In my last article, I explained the need to manage your workflow. Whether you handle a few complex projects at a time, or a large number of small ones, you need a system.
Your system needs tools to function. Gone are the days when I tracked a job’s progress with a printed checklist. Welcome to the era of productivity apps. I’ve used a number of them over the years. Two in particular are Asana and Producteev.
Asana is free for teams of up to 15 members. Producteev (as of May) is completely free, regardless of team size. Both have the following features in common:
- Clean user interface
- Workspaces, Projects, Tasks, and Subtasks
- Assign tasks, add due dates, follow tasks, and track progress
- Unlimited projects
- Email notifications
- Turn emails into tasks
- Mobile app
Although Producteev is worthy of consideration, Asana has a couple features that give it a slight edge in my book.
First of all, I can associate different emails to each Workspace. That means I can use it for both company and personal projects. The co-workers I add to my company workspace cannot see my personal projects.
The second is the ability to create section header within a Project, Task, or Subtask, giving me the versatility to manage projects in a couple of different ways—One Project per Client, or One Task per Client. Let’s look at each.
One Project per Client
With this method, each client is self-contained within its own Project, which can be archived when finished.
As I mentioned earlier, Asana lets you create Section Headers within Projects. You’ll notice that I’ve made one for each production phase (i.e., Prep, Planning, Graphic Design, etc.) with the appropriate Tasks beneath each. Tasks can be checked off as they are completed.
The downside to this method is that you must create a new Project every time add a new client. However, creating a Master Project template that you duplicate each time can streamline this.
One Task per Client
With One Task per Client, each client is a separate Task under a single Project, such as “Web Production”.
In this scenario, you’ll see that I’ve created the same Section Headers as before, and placed each client Task beneath the appropriate production phase. As a particular client moves from one phase to the next, you can drag the client Task to the next Section Header. Only when a client makes its way through the entire workflow do you mark the Task off as complete.
If you still want to track each production step, you can create Subtasks within each client Task, and add Section Headers in the Subtasks.
In my experience, Method 1 works well when managing fewer, more complex projects; whereas, Method 2 is quick, effective to track large numbers of smaller projects. As always, your mileage may vary, so try each one to determine which works best for you.
Have a favorite project management app or workflow method? Post yours in the comments below.
Former owner and partner of web firm Jenesis Technologies, John is currently Director of Digital Strategy at Haines Local Search, a company providing local search marketing solutions to SMBs, including print and Internet Yellow Pages, web design, and local SEO. When not working or spending time with his family, John offers great sales and marketing advice on his blog, Small Business Marketing Sucks.