At Top Stories, we help brands leverage their stories in building long-lasting relationships with their followers. We like to think of ourselves as an outsourced communications department that encourages brands to pinpoint their target audiences, meditate on the content they want to communicate, shape their own styles of communication and, ultimately, launch their message into the world. This is our mission.
Needless to say, we often find ourselves working on projects that are not as strategic in nature, such as content and video production projects. These types of projects are in the hands of our in-house video production team, which is made up of five talented people whom I supervise. And while our line of work is split between two departments at the organizational level – content solutions and creative – the two often work in tandem to create captivating multimedia stories.
More Than Just Time Tracking
We have been using ActiveCollab for five years. When we first introduced it into our daily routines, we only used it to track time. Then, we slowly started discovering there were other handy features and tools available on the platform. We started managing entire projects and splitting tasks within ActiveCollab by creating client profiles and inviting clients to collaborate on the platform.
Today, we also use ActiveCollab to measure expenses. We’re incorporating this essential financial business aspect into ActiveCollab and trying to bring all core business processes to one platform. Our goal for the next year is to incorporate within ActiveCollab everything we do, from the creative part and finance to new business prospects, and to merge all these processes on a single platform.
We want to limit our use of email and have everything under one umbrella, but it is sometimes difficult to invite clients to create an ActiveCollab account. We mostly use the tools they are used to in order to be on the same page and make communication and file sharing as easy as possible for them.
We would love to bring clients to ActiveCollab as well and start opening up the projects externally as well to make the workflow smoother. Personally, I think that this is easier to achieve with small clients and small projects. We will try to test it out with some small clients in the future, just to see if they will accept this workflow and this process, and see how it goes.
We have an external accounting provider, so we are limited by their choice and way of working. They draw up invoices for us using old-school software, which generates a PDF that we send out to our clients. We would love to use the proposal, budgeting, and invoicing features within ActiveCollab as well, and this is a mission for the next year.
Currently, we use the time tracking feature for our internal purposes only. We track our time to see if our budget adjustments are done the right way or not. It is also hard to expect each of the team members to track their time in detail. Thus, we are not precise by the minute, but we have a window of usually half an hour which is enough to have an overview of tasks.
Both my colleagues and I would like to improve the Workload feature, which is essential, even crucial, for our day-to-day work. Being the supervisor of our production team, it is very important for me to know who is working on what each day and how many hours they spend on each task. I really use time estimates a lot in ActiveCollab as I find the feature to be highly practical.
The reporting aspect is also very strong and powerful. I really like having the ability to have control over the targeted budget and the currently used budget. Also, the notification that lets you know when you are getting closer to the estimated budget is really a great feature to have.
Some Final Thoughts
Summing it up by looking at the side panel in ActiveCollab and all the tools and features that it offers, I can say that we use it regularly, every day or even every hour of the day, especially the Projects, Calendar, People, Estimates, and Workload tabs. We are still working on the goal to start using the Invoices feature as well. This will be our next step.
I think that, overall, ActiveCollab is a great tool. I do not think of it as a tool, but rather a comprehensive and complete platform that enables us to have full control and overview our projects, assign tasks, make time estimates, and compare them to the tracked hours.
Author: Mitja Godnič, Executive Producer at Top Stories