years in and both we and Productive have came quite a way. The tool today is a full service productivity assistant we still use with some key features that are saving massive amount of our time and nerves. So here is how every of those features helped us become a better company and the amount of time it helped us save. Also, I will be showing you those through one of our productivity monster hardware tools – Dell XPS 13 and Windows 10 – that we recently upgraded our team with because the better machine you have, the more time you save as well. Especially if it comes with a touch screen, flip 360 display and stylus pen.
It works like a simple CRM. You bring in contacts and set roles for them. This way you can have overview of all your contacts, with notes and information, tag them to organise in a better way and even add them to projects when you want to involve them.
Time to find contact in email/business cards: 5 mins
Time to find contact in productive: 15 sec
Projects are the key part of Productive from it’s own beginnings. This is a central brain of our operations. They have task lists and tasks with schedules deadlines, they have budgets assigned based on proposals that are connected to time tracking and notes to make sure nothing important is left out. One of the cool features is locked tasks. It ensures only people that you add as subscribers on the task can see it – useful if you are collaborating with clients on projects. Also project templates-there are so many things in agency projects that is similar. From recently, we just created project templates and new projects are setup in the matter of minutes. Saves at least 45min-1h of project manager’s time.
Time saved by running projects within centralized system: 15% in comparison of not doing so
I call this one a bridge between proposals, project management and invoice. When you send a proposal and you get a deal and you celebrate – then it’s time to connect that proposal with a project. That’s what the budget is for. I call this one a bridge between proposal, project management and invoice. When you send a proposal and you get a deal and you celebrate – then it’s time to connect that proposal with a project. That’s what budget is for. It basically enables us to set up services that we can then track a time on and see by the end of a project how profitable or unprofitable was each part of it.
Tracking time in organisations like ours where creativity, innovation and strategy play a big part is sometimes really, really hard. On the other side, without knowing how much time you are spending on which project, and working days are in hours, how can you know which project is performing with profit and which isn’t? I have to say, we have had the most struggle with successfully implementing this feature for the upper reasons, mostly because it required a bit of change in the mindset. We managed to find a compromise where we do really focus on tracking all of the billable projects time wise, and partially it helps also to have some structured creativity processes with concrete time goals such as this – The creativity math.
After you get the job done, it’s time to do invoices. For us, with everything we are doing, it tends to be a bit of a chaos. We were spending so much time on creation of invoices manually, diversifying them by markets and it was really something that wasn’t making our life easy. Recently, we got a real time saver because Productive now enables us to go from finishing up the Project which has an assigned Budget to invoicing in one click and 2 mins of time. Sometimes you don’t know stuff can be easier until you try it. Something like a dryer – you wait for your clothes to dry for hours and are fine and frustrated at the same time, but when you try it – there is no way back.
Time saved: 30 mins per invoice
As a CEO, it is really important for me to have a wider perception of what is going on and how we, as a team, are performing as well as how some departments are doing. Are we distributing our time and energy to the right parts of the business. Sales and Profitability reports are really cool in showing me that. Being a visual person, I prefer images – so when I see a simple graph that shows me profitability/months, learning curve goes very fast. I believe that overall reports of business contribute to making better decisions on a short but also longer period forecasting levels.
Time saved: 1-2 hrs per report
Before we started using central productivity tool, we had bits and pieces of everything scattered around. We were struggling to find informations in email history and overall stuff was chaotic and possibilities of doing mistakes very quite realistic. Now, everything is a part of the same picture which saves us time, makes us think and plan differently, ensures better information flow and business growth. If you have similar challenges – pick a tool to help you, set it up and make it work for a month no matter what. After it becomes a routine, it shows you how much it truly is worth.
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