We all know that our work is more than just the tools we use. However, the right tools can make all the difference. The question is, how do you find the right tools? For myself, I’m constantly on the lookout for any tool that will improve not only my work, but team’s as well.
Below are three tools that our communications team can’t live without. One of them is custom (but you can replicate it), another is our email killer and finally our tool for creating all of our communication pieces. I’ve also included three tools that I use everyday to get work done.
Commreq.com is our custom website that our church staff can fill out when they have a video, design or web request. By creating a central point for our staff to make requests, we avoid trading multiple emails with staff trying to collect the information that we need for projects.
Once a staff member makes a request on the website, their information is automatically populated into our project management system (LiquidPlanner). From there we can make assignments, set deadlines and flesh out timelines.
We also have reporting page on Commreq.com. This allows church staff to see where we are on their respective projects and if we we’re waiting on them for additional information.
If you want to do something similar to this, you don’t have to create a custom website like ours. You can easily create a form through services like Wufoo or Google Docs. These forms can then populate an Excel grid for you to use.
I don’t like email. I feel odd composing a short message that could have been a text message, yet I don’t want to text message because most phone text messaging platforms are limiting (sending files, group messages, etc..). However, I need instant communication between my team and I. This rang true during a recent ice storm that shut down the church for almost three days.
All the reasons above are the why I love Slack. First, it’s fast like text messaging (in some cases faster), you can send files, create channels for multiple conversations amongst team members (i.e. design, web, social media) and have private conversations. Also all your conversations are archived for later reference.
Since I work down the hall from the rest of my team, Slack has been great at keeping communications flowing during the workday and making sure that I’m not holding anyone up from getting work done. There’s also and iPhone app which allows me to continue conversations when I’m away from the church.
The best part is that for most part it’s free. I say “most part”, because there are some features are limited to paid users, but I’ve not found this to be an issue.
Adobe Creative Cloud
I have a love/hate relationship with Adobe products. Lately though, it’s become much more of love relationship with the introduction of Creative Cloud. With Creative Cloud, our team members have access to the latest Adobe products and I no longer have to deal with keeping up with licenses and software discs.
Instead, our team members install the Adobe Cloud installer and select the apps they need on their machine. I love this because some of my team members just need one or two applications, while others need multiple applications to get the job done.
I’m also a big fan of the fact each user can install the software on two different machines. This was huge deal for us during the recent ice storm, as our designers were able to work at home and get majority of their work done despite being away from their office machines.
Three Tools That I Can’t Live Without
There are moments when I need to make comments on a design and I need to do it very quickly. So in moments like that, Photoshop is really cumbersome. So instead of Photoshop, I use Skitch. Skitch is a lightweight tool that lets me comment and mark up images or screenshots quickly.
Skitch sits in your menu bar (if your on a Mac) and can be controlled by a few keystrokes. Need to take a screenshot of your screen and mark up the changes you want to see? Skitch can do that. You can draw arrows, highlight various areas and write comments on whatever you capture. It also syncs with Evernote which means your marked up screenshots can be seen on whatever device has Evernote installed.
Of course, Skitch is free, which is awesome.
Where would I be with out Evernote? Evernote is my personal brain. It contains meeting notes, pdfs, articles I need to read and blog post drafts. Here’s the thing about Evernote, it’s one of the few pieces of software where you can throw anything in there (text, pdf, word doc) and not worry about it. Why? Because the Evernote’s search tool so good that it can find anything.
Now why should you use Evernote? Well first, it’s on every major platform. Second it has a clipping tool that you can install on your web browser to save images, articles or links that you want to keep and finally, it’s free.
Now if want to use some of cool features like offline notebooks, OCR search and emailing notes to your Evernote account, then you’ll need premium account ($5 a month/$50 a year). However, you can save money by going to eBay and buying a discounted subscription (I paid $11 for year of Evernote premium).
What tools do you use for your communications team? Click here to share below.