Using Project Management Systems to Improve Workflow Efficiency

Using Project Management Systems to Improve Workflow Efficiency

virtually tope blog project management task workflow systems efficiency

Whether you are a small business owner who needs to look for alternative ways of working efficiently with members of your team despite the global pandemic or a CEO who needs to drive sales up by looking for better ways of operating in the face of Covid-19, having an efficient workflow system is a life-saver.

As nations, economies and businesses strive to look past the impact of Covid-19 and the global lockdown, business operations are having to evolve more into embracing contact-less transactions.

Business Operations are having to evolve more into embracing

the new CONTACT-LESS market

Virtually Tope Inc.

The reason why a lot of success is been recorded in this area, especially in the developed countries, is due to their use of technology which allows employees to work remotely.

Before now, most companies only allowed partial work-from-home days to their employees but they have since gone all the way due to lockdown caused by Coronavirus.

In another light, organisations are realizing that they can work more efficiently by capturing repetitive tasks and thus creating workflow processes that can bring about profitable results for their business despite the disruptions.

virtuallytope project management workflow systems

Sadly, this cannot be said about some countries who still find it hard to conduct their businesses virtually because of poor infrastructure and they are beginning to learn the hard way that technology is no longer a “nice to have” but a “must-have” during this global pandemic.

So the question remains, how can organisations continue to work in the new market with contact-less and physical distancing features?

Check out how to create a Business Continuity Plan here.

The answer is to use task management software that will help them manage their projects and teams. It’s important to find project management software that can help small businesses maximize output while keeping their team’s workload balanced. 

What to look out for in an efficient Project Management Software

There are lots of Project Management software out there but as a small business owner or entrepreneur, there’s need to look out for the ones that will make you and your organisation work more efficiently without necessary “breaking the bank” despite the impact of Covid-19.

Here are some features that are indispensible:

  1. A free version with reasonable limits: As a small business, you do not want to spend so much money from the onset and you would need a solution that allows you to test before committing to it. It should also be one that will allow to scale up as needed.
  2. Collaboration for team and clients: You would also need to look out for a software that will allow you and your team to collaborate easily. Communication effectively is key when you and your team/staff are working remotely.
  3. Task-flow management, responsibilities and dates: This is one very crucial feature you must look out for when choosing your project management software. You need to be able to manage tasks efficiently, follow up on projects, assign tasks to your direct reports and staff, and set due dates.
  4. Mobile responsiveness: Ensure that the solution you choose is also available on mobile
  5. Integration possibilities: The project management app of your choice should be to integrate all your other apps. There’s really no “one-size-fits-all” solution for project management software.
  6. Support system: Before you decide to go with any software at all, you need to make sure that there is an active development team behind the software keeping it up-to-date and bug-free.

Best Project Management Software for Small Teams on a tight budget

Here are our top project management picks based on features, pricing, customer support, and user experience.

We’ve tested each option out on your behalf (although we still recommend that you try it for yourself) and remember that there really is no one-size-fits-all solution.

We have also carefully selected these options because of their free features which are still quite remarkable for small teams who are on a tight budget to use.

1. Asana

Best project management software for supporting multiple project methodologies.

If your business falls under retail shops, website development, software development, marketing, office setup, etc This is the best project management software for you.

It is a profoundly effective tool that supports multiple project management styles and methodologies. Asana allows you to create task and project templates (which you can use for repetitive tasks), but its default setup is completely open-ended: The only required part of any task is a title. After that, you’re free to add a description, organizational tags, custom fields & task dependencies (available with paid plans), due dates, assignees, and more. 

Asana happens to be our favourite and this is why it is one of the services we offer. We can help you set up your organisation on Asana.

Get a free quote here

Asana Price: Free for up to 15 team members and basic features; from $9.99/user/month (billed annually) for the premium plan that includes additional features like advanced reporting, custom fields, and more.

2. Trello

Best project management software for simple projects.

Trello virtually tope project management system solutions

Trello is the master of Kanban simplicity and has gained a positive reputation for that reason. However, if you have complex tasks with multiple dependencies, for example, Trello’s features fall short. Despite this weakness, Trello is a simple, effective project management tool for an individual or small business.

Trello Price: Free for unlimited boards and up to 10MB attachments; from $12.50/user/month for Business Class that includes up to 250MB attachments, priority support, and additional features.

3. Airtable

Best project management software for spreadsheet & database lovers.

Airtable virtually tope project management system solutions

Airtable is a versatile spreadsheet-style database app that can help you manage any project. Think of it as a clean, ordered appearance of a spreadsheet but with a little more power such as the ability to toggle between the spreadsheet and other formats like a Kanban board or calendar view.

