Productivity tools are absolutely critical.
Oracle reports that the average professional might only spend 10% of their work day on actual task-related work. The other 90% can be dedicated to task transference, the concept of moving work throughout a work flow. In an agency or corporate setting, this can be related to waiting on task clarification, gaining approvals, or organization challenges.
While it's unlikely you'll ever become productive to the point you're 100% dedicated to task production, especially if your work involves creative aspects like most inbound marketers, you can become more productive. And this is where tools are critical. The right tools remove ambiguity from complex processes, allowing professionals to get started and finished much quicker.
In this blog, you'll learn a bit about the various types of tools that agency and corporate professionals can use to significantly streamline their processes and typshare organized. We'll also share a bit of insight into some of the IMA team's favorites:
1. Work Management/Project Management Software
Project management software has it's fair share of detractors, many of whom feel that it's so cumbersome to manage that it can quickly become inefficient. The trick here is to find a tool that's exactly no more complex than what you need. If your business needs something light and nimble for basic processes like Basecamp and you're working off Atlassian's heavy-duty Jira for complex software engineering portfolios, it can become a time-drain to manage and monitor. Pick the nimblest solution you can, dedicate someone to managing the software, and you'll see immense benefits.
PM software is especially useful if your team involves remote members, contractors, or freelancers, who may not report to daily meetings or work typical 9am-to-5pm hours. Some options are listed below:
The IMA team works off Basecamp, which offers flexibility and ease-of-use!
2. To-Do List Software
If your business is slow to embrace PM software or has a fair amount of "hot jobs," to-do list management software might create additional transparency between busy professionals. It's always optimal to centralize your solutions as much as possible. If you're confident you're working towards better utilization of a PM program, you might not want to enforce task management software.
On an individual level or in settings that aren't quite ready to embrace a full task management software, to-do list programs can be the next best thing.
Remember the Milk
While many of the IMA team members embrace the to-do list, our primary priority management duties occur via Basecamp.
3. Performance Management/Time-Tracking
Time tracking software is another productivity tool that receives an unfair amount of negative attention. For most businesses, asking employees to track their time isn't a function of wanting to closely monitor productivity to ensure 100% utilization. It's about understanding processes, getting sufficient data to help employees work towards better efficiency, and having enough data to maximize revenue and business profitability.
Managers can find that the insights in time tracking data allow them to hire more effectively, sell more of the company's most profitable service lines, and provide more accurate deadline estimates to clients. All of these things can lead to internal and external satisfaction metrics rising.
Additionally, many online project management solutions are increasingly offering time tracking and timesheet functionalities!
The IMA team is tracking time on Forecast, which offers convenient integration with Basecamp for task-based analysis. However, we've also used Toggl!
4. Editorial Calendar Management
Most major content marketing programs incorporate a high volume of contributors. They may encompass several internal contributors, external freelancers, and curated content. Approval processes can range from content needing to pass through a single employee assigned to editing, to complex workflows that run through the company's risk management department.
Regardless, editorial calendars are absolutely critical. The best solution here is one that you'll use consistently. It needs to scale with your growth if you're considering creating more content in the year to come. Increasingly, organizations are choosing to consolidate campaigns, blogs, and social media into a single calendar.
HubSpot editorial calendar
The IMA team uses a combination of Basecamp and HubSpot to plan our content marketing efforts.
5. Internal Communications/Email Management
Email isn't always the best tool. Even for organizations working off Google apps for business, emails can quickly get buried and ultimately neglected. No one wants to drop the ball on crucial tasks, but it can happen in a setting that's heavily reliant on email. Email isn't meant to act as a filing system, and it's certainly not meant to act as a project management software.
Even worse, email can be horribly inefficient. It's typically a lot faster to engage in real-time conversations with colleagues. Chat programs can streamline negotiations about creative concepts and tasks much faster than a long email thread. Alternatively, inbox management programs can remove distractions and allow you to prioritize your emails that require action.
The IMA team communicates internally and shares files via Slack, which is a highly-centralized and very easy-to-search repository of team conversations.
What productivity tools would you include on this list of must-have items for busy marketing professionals?
image credit: bobbie vie/flickr