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Collaboration and work management tools bring success and sanity

Working for smaller companies most of my career generally meant that I didn’t get the bells and whistles that came with big budgets—namely tools. Management always took a large part of my days, from resourcing to program managing to budgeting. Excel can handle all of this, but it is painful to build out everything and difficult to create dynamic dashboards that provide the constant answers others needed. Its static, manual nature also left collaboration to a continuous barrage of meetings.

Now, there are cheaper tools available to SMBs to level this playing field and alleviate some of the project management pain. They truly are life changers and have made my job look very different. There are multiple options, but I am an avid proponent and heavy user of Asana—whether in a corporate environment, with clients, or even in my home life. These tools have given me back a work-life balance so I can spend my weekends in nature instead of staring at pivot tables! How did I achieve this you ask? I have one word: visibility. But let me elaborate with a few use cases.

Resourcing: If everything in business were linear, resourcing would be easy. However, when you have projects that stack, it can be difficult to plan for the road ahead, see risks quickly, or toggle schedules when one project falls behind. Asana provides me an easy way to see timelines for all my upcoming campaigns and projects in a cohesive view that I can then move around to quickly adjust or forecast impacts as needed.

Efficiency: Have you ever had a recurring project that seems to always fall behind? With Asana, I have a record of slippage and dependencies so I can figure out—with data—if there is a pattern. I can also use that same capability to find efficiencies.

Collaboration: You may be thinking that another communication tool to keep track of sounds like a nightmare. However, using Asana for collaboration is a winner because half those meetings you needed to “run a few ideas by the team” or check on a status can easily be done through the tool. It makes the day more productive and frees up meetings to be used for strategy and brainstorming instead of being stuck at a tactical level.

Taking this outside of the marketing team, I can give upper management or other departments visibility to my projects as well to prevent operating in a silo. When departments have to rely on each other for certain tasks or actions, a delay can cause a ripple. By creating accountability through visibility, it can take politics out of the workspace and create more trust between peers.

Here’s an example of what I mean. Let’s say you are creating a physical product. This product workflow has to involve product management, engineering, production, and marketing to bring it to market. All of these processes are very different, and this workflow has multiple cross-dependencies between departments. If every department has its own tool, language, and workflows then you are always comparing apples to oranges. If this product launches late and everyone is speaking a different language and looking at different things, then there is a high propensity for finger pointing. Alternatively, if everyone is on the same tool, looking at the same data, the experience would be completely different. Should something fall behind, everyone will see it, understand, and be proactive instead of reactive. As we all know, reactivity can lead to mistakes or eventually to much bigger consequences, such as employee dissatisfaction.

So if you are still spending your weekends staring at spreadsheets, you are a great candidate for a work management tool. I can assure you that investing the cost and time to set up a tool like Asana will be worth it.

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