Airtable Price: Free for unlimited users and up to 1,200 records per base; from $12/user/month for the Plus plan with up to 5,000 records per base and 5GB attachments.

4. Basecamp

Best for small businesses looking for an easy to use, low-cost task manager.

Basecamp for project management solutions virtually tope

If your preference is ease of use, then Basecamp is the software for you. It is fairly simple and is more of a task manager than a full project management app. Their post-it notes style organization makes it easy to create project “cards” and add tasks and details on the virtual “backs” of these cards.

Basecamp is a great solution for businesses of 10-50 employees that need a way to plan and track projects and tasks. It has two pricing options: the free plan (which allows you to create and manage three projects, add 20 users, utilize 1 GB of storage, and contact basic customer support) and the paid plan (which goes for $99/month for Basecamp Unlimited, access to unlimited projects and unlimited users, 500 of GB storage, team collaboration tools, advanced features, and VIP support).

5. Wrike

Best project management software for maintaining a balanced team workload.

Wrike project management app

At first glance, the layout of Wrike projects is similar to Asana (with the exception of relying on a folder/project/task hierarchy instead of the project/section/task hierarchy in Asana). But where Asana’s flexibility comes from an open-ended structure, Wrike offers a more structured flexibility, enabling you to customize (and standardize) what information is a required part of each task.

Wrike Price: Free for up to five users and limited features; from $9.80/user/month (billed annually) for the professional plan that includes subtasks, Gantt chart views, and advanced integrations.

To conclude

Please note that this is not an exhaustive list. This is just to help you get started. Now that you have some idea on the type of project management software to look for, make a FREE CONSULTATION to let us know how we can further help you set up the one of your choice.

Do you already use a Project Management Software? Tell us what you like about it and if you are looking for some additional features, we would sure like to point you in the right direction.

About Virtually Tope

Since 2015, Virtually Tope Inc. has been collaborating with business and company owners to solve problems, maximize growth and improve business performance.

The MISSION of Virtually Tope is to solve PROBLEMS for small businesses, solopreneurs, agencies and companies by helping them improve their performance and finding new and better ways of doing things.

We understand that running a business or company can be very daunting. So we leverage industry expertise & technical knowledge to clients to improve their business processes, execute strategies and organisational designs.

We help clients to solve specific problems by offering tailored-made and adaptive solutions.

We take the “burden off their shoulders” through support services served with Quality Service Delivery, Customer Satisfaction and giving you the Best Value for your money at all times.

Virtually Tope Inc. has been collaborating with clients from all over the world for years by making their lives and business workflows easier and better.

The Beauty in Working From a Virtual Workplace

The Beauty in Working From a Virtual Workplace

 

A virtual workplace is a workplace that is not located in any one physical space. It is usually in a network of several workplaces technologically connected (via a private network or the Internet) without regard to geographic boundaries (Source: IGI Global definition).

A virtual workplace is also been referred to as “telecommuting” or “teleworking” or “working from home”. It is a work arrangement in which employees do not commute or travel (e.g. by bus or car) to a central place of work, such as an office building, warehouse, or store. Teleworkers in the 21st century often use mobile telecommunications technology such as Wi-Fi-equipped laptop or tablet computers and smartphones to work from coffee shops; others may use a desktop computer and a landline phone at their home.

The beauty in this is that you get to work with some of the most capable employees from different parts of the world, regardless of their location and you get to work with them anywhere you go – flexibility. Working from a Virtual workplace is the future and a lot of companies are already embracing it with open arms even though others feel there are downsides to setting up a virtual workplace for their company.

There have been arguments to support the disadvantages of working remotely such as being frustrated when you can’t communicate effectively due to time zone limitations. Problem solving also becomes an issue over varying time zones because the client wants prompt resolution which is almost impossible. Other challenges include:

  1. Lack of a sense of purpose across the virtual teams
  2. Over-reliance on electronic communication thus losing the human touch
  3. Less trust and cohesion in the different teams as there is no rapport between members.
  4. Less satisfaction with the team experience across the board. ( Source: PI Worldwide)

The fact still remains that if you haven’t considered using a remote team, you may be handicapping your business—it’s likely that your competitors are already taking advantage of its benefits. Fuel prices and long commutes are just two of the reasons that working remotely can improve both your employees’ income and your bottom line. (Source: Forbes)

Let’s take a closer look at these benefits;

  1. Cost Savings – You get to save costs both as a telecommuting/remote employer and an employee. Employers who use virtual workplaces enjoy savings by cutting off expenses on office space, employee resources like office supplies and electricity.

