By Ron Rosenberg
We have customers and prospects that we work with, action items from meetings, and complicated projects that involve a mix of in-house and outsourced staff.
Over the years, we’ve tried several solutions ranging from free desktop applications to complex web-based systems, and just about everything in between.
Nothing has really fit our needs perfectly until we discovered Wrike (www.qualitytalk.com/wrike). In fact, it was our “web guru”– who himself manages multiple concurrent projects–who turned us on to it.
A Simple “Action-Item” List for Starters
It seems simple enough–an e-mail comes in from one of our members asking for a reminder of their membership-site password. No problem, we send it out immediately. But the message also contains a question, “Is there a way to add a password reminder feature with the ability to change the password to the site?”
Those are really good suggestions, but what do we do with them? If we put them on the calendar, we’ll end up pushing them forward, and forward again... probably never actually getting to them.
If we put them in some kind of “tracking spreadsheet” that’s likely where they’ll sit indefinitely.
With Wrike, using the “List View” (below), we’re able to add them to a “Feature Request” folder, designate them as “active” or “backlogged,” assign the task to a specific person, and note a target date.
Share and Share Alike...
But what if I need to assign an item to our Web Team? They’re responsible for completing it, but I’d also like to know what’s going on along the way.
That’s no problem with Wrike. It allows you to give different people access to individual folders. (See below)
And if you use the "@notification" feature when adding notes, as in "@Ron Rosenberg - I updated this file - can you review it?" - it flashes the message on my screen, and adds it to a special area on my Wrike Desktop where I can see all notes specifically addressed to me.
Sharing Important Documents
But there's usually more than just notes and descriptions that are needed to work on and complete tasks - more often than not, there are actual documents associated with these tasks.
No worries here, because Wrike lets you attach documents to task entries by uploading the actual files, or including links to files stored on your Google Drive cloud-storage space.
And, in the case of Microsoft Office files, there's even a plugin that let's you directly open the file from inside Wrike, modify it, and save it, as simply as if you were doing it from a local drive.
Plus, it also keeps previous versions on hand in case you ever need to revert to an old copy for any reason.
Process? What Process?
In a business as complex as ours, having clearly defined processes is essential. We previously used another software package to store and manage our processes, but then realized that we could use Wrike for this as well.
Since then, Wrike, and our CRM software, Infusionsoft, are the "one-two punch" that helps us run our business effectively.
What About Gantt Charts?
If you were paying attention during your Operations Management class, you might remember working with Gantt charts. These let you show the individual tasks in a project, while giving you the ability to incorporate dependencies. (Task B can’t start until Task A is completed.)
Wrike gives you the ability to display your tasks in a Gantt-chart format (below) and even lets you see a resource-loading view to make sure you’re not scheduling five days of work into one day’s time.
But I Need a Reminder!
No problem: Wrike includes a Dashboard that can be customized and provides an at-a-glance view of your most relevant tasks.
And it even has plug-ins for Outlook and Gmail that let you seamlessly convert individual e-mail messages into Wrike tasks.
We use this software in our business and see the benefits in terms of increased productivity. More importantly, is the fact that we’re not having important actions “fall between the cracks” causing us headaches and embarrassment.
And, in case I forgot to mention it, the basic level of Wrike is free, so you really should take a look.
You can get a free trial of the full version at this link and see for yourself: www.qualitytalk.com/wrike.