When starting a new project, especially one involving multiple contributors, you want to make sure to quickly get everyone on the same page. Then you want to keep them in step as the project moves forward. To best do that, you should create some sort of a hub, a one-stop place for everything related to the project. This will become the Team Dashboard. To ensure that dashboard is always fresh and useful, you’ll want to keep communication open and content dynamically updated and shared. To support the effort and get your dashboard up and running, you need good cloud-based tools, but with so many siloed choices out there, it's often best to look for complementary tools, rather than hoping just one can get it all done. I propose you pair a strong visual collaboration tool like Infolio, with a leading communication app, e.g. Slack and follow six easy steps.
1/ Create a Visual Dashboard. Look for a great tool out there that allows to create safe cloud-based team workspaces. Try out Infolio, which emphasizes a visual workspace, this will be easiest for organization and navigation. Infolio allows you to organize all information related to a specific project or research theme on visual boards, which are easy to set up, and allow inviting team to collaborate in them.
2/ Add Background Materials. Getting people on the same page before the work starts is key--give the team the ability to easily research and acquaint themselves before moving ahead. For projects of any size, you can simply create an area of the dashboard that includes links to related stories, upload documents to the space, or link apps like Office 365 to share emails and specific documents. For larger, ongoing projects you can even create a custom wiki to organize large amounts of background materials, and then link the wiki to the dashboard.
3/ Organize the Dashboard. Label different sections of the cloud-based dashboard (or workspace) to identify specific parts of the project. For example, the dashboard can be organized to reflect different tasks within the project, steps in a sales cycle, Kanban management, or a startup strategy spreadsheet. Regardless, team members can then share material in process so work is available either during a group meeting or when a global team is working in different time zones. I’ve found virtual yellow Infolio stickers (notes) can also be helpful to share comments on specific documents.
4/ Open up Communication. While email will continue to have its place, it can slow communication, especially with teams working across time zones. Instead, many startups and teams are migrating towards quick response tools like Slack. Slack can be used for private one-on-one communications between team members, or to aggregate other systems that are used to track projects. It can also communicate reminders from other apps. However, integrating Slack channels into your dashboard, e.g. using a web clipping feature in Infolio, will make a lot of sense, and Slack’s messaging and notifications should stay active within the dashboard.
5/ Establish a Meeting Plan. Regardless of how any team member works, and what content has been updated on the Team Dashboard, it is always a good idea to establish a basic meeting schedule and process for launching meetings. Some companies are using Slack plugins to launch video and audio conferencing, using Gotomeeting, Skype, Google Hangout, Webex or Zoom.
6/ Track Action Items. Smaller teams can use built-in chat features within the Team Dashboard/visual workspace and update built-in cloud-based to-do lists. Larger teams can use the chat feature built into the system to capture notes but can also transfer action items into any project management system used by the organization.
And...Go! That is all it takes to create and manage a Team Dashboard that will help launch projects and keep your team moving forward in-step. By using a strong combination of visual collaboration and communication tools startups can now get teams up and running as quickly and safely as the most sophisticated Global 500 enterprise. Best of all, many of the best tools are robust enough for the enterprise but offered for free to individuals and small teams, just like Infolio. Download Infolio on the App Store and jump start smarter project collaboration.
David Arbery, Director of Sales & Consulting at Infolio
P. S. We created Infolio with love, and are committed to continually improving it. Your feedback is precious to us! In case you have ideas on how we can make Infolio better for you - please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is more to come - we will keep you posted!