According to the Telework Research Network, the average real estate savings realized from a full-time teleworker is $10,000 a year. Companies that have implemented several virtual workplaces have seen large cost savings in real-estate cost. For example, IBM has reduced its real estate costs by $50 million and Sun Microsystems saves $68 million per year. (Source: Wikia)

 

As an employee, working remotely from home for example, provides you with savings on commuting costs like fuel and productive time that you would have wasted while trying to get through traffic. With video conferencing softwares like Zoom, GoToMeeting and Skype employers are able to communicate with their employees around the world without having to meet them physically. While these programs may not totally eliminate the need for virtual teams to meet face to face like once a year (the solution to distrust among virtual teams – one of the challenges of not managing a virtual workplace well), they minimize the travelling costs for all parties involved.

  1. Increased productivity – Endless productive hours spent in traffic is saved by operating from a virtual workplace. Check out these statistics below:

According to the Telework Research Network, if the 41 million Americans with telework-compatible jobs worked from home just one day a week the U.S. savings would total $772 million including:

  • $494 million in commuter costs
  • $185 million from 2.3 million barrels of oil saved
  • $ 93 million from 775 fewer traffic accidents

Plus the environment would be spared 423,000 tons of greenhouse gas-the equivalent of taking 77,000 cars off the road for a year. They also revealed that companies such as JD Edwards, AT&T and Compaq reported that their telecommuting employees are more productive than their office counterparts.

 

Very high traffic cities in Africa (like Lagos) can reduce a lot of unproductive hours that employees waste commuting endless hours by embracing the future in a virtual workplace. And by the way, increased productivity would lead to increased profit which is good for business.

  1. Larger candidate pool – One of “my favorite” benefits when it comes to working from a virtual workplace is that it provides a bigger pool of resources to make up your team. It allows you to choose the best and most capable employees for the job, regardless of their location. Thanks to technology such as the internet and smart apps being developed every day, virtual teams can collaborate and leverage on these advantages.

Other benefits include being able to leverage on the advantage(s) of having virtual team members from different or multiple time zones who can still interact and work with one another in a collaborated environment (online) regardless of where they are in the world.

Check out these 10 free apps that will help you manage your virtual team and work smart.

10 Free Apps that will help you Work Smarter in your Freelancing Business

10 Free Apps that will help you Work Smarter in your Freelancing Business

With so many people ditching their 9-to-5 jobs to become freelancers these days, this industry has seen rapid growth over the years and its still growing. However, this doesn’t mean that freelancers are not facing certain challenges on the job.

As a freelancer, one of the challenges you encounter is how to keep delivering quality service to your customers so they can keep coming back. Freelancing can be quite demanding and time-consuming because there’s the temptation to take on so much work since your time is flexible.

When faced with the demand that comes from juggling multiple jobs and the pressure to deliver, you need to figure out how you can meet up with set deadlines to keep your customers happy.

Thanks to technology, you don’t have to work harder to achieve that. You could actually make life and work easier by discovering smarter ways of getting things done as a freelancer.

Google seems to have made life and work easy for a lot of us freelancers and so most of the apps we are going to look at actually work really well on Google Chrome Browser and sometimes, you could have them as an extension on your browser, which makes it even closer to your fingertips.

The key to working SMART as a freelancer is all about looking for easier ways of getting the job done. Here is a list of some of the apps that I use every day and they have made work and life a lot easier for me. I hope you find them useful too and if you do, you can subscribe to our newsletter to get notified about our latest news.

Evernote

evernote virtuallytope smart apps for freelancer

Evernote is designed for note-taking, organizing, tasks lists, and archiving. I can’t imagine my life without it. With Evernote, your ideas are always with you so you don’t forget anything. The Basic plan is free and accommodates two devices, so you are in sync at all times.

Get Evernote here!

Light shot

lightshot virtuallytope smart apps for freelancers

Now, this app has been a real lifesaver for me. It is the fastest way to take customizable screenshots on your laptop. It is a Google Chrome extension. All you need to do is select an area, edit your screenshot and upload it to the cloud or save on a disk.

Google Keep

Virtually Tope Google_Keep1

Google Keep is an excellent app to store all your notes and quickly capture new ideas. What’s great about this app is that it is a google extension and so all you need to do to save a piece of useful information you found online is to just click the button on your browser’s extension and that’s it, it’s saved for you to use whenever you want. It’s free, colourful and it’s also available on mobile.

Buffer

Virtually Tope Buffer Image

Are you a social media manager? You will really love this app because it helps you to schedule posts on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and Instagram.

