For our agency to focus on getting tasks done, we need website project management software that handles large projects & fluid teams—and feels effortless. At least it can’t get in the way too much.
Project management is hugely important for structuring projects and keeping clients happy. The challenge is finding one that fills your specific needs. Recently at WordCamp Orlando, a panel speaker said of website project management tools, “They’re all terrible…just pick the one that’s the least terrible for you.” Unfortunately, there’s some truth in that.
Searching for the Perfect Match
Agencies frequently bounce between project management software, seeking the best solution for their current needs. We’ve tried a list of them: AgileZen, Asana, Apollo, Basecamp, CodeBasehq, Harvest, TeamWork, Jira, and most recently Trello. Our favorite project management software, or the least of all evils, was Trello. (And many of us still use it to manage our personal lives.) We love the Kanban views in Trello, and how easy it is for clients to jump in and understand.
However, our team outgrew the practical usefulness of Trello. A few reasons Trello fell short were: no time tracking, no nested tickets, no calendar view, and no overall view of projects. It just got messy. When running a large project, and running it Agile, you’ve got to keep a handle on the budget and the team. Trello just couldn’t keep up.
So our hunt continued…
Why We Moved to Wrike
Wrike is a project management software with tremendous flexibility. You make folders (aka projects) and nest them within other folders. It’s a very simple concept really, but it works. Each folder has tasks and time logged to it, and each folder can have multiple views. It’s powerful, and it’s scalable for a large team.
1. We wanted a one-stop-shop.
We want our team to use only one application daily for project management. This includes viewing tasks, managing project requirements documents, calendars, and tracking time. We also want to manage client projects, internal projects, and our Holacracy circles in one place.
Previously, we used Apollo to log time and handle contacts. We managed project tickets in Trello. And we used Google Docs for general project information—linking docs in Trello to tickets. Wowzers!
We were missing a central hub that was truly accessible and organized. (We wanted it to feel like a well-oiled machine!) The different user interfaces and steps involved in accomplishing tasks were heavier than necessary.
How Wrike Helps: Wrike consolidates project overviews, tickets, and time logging. It provides a calendar view of each project and all projects. If you’d like to book a designer—no problem, we have an immediate view the next schedule opening.
We’ve eliminated the disconnect (& wasted time) with using multiple apps. Scheduling is easier, thanks to a dynamic view of team availability.
2. We wanted better metrics.
We need to quickly see time we estimate on a task versus with how long the task is taking to complete. Estimated time versus time worked was tracked in Trello with Scrum Chrome plugins, or on a spreadsheet.
How Wrike Helps: Wrike simplifies the process. It provides this valuable metric for our team. Estimates are no longer in separate documents, but can be added as a field on Wrike tickets.
3. We wanted an overview of what all team members are working on.
What are all the tasks (on all projects) on her plate? Good question, right?
How Wrike Helps: Wrike shows an overview (filterable by each person) of tasks team members are working on. This helps for booking our time into the entire year.
4. We wanted project timelines with dependencies.
We need to see all tasks, dependencies, and who blocks who.
How Wrike Helps: Wrike allows us to look at a timeline of all project tickets. We can see from start to finish which tasks happen first, and who’s working on them. It shows us dependencies, informing us why a task can’t go forward.
Bonus! We can even export the timeline easily as a visual snapshot for the client to see.
5. We wanted nested tickets.
Sometimes we just need nested tickets. A ticket called “Home Page” can get over-cluttered.
How Wrike Helps: Wrike offers nested ticket and subtasks. (Side note: we wished these would vanish when complete.)
6. We wanted flexibility & templates.
We need to drag tasks from one project to another with ease. We want to create template tickets for a project, and drop them anywhere.
How Wrike Helps: With Wrike, we can drag tasks one folder to another (but not sub tasks). We can also make set folders of template tasks & quickly duplicate/move them. Starting a new website audit project? No problem, we duplicate all the template tasks, and drop them in the new client folder in seconds.
7. We wanted Google Docs integration.
We write proposal and produce lots of documentation in Google docs, so we wanted this to tie right into our tickets.
How Wrike Helps: Wrike links to our Google docs! Our files are right there on the tickets.
8. Custom Workflows are important.
We go through different workflow processes for tasks depending on department. A ticket in a website development project goes through one workflow. A blog post we write goes through another workflow. A new sale in our sales department goes through a totally different workflow.
How Wrike Helps: We can specify a workflow for each folder. And it’s EASY to use!
9. Seamless handoff between departments is important.
We don’t want to jump project management softwares to handle internal projects, client projects, ongoing support projects, design projects, Holacray circles, and sales & outreach. We wanted smooth handoff.
Also, our clients jump from one department to another at Valet: for example, we may wrap up a custom web development project for a client, then hand them over to our Ongoing Support department, then they may come back for an Audit, or may go back to custom development for another iteration of their website.
How Wrike Helps: Wrike helps with our handoff process, so our clients seamlessly go from one department to another. Since our staff is working in one project management software, jumping from outreach to internal to custom development is a quick, easier experience.
10. We wanted project & client overviews.
We needed a quick project overview. This overview includes a synopsis of the project, links to certain creds, client contact info, latest deliverables, recent status reports, and other relevant documentation.
How Wrike Helps: Each project folder in Wrike provides an info view. This is great for giving our team a quick overview of the project and helping find client info in a snap.
11. Status updates should be easy.
We send our clients a status report weekly on work we accomplish on custom development projects. So, we need to export tasks and show them on an accurate timeline. To make life easy on our project managers, this info should be quick to obtain.
How Wrike Helps: Wrike filters tasks by folder, team, and time just brilliantly. It also exports visual timeline images that can be included in weekly reporting. This is a one-click feature that clients love.
12. We needed to manage our Knowledge Base.
Our team runs a Knowledge Base with instructional articles, internal process, HR docs, and other info. We wanted this to live in the same place as client and internal projects.
How Wrike Helps: Wrike made this easy. We just created another folder and organized subfolders by Knowledge Base topic. This also allows us to easily task team members with writing articles for our Knowledgebase that are needed.
Do We Miss Trello?
At times, we miss the clear history in the Kanban board. We miss the instant view of which tickets are in Up Next, Review, Ready for Launch, Backlogged, and Finished Last Week. If Wrike ever brought in a Kanban view, we’d be all over it! However, what we miss is minimal compared with what we’re enjoying now with Wrike.
Managing Your Project Start-to-Finish
If you’re looking for a team to help manage your next website development project, get in touch. We truly believe in working productively as an agency. We provide clear workflows and transparency in our process—and we’re grateful to Wrike for helping make our client experiences even better!