The right project management processes can save you time, energy, and money – which you can then use to invest in other areas of your business, not to mention your family. So how do you set up the right systems for keeping client projects running smoothly and on time? Start by putting the best project management tools to work for you. Here are my top five picks for showing your next project who’s boss.
Dubsado is a tricked-out, all-in-one CRM, specifically designed for creative freelancers and entrepreneurs. It does everything you’d expect a CRM to do, plus invoicing, calendar synchronization, email integration, contract creation, task management, and more. It’s one of the most powerful tools to have in your entrepreneurial arsenal.
The Perfect Tool for Keeping Your Projects on Schedule
Manage Leads and Workflows
Dubsado is a great project management tool because it helps you capture leads through easy-to-build, integrated forms and it allows you to develop lead funnels. Therefore, you always know when to follow up. From there, you can automate everything through workflows you’ll create for all your repeatable processes. For example, set Dubsado to send an automatic thank you email every time a client make payments. Trigger steps in workflows by time, status, events, or dates. Workflows are “one and done.” Set them up, and they take care of themselves, saving you time, energy, and peace of mind. Nothing slips through the cracks!
Invoice (and More) with Client Portals
Once your leads become clients, give them access to your Dubsado client portal to sign contracts, make payments, and fill out forms. Dubsado makes it easy for your clients to submit payments from anywhere – which means you to get paid quickly! Invoicing integrates with Stripe, Square, and Paypal, with the option to set up recurring invoices for ongoing projects. You can even create subscription payments, where your clients allow for auto-deductions each month. The client portal is a win-win, as it helps keep your clients as organized as you are.
Brand Yourself Completely
Let your brand personality shine through with Dubsado’s customization options. It integrates with your email so that all client communications are sent from the email address you specify. Plus, you can incorporate your logo, set your brand colors, and change your URL, favicon, and metadata (i.e., page title and preview text).
Leverage Additional Features
The three benefits above are enough to make you stand out from the crowd, but your Dubsado account also includes these additional features for efficiently running your business.
- Task management – Its Kanban-style task board and reminders keep you on track.
- Questionnaires – Easily create and send questionnaires to gather client information.
- Email templates – For those emails you send over and over. Create them once and you’re set!
- Calendar integration – Stay on top of your schedule by syncing Dubsado with your Google, Outlook, or iCal calendar.
- Dashboard – See your week at a glance, including appointments, commitments, to-dos, and message alerts.
- Workflows – We mentioned workflows above, but they’re so powerful it bears repeating. Create your workflows once, and Dubsado will automatically send contracts, emails, invoices, and more.
Take It for a Test Drive with Dubsado’s Free Trial
Guess what! Dubsado’s free trial doesn’t require a credit card, and the trial is free, forever, for up to three clients. It helps to level the playing field for new entrepreneurs who want to establish effective systems right away, but who may not yet have the budget to pay for all the best tools. Click here to start your test drive. [Full disclosure: That’s my affiliate link.] But please note, when you get to the point where you need to manage more than three clients, Dubsado is highly affordable!
Voxer is a must-have, smartphone and web browser app that turns your device into a walkie-talkie (complete with satisfying, old-school walkie-talkie sound notifications). If you happen to have the app open as someone is speaking, you’ll hear it in real time! And if not, the message will be saved for you to give it a listen when it’s convenient for you. (Many other walkie-talkie options are real-time only.) Plus, it allows your clients to have direct access to you without giving out your phone number. But why is a voice messaging app an excellent project management tool?
Voxer Keeps You Connected to Your Clients
As a project manager, you work with creatives who need to explain their creative ideas to you. Well, typing doesn’t always cut it and creative ideas are often expressed more easily when they’re stated aloud. Plus, it can be much quicker to say something than to type it out on a keyboard or smart device. Your clients can talk out what they need to share with you, quickly and clearly.
Deeply Connect with Clients, Faster
Think about why you have calls with your prospects and clients instead of communicating with them strictly through email. There’s a limit to how well you can get to know (and like and trust!) someone with text-based communications, right? We need to speak to one another – even if it’s virtually – in order to build solid relationships. Sure, you could schedule more phone or video calls with clients, but who has time for that? Voxer allows you to talk to each other, on the regular, without jamming up your schedule with calls.
With its push-to-talk functionality, messages to and from your clients are literally at your fingertips. It’s perfect for our virtual work world, as Voxer allows you to deal with immediate tasks right now, which means little to no wait time in getting answers. Plus, you can save additional time by messaging clients when you’re throwing a load of clothes into the wash or driving kids to soccer practice. Unlike other voice message options, creating a spoken message doesn’t require multiple screen taps. (And Voxer doesn’t cut you off at 60 seconds!) If you’re extra safety conscious, the pro version includes a hands-free option.
