At any given point, there are a number of activities that are occurring in your online business. And the bigger your business gets, the more you take on, and generally, the more complex your businesses' activities get as well.
A snapshot of activity in one of my clients' coaching businesses might show the following concurrent and overlapping activities:
- coaching and training programs are being delivered or accessed,
- product launches are being planned or are in progress,
- marketing campaigns and activities are being planned or executed online and in print,
- live and virtual events are being planned or are happening
- content is being planned, curated, and delivered (articles, speaking events, marketing pieces)
- ... the list goes on
Without a properly set up project management system in place, it's easy to lose sight of what's actually going on in any given project or activity. Balls get dropped. Clients get frustrated. Revenue is lost.
You Need a Project Management System
As an Online Business Manager (OBM), I use a project management system to manage all the projects, milestones and tasks associated with the activities in the business on a daily basis. It is the center point of the virtual office for my clients' businesses.
The PM System gives me a bird's-eye view of what team members are working on and where they're at on tasks. I use the system to plan ahead and make sure everyone (including the business owner) has what they need coming up tomorrow, this week and beyond. I check it at the start of each day, and it stays open in my browser all day long. It's that essential.
For any project management system to work, you need to follow two very important rules:
- The system must be managed and updated regularly. I recommend daily.
- Everyone on your team must use the system, including you, the business owner!
Now, that doesn't mean that you should be in there setting up projects, managing milestones or following up on tasks. Your team lead, or in many cases, your Online Business Manager, should be doing this for you. But you need to know where to go (how to log in) so that you can see what's going on at any given time.
You'll need to be able to have a high-level sense of the activities that are going on so that you can make educated decisions in your business planning on an ongoing basis.
What System Should I Use?
There are a number of different systems and combinations that I've seen clients use for managing their business and virtual office. There are options that are free, and some that are paid.
Here's a selection of project management systems and tools that I have tried and would recommend. Every business is different and is going to have different needs. It's okay to take some time in choosing and testing out different systems until you find the one that works best for you.
And quite honestly, nothing will be absolutely perfect - meaning you're not likely to find one thing that has every feature that you want.
I've often overheard other OBM's lament the lack of the "perfect" project management tool or system. My hope is that someone answers our plea and creates a kick-ass system that doesn't break the bank.