10 ways to improve collaboration in client projects
This blog post presents 10 best practices to improve the way small businesses collaborate with customers in web-based client projects.
This post is meant to answer regular requests we have from our clients about what are the some of the best practice they should know about when using GroupCamp to collaborate with clients. Over the last months we have built many features which makes customer collaboration even easier for our clients. This post presents the 10 best practices which have proved to be key in building successful customer projects.
I - Invite your clients into projects as guests and customize application settings
As described in our FAQ, there is a key difference in GroupCamp between Users and Guests. By adding your clients as Guests you can easily control what they can or cannot do in the project using GroupCamp privileges. You might decide that clients should not be allowed to complete tasks or delete files.
2 - Plan your teamwork so your team is synced on the key deadlines
There is no client project without key milestones. By using the Milestones app and linking them to task lists, your client can see the key steps (and the updates) in the milestones graphic view. The same of course applies to the cross-project view if your client has been invited in multiple on-going projects within your account. By putting themselves as owners of all milestones of a given project, managers will receive weekly email digests of all tasks related to the milestones of the client project.
3 - Don’t start from scratch every time, build a client project template for Files and Tasks and more
Client projects often follow the same business process. Automation is therefore key to make sure your team can be as productive as possible. By defining a client template project (create a project and call it ‘Client Project template’) you can import tasks, milestones, files from the template project.
4. Assign tasks directly from client emails. Save project related emails within the client project using email dropbox addresses.
A successful client project also means that team members who own the relationship with the customer find it easier to process client requests received by email. This can be done easily by defining a project task email address in your client project which you can add in the Cc or Bcc of your emails. You can even directly assign a task by email by sending an email received from a client to a team member by adding the project task email address in the Cc or Bcc field.
When exchanging emails with your client, adding a project email address for your client project will also allow you to save all those emails in one place including all attached files in client emails.
5. Make sure team members are synced with their due dates and have updated calendars
Empower your team members by allowing them to have all the due dates of the tasks assigned to them in their calendar. Team members can therefore have all their assigned tasks and milestones in their calendar and therefore in their iPhone, Android or other smartphone. If you are a Google G Suite user, please note that you can also define a shared group calendar per client project and have every project member sync their tasks with that shared calendar.
6. Submitting client work
Marketing work gets done in a number of ways, in most cases offline and outside of your online projects. For marketing consultants producing documents or presentations, ask your team members to link their work to existing tasks so that project managers can control the work done relative to tasks.
When designing a web site, logos or new product for a client, keeping track of project discussions is key and the ability to use your email to reply to notifications increases the team’s productivity.
If you are a Google Docs user, your initial work can be a Google Docs file to which the client project is linked (Files app). Then import the file in the right format when it is ready to be shared by clients.
7. Control what your client can see in a project
You don’t need to share the initial drafts with your client. You can put your shared files, task lists and discussions which are not ready to be shared with the client as being private. If you are collaborating with other guests who are partners and who should access the draft versions you can authorize their companies to access private objects.
Why not put the internal work being done in a separate project? Because the project is the perfect container for a given client project. Because when you export all the content of your project after it’s over, all the file versions produced for a given project will be available in the same archive.
8. Don’t let valuable information get lost in emails. Build your online project knowledge management base
The Wiki app is a great way of setting up a knowledge base for your client project. This is your intranet with links to all the important aspects of the project : scope or stateent of work, meeting minutes, contracts, other specifications, etc...
Why put this in the wiki and not in a shared file in the Files app? Because knowledge of this type should be published and not archived in a shared file and also because your client project knowledge is valuable if it can be updated easily and if it provides revision management.
9. Sharing data, files and progress reports with customers
You can show the planning and the progress of your project either in the cross-project overview activity feed. You can also update clients in real time by adding them as followers on tasks so that they are updated whenever tasks are completed. This is to be used with caution since it might represent endless emails everyday. For a weekly report, clients can be forwarded the weekly digest.
10. Tracking the time spent on your customer project and billing
If you own a marketing, consulting or any other similar business, your business relies on controlling the amount of time spent on a client project. Having your team enter the time spent on tasks or directly on a project from the cross-project view makes it easier to track time spent on your client project. Timelog and Timesheet apps.