In today’s fast-paced technology-driven world, communication is a critical component of the potential success, or failure of a business. Communicating with clients in the most effective way possible and managing that communication is vital.
More than ever we’re bombarded with electronic messages and the need to manage these becomes increasingly more important. On any given day I receive anywhere between 100 and 200 messages (not including spam and newsletters etc), and this is a lot of information for someone to process, manage and deal with, some of you will receive more, some waaaay more and some less, but whatever you receive, it needs to be managed, and managed well or it will soon spiral out of control.
Obviously there are many ways to deal with the ever increasing volume of communication and we all have different ways of dealing with it. I certainly wouldn’t suggest one method is better than another – each to their own. I know there are many solutions, endless bits of kit to manage communications and any number of internal processes that companies use, but one thing I do know for certain is that carefully managing communications definitely improves the chances of my work being a success for my clients.
As a project manager it’s critical to the success of a project to communicate effectively and manage that communication in such a way as to keep it as simple as possible. I need clear communications, from running a project at the start before we’ve even put ‘pen to paper’, during the project when we’re doing the work, and right through to when the project is finished, and when we need to refer back to a particular project at a later date.
We use a project management tool which allows us to keep all communications on any particular project in one place, a place that’s easily accessible at any time. It allows us to keep discussions under specific milestones which in turn enables us to access messages instantly. It’s also easy for clients to use as they can reply to messages direct from their own email client without the need to log in to the system. If they want to refer back to previous discussions they too can login and find those discussions easily.
There are hundreds of tools out there to help you manage your communications, but the one we use is called activeCollab. It not only manages our communications, it also allows us to manage time on projects, tasks and people too. We know there are countless others out there (including Basecamp, Teambox, Huddle, So1o, Zoho and Producteev) – we’ve trialled a few and they’re all good, and some are better than others for particular tasks – but for us, activeCollab works and whilst it works for us we’ll continue using it.
I often wonder how we coped before we started using activeCollab but what I can remember is the chaos of scrolling through endless discussions trying to find the bit we wanted after searching for the right discussion in the first place. The only problem we have now is convincing clients to use it with us, but once they do they see the benefits too.