In the post:
01:35 – Some names in management software
05:04 – The considerations behind dapulse
06:42 – How it works with teams
10:52 – When used for task management…
13:22 – dapulse in the coaching field
16:05 – Go simple or complex?
16:55 – Value for e-commerce companies
20:03 – Coming very soon…
21:24 – What should you focus on?
24:29 – The post-travel inbox nightmare
28:50 – How the software came about
32:39 – Common mistakes to avoid
38:33 – Summing things up
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James: James Schramko here, welcome back to SuperFastBusiness.com. Today, I’m speaking with Matthew Burns from dapulse.com, and we’re talking about project management, and task management, and some of the tools involved in that. So I’d like to welcome to the call Matthew.
Matthew: Thank you so much, James, very happy to be here.
James: Well, it’s great to have you here, and it’s a topic that is often discussed in our community. Most people listening to this podcast have their own business, or are still running their own business and working for someone else, somewhere in one of those two buckets. And one of the things that happens as they grow their own business is firstly, they find they need to manage themselves better, so that whole self effectiveness is a topic that comes up a lot for us. And the second thing is inevitably, you just get to a certain point where you can’t go much further unless you hire a team, and you start having people coordinate with you, with your business.
Some names in project and task management
So they’re two of the major areas where I see this tools topic pop up. And we hear a lot of names coming up all the time, and no doubt you’d be familiar with most of them. Then you’re with dapulse, which is another tool that’s in the mix there. So some examples, in our business over the last 10 years, we would have tried a lot of different systems. We’ve used everything from Basecamp, which is a pretty popular tool, and Teamwork, Trello, which seems by far and away the most popular one we hear about. And we haven’t tried, but we’re familiar with Podio, and we’ve tried Wrike, and of course Google Docs is a mainstay in the back of our system there.
And then as a task management, and these things are sort of slightly separate, project management and task management, I’ve tried lots of different tools there, from the Reminders app in the Apple, to just notes, to Google Docs, to pieces of paper, Post-it notes, whiteboards. And it really fascinates me how there’s so many different tools, but I’ve never really found many that seem to naturally gel with the way that humans work. Almost all of them tend to be a place where stuff gets dumped, and then we’re still doing what we’re going to do anyway, and then we go and retrospectively look at the tool to see what we did and then move the blocks around.
And in some cases, one of the most incredible discoveries I made with our team, in the early days, we were using Basecamp, the team would go and update Basecamp, and then simultaneously, they were running a Google document in the background, where they were actually coordinating things. And then I asked them, “Why are you updating Basecamp if you’re using Google?” They said, “Oh, that’s for you, boss.” I’m like, “Well that’s not the point of the tool.” Partially, it’s great as the business owner to know at a glance where your business is at. And Trello has been so popular because it’s got a Kanban system, which is simply like a card system or to do, doing and done, for those who don’t know. And it’s more of a visual indicator of where things are at.
Matthew: And migrating.
James: But it’s also great if the tool actually encourages and helps productivity that the tool itself is contributing to that. So on a lightweight level, I’ve seen that work really well with tools like Todoist. But some of them aren’t beefy enough to deal with multiple people in a team, and they don’t bring in the elements of Kanban.
And it seems to me that dapulse, and we’ll also have a special listener offer on that, so if you’re interested in it, I’ll put a link in the show notes to our review of dapulse (review coming). Seems to me that dapulse is kind of a mashup between some of the favorite tools that I’ve used. It seems to have the listability of say, a Google Docs spreadsheet, it has the ability to create columns to move things around like a Trello board, and it’s very easy to add and to tick off things like Todoist.
The focus of dapulse
So when you’re coming up with an idea for a tool like this, how do you wade into such a minefield, and what sort of things are considerations for you as you go in there? Like I’m sure you have to consider who your perfect target market is. We maybe start there.
Matthew: Yeah. It’s actually really interesting that you bring that up. To kind of touch on what you mentioned in the very beginning in regards to the myriad of different tools that are available out there, the thing that stood out to me most about dapulse was the focus on the people. And you and I were just talking about that earlier.
Having come from the consulting world and doing lots of different consulting with lots of different businesses, it does seem like everybody has this sort of Frankenstein’s monster of collections of tools, tasks, paper, and everything that can just get completely unmanageable very quickly. And when you start with these new tools, the promises and everything sounds fantastic, but it gets ridiculously overwhelming very quickly, like you said, when people just go in and dump something, and they don’t take care of it immediately, or they don’t keep track of what’s going on there.
So when it comes to creating dapulse and kind of what we ended up using, the analogy that I like to use is like if you stuck Facebook and an Excel spreadsheet in a blender and the project management milkshake that came out ended up being dapulse. And with the focus on people, that’s made it really strong and really resonating.
