As an SEO manager, I have always found that the biggest challenge is developing and facilitating the team processes required to complete the numerous tasks involved in content marketing, on page optimisation, outreach and link building. The skills required in each process are so different, and the processes themselves must be rigid in order to be manageable, measurable and consistent throughout a growing organisation.
Like anyone struggling with a growing team I have been on a constant quest for automation, process improvement and ways to manage my teams more easily.
The Early Days
In the early days my head was turned by Asana, available at Asana.com. The software enabled me to create conversations and project flow without having to organise specific meetings, updates and new tasks. The flow from start of work to finish was good, but as my eyes were further opened to the software possibilities available I felt it was insufficient in its early ‘free’ form to deliver the functionality that I required.
My next port of call was basecamp.com. Now, Basecamp has incredibly intuitive functionality that enables you to quickly assign work to team members. It brings together discussions on projects, and enables the easy integration of different assets into a team environment. With schedules, milestones and deadlines the software provided me with a good system, but it lacked the functional flexibility to enable the creation of processes that really drove the business forward. It just felt a little bit rigid, and unable to adapt to different processes to really give them a sense of robustness.
My exploration of the team and project management arena next moved to teamwork.com. With project categories, prioritisation, multiple task lists and the management of time estimates and people it was an attractive option. The higher pricing tier came with increased flexibility, but again I personally found it difficult to manage multiple workflows from the one piece of software.
Finally, A Solution I Really Liked
My search continued on to Trello.com. I have tried the free and paid versions and it has proved an excellent solution for lining out and managing complicated jobs. It helps to make my people true stakeholders in the project, with the ability to send work both ways and provide comments and feedback that integrates nicely into what I feel is a well-designed, flexible system.
The Trello card system is intuitive and the management interface enables you to integrate different team members in different ways to enable a process flow that fits your organisation.
It is real-time, really fast and is one of the most flexible project management solutions out there at the moment, and works particularly well for my link building tasks and on-page optimisation tasks. For SEO project tasks it is simply excellent.
What Was Missing?
So, I was happy with Trello, but I still felt my project management system was lacking. I sought to understand how different project management solutions could further enhance the flexibility and effectiveness of my search engine optimisation processes. My next step was naturally to seek software that would complement Trello, and take care of some of its shortcomings. Although the comments system in Trello is suited to simple messages, it doesn’t, in my opinion, have the interactive feel that I require, so I turned to slack.com.
Now, slack.com enables you to have multiple teams and conversations and provide your people with a transparent view of the state of projects. Messages can be passed between individuals or small groups, and conversations can draw in the required stakeholders in a truly intuitive way. The multichannel communication can incorporate video, voice and text, and there is a repository for the storage and dissemination of documents, spreadsheets, PDFs, images and even videos.
The automatic index feature and archiving provided in Slack ensures that you can always find any conversation or asset that you need; and quickly.
Slack provided me what had been missing in my organisation; namely a way for my teams to collaborate on tasks and to feel part of a strong process. It created conversations within my organisation that simply didn’t happen before, and information sharing that made, and is making, a difference to numerous client projects, and informs every aspect of the organisation. Suddenly I was able to provide resources from outreach, such as best practice articles, to the content marketing team, and I could point on page SEO experts at best practice research in the niche which they were working.
With Trello and Slack I feel like I have a system for managing complex processes and projects, and effective communication within my organisation. I next looked teammate.com, and the Google Chrome extension, in order to create tasks from different sources, such as Trello, Jira, Bitbucket, Asana and Posodio.
The solution was perhaps overcomplicating things for me. It was superfluous for my team.
The Final Piece Of The Jigsaw
What I realised I am really needed was a system for client management and contract management.
The majority of what I had was internal, and unable to provide me with the interface that is required to have effective communication and collaboration with clients.
I found my organisation was being developed in a downstream instead of a multi-stream flow and that the feedback from clients wasn’t necessarily getting to the team as well as it should. The software I turned to was prosperworks.com. Prosperworks is a customer relationship management system for Google suite and integrates beautifully with slides, calendar Google sheets, Gmail and so forth. In essence, it puts a customer relationship management system into your inbox, so that you can build reports and facilitate the client process in a more organised manner.
Built with Google’s material design philosophy, Prosperworks is a simple and clean interface that really works.
That is where my journey in team and project management has led me to. Slack, Trello, Prosper Works provide all the functionality I need with a measure of TeamWeek thrown in for projects involving multiple stakeholders. These provide collaboration, process flexibility, transparency and the ability to continually improve how I run my teams.
The journey to what I use at the moment could have gone different ways, and much of where I am now using was down to my personal preferences and perception of the flexibility of different products. However, I would recommend this combination of tools to any SEO looking to get more out of their people and processes, and to develop a robust framework for delivering high-level services to their clients.