Effective Communication Beyond Skype

In our post last week, we discussed utilizing Skype to facilitate interactive, intuitive, and team-oriented communication. This week, though, we'll be discussing more specific or capable programs that allow you control over content, team collaboration, and workflow. What happens when you reach its limitations or its not meshing smoothly with your process anymore? Introducing specific solutions:
  • First, WebEx by Cisco. Maybe you need something that’s built specifically for you to reach out to large groups of people. Well, the solution to that is WebEx; it’s meant for large conference calls and is an excellent tool if you find that your clients are remote and you need to keep them apprised of your progress. This is exactly what we use it for: many of our larger clients expect to speak with us weekly, and these meetings typically bring our development, marketing, and project management teams together. WebEx is able to handle these large groups, and while it’s unwieldy for daily collaboration it’s perfect for these sorts of events.
  • Hipchat takes collaborative interaction of to a whole new level. We’ve talked a lot about the advantages of Skype but the problem with Skype is that since it’s general, it doesn’t integrate with our other tools as smoothly as it could. While that’s not a problem, our goal is to increase our efficiency as well as satisfying our priorities. The benefit of HipChat is that it directly integrates with our project management software, so instead of having to designate team groups, you can interact directly with the people working on specific projects. Rather than sending files straight to someone’s computer you can attach them to the project that they’re working on, so that they’re available to the team. This product is built specifically to work with software development teams, and as a result, it is able to remove a lot of those inefficiencies that we find when we use general solutions.
We also had to come up with better solutions for "stuff." Over the years we’ve used both DropBox and Google Drive to help us manage our documents; we’ve accumulated tens of thousands of documents over the years, and it became obvious quickly that we would need a way to store everything. You either wouldn’t be able to find the file that you needed quickly or you wouldn’t have access to it at all. Cloud storage eliminates those issues altogether. Rather than being limited to the data that’s on your device, you can use any device with the application installed and immediately be able to access all of the files that you have available. Now we’re able to share documents throughout the company quickly. Rather than running into limitations with sending files through email you can make them available immediately from your desktop or mobile device. Essentially with a well-organized cloud-storage system takes the guesswork out of accessing files when you need to. Now, the key to that statement is "well-organized." We go to great lengths to maintain that as we’ve been growing. First, folder organization is critical. Creating your folders in such a way that you can easily travel through them, and find what you need to as your storage scales up is necessary. How we approach this is through categories; identifying key areas of your business that require files storage. For example, we might have folders for “Projects," “Assets," and “Internal Business.” Under each of those categories we would have subcategories and so on. Planning ahead in this process will make it far easier to identify where what you want is later on when you’ve filled the folders up. Figure out a naming convention; rather than using the first thing that comes to mind, agree with your team on a specific way to name your files. A good method would be to add the date before a descriptive title. This would keep all of the files grouped together chronologically and help you identify what was done when. Obviously this could vary quite a bit depending on what you’re storing, but again, it makes it far easier to identify files that are in a large group. Share your folders with the appropriate teams. If you’re a business owner or manager you can designate certain folders only be accessible by certain groups. For example, if you have a team that handles design, you’d likely want them to have access to stock photography, but not necessarily to proposals. These solutions allow you to do that.

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