Simplifying the process of task management and collaboration for design project using Dropbox Paper
Establishing an effective design process is hard. There are a lot of different things that should be taken into account when crafting a product and it’s really very hard to keep all of them in mind. That’s why choosing a task management tool is one of the first, and definitely one of the most critical decisions product team make. Efficient task management tool not only allows a team to see what it’s working on, but the tool also improves the collaboration inside the team.
In this article, you’ll find a list of requirements that will help you choose the right task management tool. You’ll also see how Dropbox Paper can help product teams improve task management.
Six basic requirements for choosing the right task management tool
1. Have everything in one place
Design projects include lots of meeting notes, files with UI design, feedback and tasks. All too often all those artifacts are located in different places. It happens because a team uses various tools for collaboration and communication. This approach has three fundamental problems:
- It’s relatively easy to lose important details when all of them are located in different places. When a team uses many different tools to track task progress, the focus continuously switches between the tools. As a result, not only productivity suffers, but also it could lead to a much worse outcome — fragmented knowledge — a situation when a team member misses an essential piece of information and being unaware of it.
- Team members have to spend extra time searching for the latest design artifacts. It’s quite a common situation when team members ask questions like “Where can I find the latest version of our design?” or “Is the revision #8 contain our latest changes? Are these the right files I’m looking at?”
- Team members have to learn how to use different tools. Imagine a situation when a new member joins the team and the first things they hear is “Congratulations, today is your first day. Welcome aboard! Now can you create accounts for all these tools we use here and learn them real quick?”
It’s vital to have a single place that your team can use to work on projects.
2. Minimize the time required to learn the tool and the effort required to use the tool
Ease of use plays a vital role in tools acceptance. Similar to any other product people use, the learning curve (i.e., the time required to learn how to use a tool) and interaction cost (i.e., the cognitive or physical effort needed to complete an action) has a significant impact on user experience. The more time and effort required to use a product, the less motivated people will be to use it.
Each time when you think about selecting a particular tool, think about how well this tool will work for your team. This moment is especially important for the task management tools — the time required to learn a tool should be minimal. The basic operations such as creating, modifying and assigning tasks should be intuitive even for first-time users.
3. Stay on top of the tasks
The easier it is to see and respond to everyone’s work, the easier it is to manage a project. Choose a task management tool that will give you a high-level perspective of everyone’s assigned tasks and contributions in one place.
4. Create effective internal communications
Communication plays a critical role in the design process. When it comes to product design, it’s essential for all team members to be on the same page during all stages of the design process.
Centralize all communications
In today’s world, we communicate via a variety of tools: from traditional email to online messengers such as Skype or Slack. When team members have to switch from a task-management tool to another tool for communication, it introduces a negative impact on productivity. Worse, some valuable information can get lost during the transition (for example, a valuable email might end up in a spam folder).
Task management tool should be not just a place where you have all the tasks, but it should also be a central place for all your communications.
Prevent the fear of missing out (FOMO)
Fear of missing out (FOMO) is a huge problem today. Many design teams suffer from this social anxiety — they spend a lot of time in communication tools because they are afraid to miss an important piece of information. Such behavior can introduce a lot of distraction in the design process — it’s all too easy to waste the whole day checking messages.
Team members should spend less time on communication tools and more time in tools they use to design (tools for prototyping and development). A communication tool should serve vital information just when team members need it — the tool should have an effective mechanism of notification.
5. Integrate the tool with existing tools
Design team uses many different tools during the design process. The toolbox usually contains the specific tools for prototyping & development and a place to collect design artifacts such as Dropbox. When the task management tool integrates seamlessly with other tools a team uses on a regular basis, it brings a lot of benefits to the team. For example, it feels great when you can save a prototype on a cloud storage drive, copy & paste the link to the task management tool and see a preview of a prototype right in the context of a task.
6. Keep the team motivated
Having the right atmosphere inside the collective is extremely important. Happier employees are more productive in the workplace. That’s why team leaders should continually look for ways to increase engagement and motivate team players. The great news is that the digital tools we use can help us with that.
Easy way to express emotions
It’s natural for people to seek acknowledgment. The need for social approval drives all of us to look for confirmation from people we care about (our friends or family) or respect (our colleagues or mentors). When someone recognizes the results of our work by saying something like “Great job!”, it becomes clear to us that our work is valuable and we feel motivated to work towards our goals. That’s why it’s so crucial for team players to get acknowledged, especially when working remotely. At the same time, it might be hard to express emotions when you don’t share the same physical space. But with the right task management tool, you can do it.