OneTab

Virtually Tope OneTab smart app

If you are a blogger or writer like me and you sometimes find yourself with too many tabs, click the OneTab icon to convert all of your tabs into a list. When you need to access the tabs again, you can either restore them individually or all at once.

This will save memory and keep the clutter to a minimum. Keeping your tabs to a minimum keeps you organized and on task. Onetab is free to download and it is an extension of Google Chrome and Firefox.

Slack

Virtually Tope Slack Image

I personally use Slack to run my virtual business since my team and I work remotely. Slack brings team communication and collaboration into one place so you can get more work done, whether you belong to a large enterprise or a small business. Check off your to-do list and move your projects forward by bringing the right people, conversations, tools, and information you need together.

Slack is available on any device, so you can find and access your team and your work, whether you’re at your desk or on the go.

Use Slack to:
• Communicate with your team and organize your conversations by topics, projects, or anything else that matters to your work
• Message or call any person or group within your team
• Share and edit documents and collaborate with the right people all in Slack
• Integrate into your workflow, the tools and services you already use including Google Drive, Salesforce, Dropbox, Asana, Twitter, Zendesk, and more
• Easily search a central knowledge base that automatically indexes and archives your team’s past conversations and files
• Customize your notifications so you stay focused on what matters

(Source: Google Play)

Trello

virtually tope sample-trello-board

Trello is a collaboration tool that teams use. Whether it’s managing a team, or just making a grocery list, Trello is your sidekick for getting things done and staying organized. If you are working on a virtual workplace, Trello is a very useful project management tool you can use to stay in touch with your team and follow up with projects done by your co-workers. It’s free, web-based and also available on Mobile. Trello integrates with other apps as well which makes it really cool. You just need to try it out. Get Trello here!

With Trello you can:

  • Create boards to organize anything you’re working on
  • Use them solo or invite co-workers, friends and family to collaborate
  • Customize workflows for different projects
  • Add checklists of “To-Dos” on cards
  • Assign files from Google Drive and Dropbox
  • Upload photos and videos
  • Reply to comments from Android Wear
  • Display cards in a calendar view with the Calendar Power-Up
  • Work offline and boards will sync automatically when reconnected

Get Trello here!

(Source: Google Play)

Bitrix24

Virtually Tope Bitrix 24 CRM image

A similar app to Trello that I also use is Bitrix24 CRM. It’s 100% free cloud-based CRM system for small businesses. Free unlimited CRM records, sales tracking, email marketing and automation.

Google Doc Voice Typing

virtually Tope Google voice_typing smart app

Again, if you are into writing, blogging or content, this app comes in really handy for you. I use it to prepare my notes for a presentation or to take down my thoughts for the day.

In Google Docs, you can now simply talk for speech-to-text dictation if your computer has a microphone! You can even pause, issue a command, pause again, and resume dictating. (Source: Smore)

I particularly like the Google keyboard on my android which also carries this feature, so with mobile, it’s even more convenient to use.

Zoom

virtuallytope smart app for freelancers

When it comes to video conferencing, Zoom is my best choice. It’s very easy to use, available on mobile and with the free version, you can join any meeting and host unlimited 1:1 meetings. Free group meetings are limited to 40 minutes.

(Source: Google Play)

CamScanner

virtuallytope smart apps for freelancers

CamScanner is probably the best document scanner app on mobile. You use the app to scan documents into your phone and convert them to PDF format. You then send that document through email, save it to your device, and you can even fax it for a nominal fee. It seems to hit all the checkboxes you’d want in an app like this. You can use most of the features for free or you can pay for a subscription if you intend on using it very heavily. In either case, it’s a must-have. (Source: JOE HINDY)

I hope you will find these apps useful as well in your journey to becoming a smart freelancer. Do you know any other useful tool that can make you work smart as a freelancer? Please share on the comment box below.

About Virtually Tope

Since 2015, Virtually Tope Inc. has been collaborating with business and company owners to solve problems, maximize growth and improve business performance.

The MISSION of Virtually Tope is to solve PROBLEMS for small businesses, solopreneurs, agencies, entrepreneurs and companies by helping them improve their performance and finding new and better ways of doing things.

We understand that running a business or company can be very daunting. So we leverage industry expertise & technical knowledge to clients to improve their business processes, execute strategies and organisational designs.

We help clients to solve specific problems by offering tailored-made and adaptive solutions.

We take the “burden off their shoulders” through support services served with Quality Service Delivery, Customer Satisfaction and giving you the Best Value for your money at all times.

Virtually Tope Inc. has been collaborating with clients from all over the world for years by making their lives and business workflows easier and better.