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Small businesses offer tips to improve project management, record-keeping

Posted by Chamber Communications on Apr 19, 2018

Handling the day-to-day functions of a company can be the most difficult and time-consuming part of the day for anyone managing a small business … so any pointers on how to improve the functions companies use most each day can be extremely valuable.

The Chamber’s April 11 event in the “60 Minutes to Success” series featured a panel of local small business leaders talking about their own struggles with the daily grind of business management, and the tools and tricks they have used to handle those issues in their own companies.

The conversation covered tools and tips for improving three main areas: project management, record-keeping, and communication. The panelists agreed that many of their issues in both project workflow and records management boiled down to the ability to have multiple people securely access information at the same time.

For example, Megan Johnson, VP of operations for 417 Magazine, said employees needed simultaneous access to company data and a way to better manage project workflows. The company employed Google Sheets as a solution to both issues.

Meanwhile, Kayla Reese – market center administrator for Keller Williams Realty Greater Springfield – said her organization uses a combination of Google Drive, Dropbox, and an industry-specific, cloud-based solution called Dotloop to manage its record-keeping needs.

And Spencer Harris, director of operations at Mostly Serious, said his company uses Asana to handle workflow and let its website design customers monitor project progress.

The wide variety of solutions used by these companies illustrates both of their key points during the session: 

  • There are literally dozens of tools available for businesses of all sizes to improve their management abilities
  • Deciding which tool to use – and making the switch to a new system – can be as challenging as the day-to-day management process itself

“There are a lot of considerations to take into account, and the biggest is always the hurdle of moving everything over to a new system,” said Johnson. She spoke specifically about 417’s recent decision to move all of its HR processes to a new system and merge them with its payroll system. “We formerly used a free solution (for HR) … but sometimes a free solution can have real costs in time for a person to manage every day. We found that a better, paid solution improved efficiency and accuracy – but it costs time up front.”

And no major system change should be taken lightly. Reese noted the possibility of sending your company in the wrong direction by choosing the wrong new tool – especially in a sea of potential options.

Harris agreed. “We’re always getting information about new tools, but we know we’ve worked hard to get pretty close to optimized now,” he said. “So unless something really is broken and we’re consistently having trouble offering value to clients because of a tool, we’re not moving.”

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