In a recent LinkedIn Poll by Aquent, 33% of respondents said they still rely on a shared spreadsheet to manage their tasks at work. For many teams, this shared spreadsheet may seem leaps and bounds better than their previous system (or no system at all), and we get it—simple solutions are often the best for everyone. But after helping countless teams dig themselves out of shared spreadsheets, there are some real perils to be aware of.
Manual, Redundant Tasks
Spreadsheets are easy to look at but tough to maintain. Multiple users updating spreadsheets can lead to redundancies in work, and they’re not designed to handle a high-level workflow. When teams implement automated workflows through a project management tool, they can save hours each week on manual, redundant tasks. One project manager reported saving 40 hours per year by implementing a single automation in RoboHead–an entire week.
TIP: If you find yourself setting up multiple meetings, filling out the same spreadsheets, or manually filling out excessive details on a spreadsheet, look for a project management software that offers automation options.
Lack of Clarity
While spreadsheets can be an incredibly useful tool, they can leave off quite a lot of important information and context about who is responsible for the individual parts of a project. When you add projects to a project management tool, you have the opportunity to link them to other important information, including relevant resources, and assign individual tasks to different creatives.
TIP: As you add more complexity to your project management spreadsheet, remember that a better tool will help you track all of that information–without the extra effort.
When you store all the information related to a project in a single spreadsheet, it is likely that context will be missing and you’ll be forced to set up meetings to gather more context, clarify work, and more. After implementing RoboHead, one team was able to eliminate two meetings per project because of the ability to create custom project request forms!
TIP: If you find yourself regularly going back for more details on a project, it’s likely that you aren’t asking the right questions on the front end! RoboHead’s project request tools allow you to create custom forms where outside departments can submit requests, along with relevant media, questions, and due dates.
No Clear Status
Having a “status” column on your project management file seems like a great place to start, but often no one goes back to the spreadsheet to update their status or make notes when they are stuck. It is even common for two graphic designers to take on the same project because it wasn’t clear who claimed it. When managers and team members have more visibility into who is working on what, it makes it easier to forecast workload, stay on top of deadlines, and do better work.
TIP: A tool with automation capabilities will allow the status to seamlessly change as updates are made throughout the project. At RoboHead, we call these RoboScripts!
Many teams without detailed project tracking struggle with meeting deadlines. Often, this is simply because team members simply aren’t aware of impending due dates. By adding more visibility into deadlines and better organization on task assignments, one team was able to reduce their turnaround time on projects from six weeks to just two!
TIP: A tool that allows for customization will allow you to adapt it to how your team already works, meaning it will be easier to adopt and start using right away!
A big part of being the best you can be as a marketing and creative professional is staying organized and on top of your goals. Implementing a better project management system makes individuals more productive and has a compounding effect—making some teams more than twice as productive as without a system. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true…the wrong system could be making your team half as productive as they could be–and without the additional information and reporting offered by that system, you might not even realize you have a problem.