There is nothing more frustrating than spending time revising a document and emailing your feedback to your team only to discover seconds later that another person was doing the exact same thing at the exact same time. Version control is such a vital piece of group projects and manually reconciling different versions is a huge time suck. With offices in Seattle and D.C., and clients located around the country, our team has mastered the art of collaboration from a distance. Plus we are all tech junkies and love trying out new tools! Here are three of our favorite collaboration tools that help our team and clients communicate, stay accountable and deliver on expectations.
- Microsoft OneNote for client or team brainstorms and meetings – This dynamic tool allows users to type notes like normal, but provides the freedom of formatting them similar to how we would hand written notes. When tasks are assigned and brainstorms are buzzing, note takers can tag line items using keyboard shortcuts to flag any call-to-actions or follow-ups, questions, or key messages so they are easy to find later. At RH we love the use of infographics to share our client news and this tool allows our team to drop in drafts of the image and jot down edits anywhere on the page so each comment can be easily associated to the correct piece of the image. And after those big planning sessions OneNote makes it incredibly easy to attach meeting details and even audio recordings of the meeting right into the document for easy reference. All notebooks sync to the cloud so team members can access the page to revise or refer to at any time.
- SmartSheet for project management – Our clients have incredible innovations in their fields and our team works with them to implement a variety of tactics to support big announcements. In essence, SmartSheet is a master project tracker that can be used to track progress against individual tactics, action items, project owners, deadlines and status indicators. Deadlines often shift when you have numerous moving parts and the beauty of this program is that when you adjust one deadline it will automatically adjust each dependent activity and timeline nested below it. And all updates are reflected in real-time so multiple people can access a document and make updates during meetings. This program can also automate email reminders, push out group notifications and share updates at specified intervals to the people who need to know.
- Google Drive for storing and sharing your documents – PowerPoint is a great tool for presentations and Excel is often used to track data and results, while Word is the gold standard for written document development. Google Drive allows users to create their original documents in their favorite programs and then upload them to the cloud where they can be shared and downloaded by parties anywhere, which cuts down on clogged email storage space. Cloud storage has been around for a while now, but what makes Google’s cloud storage tool different is that it also has the ability to import and export documents into its own versions of Word, PowerPoint and Excel. This allows native PowerPoint presentations to stay formatted but convert it into a version that is hosted in the cloud and can then be edited by approved users anywhere without anyone having to download a thing.
These are just three of the many tools that help keep the RH Strategic teams in sync, manage our clients’ projects and meet deadlines. They help us manage the flow of emails and facilitate collaboration across geographies. Hopefully one – or all three – of these can help you manage your next group project.