As you know, we are a digital agency that deals with web, design & marketing; in any given day we can have a silly amount of tasks to complete. Not only do we have to complete tasks, but we also need to manage, schedule and tick them off when complete.
In this post, I want to share with you our current workflow to achieve the above, the best points about our workflow are;
- It’s free
- Some of it’s automated! (Every one likes automation right?)
We really think this could help some businesses improve their productivity.
Let’s take a look.
Here’s how our current workflow looks.
Let’s look at each of these tools and how we get them talking to each other, minimising the time we have to spend at each stage.
Let’s start with email. We use Thunderbird by Mozilla, it’s free and open-source (which means lots of developers make great add-ons for it). Essentially, it’s a lightweight Outlook; perfectly adequate for most small/medium size businesses.
On an average day this is where the majority of our tasks come through. It’s never a good idea to keep all your todo’s cluttering up your inbox, plus who else knows about them? A good team shares responsibility and has a grasp on what everyones working on. This is where Trello comes in…
For those of you that may not have heard of Trello, it’s a free web-based management app. Trello uses the kanban principle for managing projects, originally popularised by Toyota in the 1980s. Projects are represented by boards, which contain lists. Lists contain cards (which are essentially tasks). Cards progress from one list to the next (via drag-and-drop), for instance mirroring the flow of a feature from idea to implementation. Users can be assigned to cards. Users and boards can be grouped into organisations.
One of the most under used features of Trello is the email address that gets automatically assigned to a board/project. What this allows us to do is email a task directly to Trello straight from our inbox. The way we do this is by saving the project email address in our Thunderbird address book with a nice and easy contact name. In this instance (see screenshot) we use the name “FBFF Timesheet”. When one of the nice team at FBFF email us a task, all I have to do is forward the email to “FBFF Timesheet”. The email appears as a card on the project board. Neat right?
Here’s where it gets even better, if you pop in a description of the task and someones username into the subject field of your forwarding email, it will automatically create a card with that description and assign it to that person!
Here’s an example subject line: Edit text on Contact page @Jonny.
Now we have a card with the email in the body, a unique description and it’s assigned to someone in your team. WIN.
Ah, Teamweek, the glorious Gannt chart web app. Again, it’s free.
Teamweek provides a visual look at who’s working on what in real time. See who’s available and schedule projects for both the short- and long term. It’s easy to use and perfect for planning.
Now that we have our project task in Trello, how do we go about scheduling that task, say for next Monday? We could assign a date to the task in Trello, which would be ok, but, we want to be able to see all of our upcoming tasks across multiple projects at a glance. This is where we use Teamweek, which allows us to assign a task to someone in what is essentially a linear calendar.
We love automation, so let’s look at how we get Trello to talk with Teamweek.
There’s a wonderful Chrome extension called Teamweek Button which allows you to add tasks to Teamweek directly from Github, Trello and GitLab. In this instance we’ll only be using it from Trello. Once you’ve installed the extension you get this neat little button inside your cards on Trello.
Now we can push a task straight out to Teamweek, assigned with a user, date, time and project.
So far, we’ve forwarded an incoming email straight Trello and then pushed it out to Teamweek in a few clicks. WIN.
Slack is a fantastic team messaging app, again it’s free and it has tons of integrations with other apps.
We have Slack running all the time in our office, it allows us to ping each other files, send messages and sometimes harass each other. It’s great.
Why did I mention Slack at all? Well, once someone has completed a task, wouldn’t it be great if it popped up as a message in Slack?
This is what happens in our office. We use Zapier (Connects the apps you use and automates tasks) to make Trello to talk to Slack. I’m not going to go into the setup of Zapier here (jump to their site to see how it works, it’s fairly straight forward). But, essentially, once someone’s completed a task, a message pops up in Slack that let’s the team know it’s complete!
There are so many great integrations to be found, a little bit of patience and setup is all it takes. For example, we have apps like Google Calendar and StatusCake notifying us of new events in Slack, allowing us to practically see everything from a glance from with one app.
I hope this picture of our workflow has somehow given you some insight into how teams like ours work and maybe it well help your team as well.
Perhaps you have some suggestions or an awesome workflow you already use? Please share them with us below!
You can follow our co-founder and creative director Jonny on Twitter for more ramblings and tips about business and design here. @jonnypathan
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