Blog / Tools of Change

The theme of this year’s Web of Change was “Winning!” and one of the sessions I found most interesting had to do with the tools organizations use to support, promote and manage their work. While ideas are the foundation of change, nothing can be implemented without the use of digital tools.

At this session attendees shared the tools they use in their day to day activities (planning and executing campaigns, analysing data, internal communications and file sharing). I’ve documented that list here. I consider this to be a living document as tools are changing on a daily basis, please let me know if there is anything you believe should be added.

Another topic of interest was how certain tools could be combined together to make them collectively more powerful, such as using Skitch (to take and annotate screenshots) together with Balsamiq (a hosted wireframing application) to streamline the user experience design process.

The breakout session that I participated in went in a different direction - how can you use existing tools to accomplish tasks they weren’t originally designed for? Case in point - the request in the group was “Does anyone know of an editorial calendar tool, something that will assign, publish and track results of content across all platforms?” This got a lot of oohs and aahs and seemed to be the holy grail for campaign managers.

I pointed out that such a tool would likely be a very expensive custom solution and there was an option that could provide much of the needed functionality at a much lower cost. Editorial strategy is generally defined in a stand-alone document, the challenge for teams seemed to be tracking the production of the individual content items required by that strategy. This seems to me to be very similar to the task of building a website - many individual tasks generated by the overall design and strategy.

To manage these tasks I use a task management tool (in my case Redmine, available as free open source software). This allows me to set up individual projects for each site and assign tasks to individual developers within the project. Something similar could be done for change organizations. They could set up projects for all their different platforms (e.g. main site, campaign sites, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and assign writing assignments as tasks to individuals in their organization.

Each task could have a description, a start and end date, be sorted by category and include a comment thread for questions that come up during the research and writing process. The completed content could be included in the task as an attachment and then assigned back to the campaign manager to arrange for publishing (if that is the workflow in the organization).

The task management tool itself would not be able to track performance of the individual pieces of content but the manager could include links to the relevant analytics systems that are collecting data on each piece to simplify data analysis.

While the exact setup would vary based on an organization's unique requirements I think its likely that a task management tool is flexible enough to meet many needs. We might find we have the tools we need, we just need to use them more creatively.

Please contact us if you want to talk about how to use task management tools to help meet your organizations needs.

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