Speaking from experience, it can be surprisingly difficult to hunt down the right project management tools and systems. Everyone seems to have an opinion, but the lists of resources are often long and jumbled; and on top of that, you never know who's sponsoring whom to say what (yes, that beast of a sentence was grammatically correct). As a rule of thumb, when I'm researching something, I try to spend as much as I can asking other people what works best for them.

So here's the inside scoop on the three tasks management systems Clarity uses most often, and why they work for us:

For Client Interaction and General Task Management: Basecamp

When you have multiple people working on a project, Basecamp is tops. It allows you to keep an organized checklist of to-do items, assign team members to tasks, create a calendar and plan-of-action, and manage communication quickly and effectively between all members on the project. This is convenient not just for our clients, who are given the transparency they need to comfortably monitor their project, but also for our developers. All of our team members work with multiple clients, and Basecamp allows them to break each client - and the respective tasks - into manageable, measurable components. 

My only gripe about Basecamp, and it's a minor one, is that it's a little too easy to send messages to the wrong people. The messaging system is set such that the default is to send a message to everyone on the project, and you have to manually un-check project members from there. Nobody wants to be that guy who floods everybody's inbox. Overall, though, the program is great.

For Time Keeping and Invoicing: EasyProjects

easyprojects timekeeping system

EasyProjects is a lifesaver for people who need maximum accountability regarding where their time is going (read: anyone who works with a client). This timekeeping system allows us to select projects, log the hours we worked, write descriptions of what we accomplished, and tag each entry as "billable" (client work) or "non-billable" (internal work). As an added bonus, it is integrated into our internal CRM system, which makes generating company reports, logging time off, and managing payroll a breeze. If you only have a set amount of time allocated to a particular task or client, EasyProjects will also helpfully tell you if you've gone over (which is generally not good, so I don't suggest you do it).

Back when I was an independent contractor, I used a similar timekeeping and task management system called Freshbooks. I actually prefer Freshbooks' user interface and overall design; it's much more intuitive, particularly if you need to edit or back-date an entry. Plus, the Freshbooks team seems really well-rounded and in-the-know, and I'm a sucker for companies that look like they have fun while they're working. From what I gather, EasyProjects is better suited for integration with internal systems, but for simple integration, the Freshbooks API will do the trick.

For Just About Everything Else: Our Company-Wide CRM

Disclaimer: as you may know by now, CRM integration is a big part of what we do here at Clarity. And yes, your company should absolutely consider it. As someone who frequently uses our Microsoft Dynamics CRM system at Clarity, I can attest to the fact that it can do even more for your company than a robot butler. Whenever you LiveChat with Ryan on our website, your conversation becomes a lead in our CRM system. The sales and marketing team relies on it heavily to track contacts, and we all use it as a way to manage goals, reports, proposals, feedback, and a whole host of other useful stuff. It's a great repository for all the data we have to keep up with so that we can focus on helping our clients.

Bonus: Workflowy

Workflowy is a free tool I found that pretty much changed my life. Do you like lists? Did you watch "Inception?" Okay, this is the Listception of all the task management tools. You can make lists within lists, to your hearts' content - and its no frills interface is oddly refreshing. Go check it out.

And as always, if you have other questions about how we manage our systems around here, just ask!

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Meg Nanson works on Clarity's marketing team. Her strengths are in copywriting, relationship-building, SEO, and strategic thinking. She loves infusing personality into brands by adapting her writing style to match the needs and philosophy of her audience. She rarely sits in a chair and can often be found sitting on her office floor or lying on the lobby couch while she works, or standing behind one of the web developers while they're trying to work. 


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