Task management tool should provide rich ways to express emotions. When a team member completes a very important task, it’s not enough to post a comment “Great job!” You need to celebrate the success with team members — send animated stickers or emoji. This approach helps to get to the heart of the feedback much faster than using plain words. This type of feedback will give your colleagues a sense of how their work makes people feel.
Dropbox Paper is a workspace where teams can collaborate and coordinate — all in one place. Paper offers real-time editing features right alongside to do lists, making it easier to plan projects, run brainstorms, hold meetings, and review work.
This tool can introduce a lot of benefits for design teams. Here are just some of them:
Dropbox Paper has a simple, clean, minimalistic interface. The formatting options are pretty basic — all styling options such as font family, font size and font color are pre-selected, and you can’t modify them. From the first glance this design decision looks like a limitation, but in reality, it brings a significant benefit to users — it makes them focus entire attention on what’s really important — task management. With simple formatting options, you can spend less time dealing with content management, and more time collaborating on important work.
Ease of use
One of the most significant advantages of Paper is its intuitiveness. Regardless of whether you’ve used a task management app before, Dropbox Paper can be used up with no training because most people are familiar with text editors.
Using Dropbox Paper, it’s
- Easy to create tasks. It doesn’t need a thousand clicks to set up a task. Creating a task using Dropbox Paper is not harder than writing a sentence in a text editor.
- Easy to mark a task as completed. Team members can check off their tasks as they complete them.
- Easy to delegate task. All you need to do to assign task is to tag team member. When you tag someone, they’ll immediately receive a notification about that.
- Easy to add due dates to to-dos. Paper allows you to assign tasks and due dates to yourself or teammates.
Gather all the information in one place
As was mentioned before, when vital information is distributed among many different channels (e.g., emails, messengers, etc.) this can cause fragmented knowledge.
With Paper, teams can centralize their work in one place. The tool allows a team to work together in the same document in real time. It guarantees that all team members always have the latest information about the project.
Stay on top of the tasks
Dropbox Paper brings a significant benefit to project managers — the tool makes it easy to see what needs to be done in a very simple way. You can click on ‘Things to do’ (from the top right menu), and you’ll see what task on whom. Any member of your team can see this information. As a result, it creates a high level of transparency and builds trust & accountability.
Discuss each task in the context
With Paper, you no longer need to use email for internal communication. Paper allows for communication in the context of each task. You can provide additional information in comments right next to the task. Since all team players who participate in a project are able to see the information, everyone on the team feels connected.
Tailor the tool to your needs
All designers know that no two design project be entirely the same. Each design project has its own specifics, and it’s vital that the task management tool can be adaptable for that specific.
Dropbox Paper has a significant advantage over many other task management tools — it’s very adaptable. The format it uses (text document) is very flexible. As a result, it’s relatively easy to create a format that will work the best for your project.
Templates for common activities
As the name suggests, templates are reusable units. Using templates comes handy when the design team follows the same activities for each new project it works on. When it comes to crafting a new product, a team doesn’t need to start from scratch; it can reuse the work it did before — a multitude of templates allow a team to start quickly.
Let’s take a prototype validation as an example. Most probably you have a list of things you need to do before a prototype can be sent to developers. Using Dropbox Paper, you can break down this major activity into smaller to-do steps and save it as “Prototype Review” template. Use this template for each project you work on.
Built-in integration with Dropbox
Dropbox users will benefit from using Dropbox Paper because it integrates with Dropbox file storage right from the box. If you use Dropbox, you can paste links to screenshots, documentation, or even interactive prototypes (such as InVision or Framer interactive prototype) and Paper will pull them.
Give a thumb up to your teammates’ work
Dropbox Paper allows you to liven up comments with GIFs. It has a built-in collection of GIFs so that you can select an appropriate when responding to teammates. It’s not only creates a sense of acknowledgement but it also introduces a bit of personality to your comments.
Effective design process brings people and ideas together. The task management tool plays a vital role in establishing this process — it helps teams love the way they work. Choose a tool that makes a process more collaborative and more fun.
This is a sponsored post for Dropbox. All opinions are my own. Dropbox is not affiliated with nor endorses any other products or services mentioned.
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