Systemize and Automate Part 4: Communication

Just as it can be confusing to have people cross-communicating online all over the place, so it can be confusing when graphics, text, apps, programs, and other online content are delivered piecemeal.
Document Sharing Systems – One of the greatest ways to help automate your business and cut down on questions:  Use a Cloud sharing system.  That way, everyone can access project folders (or you can restrict access to certain folders) – but everything is in one place and, as one VA recently put it, “you know where to look, without having to think about it”.
TIP:  Provide video training to all new staff (or provide the links to existing video training) in how to use the Cloud storage system of your choice.  When interviewing, ask if the candidate is familiar with that system.
There are various Cloud storage systems.  Some are free; some require monthly payments – there is bound to be one out there that suits your business and budget.  Here are three of the most popular…
1. Google Drive – The old Google Docs revamped.
10-Google Drive
2. Dropbox – One of the most popular free Cloud systems to date

You download Dropbox to your desktop and it looks just like any other folder – but people you collaborate with online have to be invited to share your folders.  (And they can invite you to share theirs.)

3. Basecamp – Geared specifically to project management, this system is not free:  However, there is a 45-day free trial and it starts at only $20 per month.




Basecamp allows you to see all your projects at a glance; all your contractors; individual notes and conversations; and a calendar for each person, as well as projects.
13-Basecamp Calendar


In the conversation section for each project, your virtual team members are able to upload Profile photos, so each has a visual of the person she is conversing with.  This can help people feel more connected.

A little balloon appears beside the project listing, if there is a message to be read.

14-Basecamp balloon





This balloon changes color if you input a reply, plus the number of messages is displayed, so you can easily see just by glancing at your calendar if there are new messages.  (Besides which, a notification is sent to your email address too.)

If you only have one or two or three members in your team, Google Drive and Dropbox may be just what you need.

If you have more than two or three team members, Basecamp will save you a lot of time and confusion – and ultimately will be well worth the return on investment.