Absolute.org is a non-profit engaging hundreds of thousands of students through school programs and humanitarian relief work.
Interview with Ryan Wood, COO at Absolute.org
I'm the Chief Operating Officer at Absolute.org. This is a charitable non-profit organization that sparks pivotal life change through our innovative and strategically linked school motivational and humanitarian programs. We call this "Exponential Philanthropy", making a difference globally by reaching out to youth locally and empowering them to be the solution, creating hope and change for both students and the people they help. I'm in charge of all kinds of things there, as my key duties include operational oversight, business and fundraising planning, financial management and IT solutions. We started our search for project management software when we realized the need for a tool to collaboratively manage our tasks and workflow. We had great systems in place to collaborate on content (Confluence wiki) and sales (Salesforce CRM), but nothing to create the same organization and management of projects and tasks.
I have reviewed, researched or tested many other tools, and we have tried JIRA issue tracker. It is amazing software and very powerful, too, but it was oriented to software development and a little slow to use, so it was not adopted by our largely non-technical staff. Then, during my research, I came across a blog post about "best of breed" Web 2.0 tools. This is how I arrived at Wrike.
There was no formal system for organizing projects and workflow before we adopted Wrike. Projects and task would be managed ad-hoc through email or verbal communication. This, of course, provided no collaboration, tracking or insight into the organization's workflow or projects, and it resulted in numerous unfinished or lost tasks. Wrike gave us a shared system to track and manage tasks, so now our staff has a great view of the status of any project. Each team member can see what is happening on the projects that he or she is involved in. All the project schedules are up-to-date, as the changes made by other team members are seen in real time.
Wrike's smart email integration allowed us to boost team communications and easily attach them to our project plans. This is vital for a big team like ours. There are about 18 people that use Wrike in our organization today, and about half of our users are usually in different locations. The importance of effective project communications for us seems very hard to overestimate. We are largely dependent on email, and for our team, Wrike's email integration turned out to be a life-saver. Being able to create tasks by simply forwarding a project-related email to Wrike does save a lot of time. Discussion on a task is often done through email. But the biggest benefit is that, thanks to Wrike's Email Engine, the discussion can also be found online and is accessible from any computer in our Wrike workspace. Wrike's email notification system helps to keep everyone on the team in the loop. Therefore, much fewer tasks are lost, and more items are completed on time.
I'd say it is the ability to share project-related data and have oversight of the entire team's workflow. As the most experienced user, I feel that Wrike has helped me become 75% more organized in managing my work and in tracking delegated tasks.
Remember that no matter how slick the system is, it always means investing a little time and effort upfront to organize your work, in order to get a huge long-term return in efficiency, productivity and stress reduction. The system cannot do all the work for you; however, a good system will make your life a lot easier. In this regard, Wrike is the best you can get, as it makes the process quick, painless and intuitive.
I think Wrike has an ideal balance for a project management system. It is extensive enough to handle a variety of workflows and processes and actually be useful. But is also intuitive, fast and user-friendly enough to actually be used.
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