Finding the right tools for online project collaboration and new ways to efficiently handle clients is something I continuously investigate. Handling multiple clients, multiple projects for each client, fellow consultants in far away lands, and my desire to save time, I need more than just email to collaborate effectively. The problem I come across is that I sometimes spend more time figuring out how to use my “time-saving” products than if I did everything the “old school” email way.
(Quick tangent: I like how email alone is almost considered a thing of the past. The times they are a-changin’.)
I will spare you the tools that I wasted time on and cut to the good stuff. The first tool I used for business collaboration with my clients was Google Docs. I started with my basic Gmail account and then started using it with my Google Apps business account. Some of my favorite aspects are how simple it is to use from the onset (seemingly a Google staple with their simplicity), the fact that multiple users can edit the same document in real-time, and that most people I work with have at least a basic Gmail account. Plus, it is completely free. It is hard to complain about that in early small business stages.
Shortly after this, a friend of mine suggested I check out Ping.fm and HootSuite. If you are not familiar with either of these, here is a quick breakdown. Ping.fm is great tool to blast out one message across all of your Social Network sites with the click of a button. You just link each account with your Ping.fm account and you are done. HootSuite can be used in a similar fashion, but you get the ability to schedule future posts and it has a built-in URL shortener that also tracks basic analytics. On top of that, you can link HootSuite with Ping.fm so you can schedule future posts across all platforms and track them. That is how you collaborate efficiently with Social Media.
Fast-forward several months and I saw my workload and client list growing faster than my email, Google Docs, and Social Media shortcuts could handle alone. I needed something to ease my ability to collaborate on larger projects proficiently and not waste a lot of time learning the product of choice.
This brings me to Mavenlink. With Mavenlink, I can better manage my projects with real-time messaging feeds, attach documents, and accept payments via PayPal, among other features all online. Plus, you can receive extremely quick and detailed feedback from their support and everything is integrated with Google Apps. This means that another pair of my online tools are now working together: HootSuite with Ping.fm and Mavenlink with Google Docs.
My collaboration tools are collaborating together. I’ve had nothing to do with it, but I like the direction things are heading. Make my life easier. Automate the mundane. Work seamlessly.
I am now new school! Well, at least that is what I am telling myself…
posted by Taylor Miles