Speaking of the pro version – which is wildly inexpensive, by the way – if you upgrade to pro, voice-to-text transcription of messages is available. We just discussed how spoken client communications can improve your business, so how would transcriptions be helpful? Let me count the ways! In a place where audio would be disruptive, read the message instead. When your client says something that could be repurposed as written content, there’s no need to type it out. Finally, you can send yourself a “My Notes” voice message in Voxer! You could “write” your next blog post by talking to Voxer as you wait for your kids in the carpool lane. Transcribe the message and – BOOM! – you have the written portion of your blog content ready to go when you get home.
Productivity Ninja Tip – Send a Message to Trello
Seamlessly connect your clients’ communications to tasks in your project with Voxer! Links to Voxer audio files can be shared in a variety of ways, including text message and email. Say you get a message from a client that triggers your next task for her project. Simply forward the message straight from Voxer to a task in the appropriate Trello board.
Give Voxer a Try
The free version of Voxer may have all the features you need to keep in touch with your clients and manage their projects. But if you want to tap into the pro features, such as transcription, message recall, and unlimited message storage (versus 30 days on the free version), Voxer Pro is super cost-effective at $29.99 a year, when billed annually!
The Trello app is a Kanban-style project and task management tool that’s ideal for visual creatives. It’s composed of boards (a project), lists (the categories or “buckets” within the project), and cards (the individual pieces or tasks associated with the project). The cards are arrayed across lists within a board like virtual sticky notes, providing a visual overview of every moving part of a project, along with each team member’s responsibilities. Like sticky notes, you move the cards along the workflow specified by the lists. The entire progress is visible at a glance by every person involved in the project.
The Project Manager’s Choice for Project Management
Assign Due Dates
Assign due dates to individual cards, ensuring tasks are completed on time and move along the workflow. When you add a due date, a badge with the date appears on the card and it’s visible on the face of the card (i.e., you don’t have to open the card to see the due date). The badge turns yellow to alert you that the task is due within 24 hours and turns red to let you know the task is due today. When tasks are past due, they turn pink. These color changes are another way that Trello lets you know your project status at a glance.
Just as due dates can be assigned to a card, members can be assigned to a card to indicate who’s responsible for the task. Trello notifies you of actions you are responsible for. If you need to know when someone else completes an action in a card, ‘watch’ that card, and Trello will send you notifications on that card, as well.
Trello allows you to add files, including images, directly to cards within your project. Uploading files to cards ensures that everyone involved in the project has all the information they need in one, centralized place.
Break It Down
Adding due dates, assigning responsibilities, and attaching files are just a few ways you add details to tasks within a project. You’re also able to tag others and add comments, checklists, labels, and other details. This flexibility allows you to keep cards simple or to break out projects into the most minute detail you could need. The options available within Trello allow you and your clients or team members to see the big picture, as well as how all the project’s parts are linked together. One of the best things about Trello is its flexibility to handle any size project, which means it grows with you and your business!
Jump into Trello – I’ll Get You Started!
If you’re not already a Trello user, I want you to see for yourself how powerful this tool is for managing tasks and projects. I’ve created a board to share with you to help you get started. Simply CLICK HERE to be taken to the project board. Be sure to follow the instructions you’ll see on the first card to copy this board to your own Trello account.
Okay, if you don’t know what Google Drive is, you must be living under that proverbial rock. But maybe you aren’t yet using it for client work because you don’t fully understand how useful it is. Let’s fix that right now.
Google Drive is a free place to store and sync files across your devices, as well to share files with others. It gives you the ability to upload files from your computer or create files directly within Google Drive.
The Best Solution for Document Management
Because Google Drive is cloud-based, you can access your files anywhere, anytime, and from any mobile device. Handy!
Have you ever passed a document for editing back and forth via email and lost track of which version was the most up-to-date? No more! Because you and your client (or a teammate) can work within one document, in one place. Document version management begone!
Get It Together:
Google Drive supports every type of file you’ll need to keep your projects moving along smoothly – worksheets, forms, documents, presentations. Create a shared folder with your client, and you can store and manage every project document in that one location.
Did I already mention that it’s a free project management tool?
Give Google Drive a Go
Add a client folder to your Google Drive and create the next document the project needs and keep you and your client in sync. Or upload existing client documents to manage everything in one place.
So far, we’ve talked about a souped-up CRM, a versatile voice messaging app, a kick-butt, Kanban-style project management tool, and a dope document storing and sharing solution. Now allow me to introduce you to the secret weapon for rocking your next project: YOU!
You Are Your #1 Advantage
Unleash Your Genius:
The client chose you for the way your mind works – for what you, personally, bring to the table. Your unique way of doing things is what separates you from other project managers and makes the client experience different. It’s important to remember that. The client picked you. Trust yourself and let yourself shine.
Every job has tasks to be done and milestones to be reached in order to achieve the objective effectively and on time. How you work with your clients to get to those end goals is so important, and now you are fully armed with the tools you need to keep both you and your clients on track. Take the time to learn to use your tools for maximum efficiency and hold yourself to your high standards.
Start leveraging you more effectively by knowing your strengths, how you work best, and how to use your tools most effectively. Document both your processes and your personal strengths, so that you can clearly communicate them to your prospects and clients. And don’t forget to remind yourself that you’re amazing!