Dinkum Interactive is nearly five years old, and we’ve grown steadily since we started helping small businesses and nonprofits promote themselves online in 2006. However, if you take a look at our company’s growth, the last 18 months stands out as a particular dynamic time. New clients always means two things: more work and more resources needed to accomplish that work at a high level.
As we’ve expanded, our methods of communication and collaboration have been put to the test. As a truly virtual company, we naturally leverage a wide variety of tools to keep our client projects on track, and also to engage all employees in the direction and “vibe” of the company.
Each company or organization we work with communicates differently. In fact, one of the first questions we ask new clients is: How do you like to best communicate? We’ve received some fairly intricate answers to that question, but usually it’s a mix of email and telephone. However, a more interesting question might be: how do you best collaborate? I’d be very interested in the answer to that! So, to kick it off I’m listing the tools and processes that Dinkum utilizes to collaborate among nearly 20 team members.
SKYPE – We rely on skype a lot. We hold our weekly company-wide meetings on Skype each Monday at 10am, and most team members chat frequently during the day and late into the night utilizing this ubiquitous tool. Interestingly, since eBay recently sold Skype back to its original developers (and a team of private equity investors) they’ve really started innovating for business users: check out the mobile versions but especially the business management tool. As a side note: Skype is now doing a pretty great job of showing the value of their product for a variety of customers on their website, while retaining the “fun” and personal vibe that made it the world’s most popular chat and online voice communication tool.
Bantam Live – We fondly call this the “Batcave”. As with any project management tool, it’s not what you have it’s how you use it. The key is discipline, and that’s a hard thing to enforce when you’re a growing business full of creative and technical folks. We chose Bantam over some of our previous tools for one reason: integration. For instance, simply connecting Bantam to our Google Apps accounts enabled us to have access to all of each other’s contacts directly in the project manager, as well as push/pull things to Google Calendar.
Google Apps – Love it or hate it, for us Google Apps just works. It’s easy to provision accounts, integrates nicely with a huge variety of mobile devices, and expands in both features and space as the business grows. Plus, we’re in the business of knowing Google’s business, and this is a pretty good way to stay close to the 800 Pound Gorilla of the internet.
Dropbox – If you don’t know about Dropbox by now, we’re sorry. We’re also very happy to invite you to use it (and get a bit of free MB’s of storage for each other – just email me and I’ll hook you up!). Dropbox’s 100 GB plan helps me sleep easy at night – it means that files are synched across all my various computers, that I can access them in a pinch from my Nexus One or iPhone, and that I can easily share massive amounts of quickly-changing design or other files with my team; and all of it is backed up forever.
Wunderlist – This is a new addition to the collaboration toolbox, and I’m not even sure how many team members use it – however I love it and so I’ll happily plug it. Wunderlist is, simply put, the prettiest and easiest little task manager I’ve found. It sync’s with all my computers and expand limitlessly. Sorry http://www.rememberthemilk.com/ it was fun while it lasted!
Needless to say, there are a thousand great tools out there and new ones each day. However we find that the key to successful collaboration, whether it is with clients or colleagues, is a mix of two things: organization and communication. Whatever helps you do that best is probably the tool you should be using.