As you mentioned earlier, having this huge repository of things can get so intimidating. And what dapulse really focuses on is not really about the tasks. It’s not even really about project management. It’s about people. And it’s about utilizing the startup’s most valuable resource, which is a person.
Dapulse’s team element
You know, going from one person to two people in a company is the largest change that you will probably make in your business. And so when you start working collectively as a team, communication is just so pivotal. And that’s what really resonates with everybody when they first start to use dapulse, is they see the focus and the emphasis on communication, and as we like to say, going green, when we have projects set up and you want to move tasks along and make sure that they go from start to finish, and you keep track of that appropriately. So that’s kind of what I vision as what’s working really well about dapulse and what works well when you think about what kind of things to create for a different project management platform.
James: Yeah, I can see that team element, because as I started using it with one other person in my business, I started to get the feel that it’s almost encroaching on Slack for its ability to communicate with each other. I really like how you can have a chat with someone on a task, and that when you combine that with the app, it’s actually pretty easy to have a communication. And obviously, every good project management tool is going to have an app, where it’s quite portable, because as business owners, we’re accessing our business from the mobile phone, and our customers are there too these days. So it’s an essential thing. But I liked how you can have that communication, and you can pretty much set up the boards, which you call them, into different folders, so you could pretty much replicate a chat channel if you wanted to.
“Great project management is easier with the right tool.”
James: I could imagine for a very small business or a medium-sized business, they might be able to use dapulse to replace a lot of other tools. It could be a solution that gets them by. I think you sell up to, it’s a five-seat license for the entry level, is that right?
Matthew: That’s correct, yeah.
James: And you can now have external people sharing boards as well, so external contractors, etc., they count for a fraction of a license.
Matthew: Exactly. That’s correct, yeah. So you can have guests come in, so if you’re an e-commerce business, an advertising agency, if you’re ever working with people that are outside of your company but are critical to moving a project forward, you can create a shareable board, which allows you to actually invite them as guests, and they can come in and be part of the team only in that space. So they wouldn’t have access to your main area, where all of the pertinent company information is, but they would still be able to work with you on that project, and you’d be able to hold each other accountable for the stuff going forward.
James: Yeah. So in terms of simple versus complex, I reckon it sits somewhere on the… it’s somewhere in the middle to me. It’s simple to use, but it’s quite complex in the feature set that it has. And it’s got the power that I need, at least, for moving things across from one side of the scale to the other. If you want to use it as a project management tool to go through gateways, it’s pretty easy to create customizable columns, to allocate it to any person. I love the ability to change the status by color, it’s super visual, which is where it really steps above a task list or just a checklist type system in the fact that you can have an immediate sense of where projects are at, especially if someone else is involved with it.
And I think it might be interesting to talk about how different scenarios might use this tool, because there’s a chance that someone listening to this is one of a certain type of business. A lot of our audience will fall into the following categories – they’ll either be an agency, dealing with end users, and maybe suppliers; they’ll probably be an information product marketer, with some form of creating information or affiliate marketing; they could be an e-commerce business, or they’re very likely to be a coach of some kind, so I guess you’d categorize that as a personal services type business.
I might just sort of start with the coaching side of things, because that’s sort of what our business is now. With SuperFastBusiness and SilverCircle, we’re helping business owners grow their business and become far more profitable.
As a task management tool…
And I’ve been using dapulse more as a task manager than a project management tool, I think, but I’m sharing it with one other person in my business who is helping me drive the business. They help me drive me, and that’s probably pretty typical for a driven entrepreneur, even though I have good compliance to follow through and an understanding of disciplines and numbers, etc. I still get some real assistance by having someone jockey some of the tasks with me.
And they’re also able to interface with the rest of the team, so we created a little codec within our business that aside from the traditional red, yellow, green boxes, we’ve used purple ones, which indicate that it’s someone else in our team we’re waiting on, and then we have blue for an external contractor. So we can see where our project is, out there in the wide world, but it’s a very, very private dapulse that we’re sharing, it’s just the two of us.
I’ve set up my folders into separate categories for things like SuperFastBusiness and SilverCircle and other cool stuff like training. In our business, professional development is essential, so I have a training board where if I buy a course, or I download a PDF, or I listen to an audio, I’ll put it on my training board and then I’ll make it go green. And I’ll just get through training material as a discipline.
And I’ve also created a master templates folder now, and what I’ve been doing is creating templates for everything from setting up and running a membership through to setting up revenue share deals, creating good webinars, writing good sales letters, and a start to finish project stream of a project from the whole way through. And I’m able to just drag or duplicate those into new folders when I start a project, so I can just basically get going on my task list. Yeah, and I think having the ability for templates is an essential feature in a project management tool.
“Having the ability for templates is an essential feature in a project management tool.”
Matthew: Get a foundation.
James: There’s a board that’s actually private, that only you can see, and I think that’s a nice feature to have as well, because there are some things that aren’t necessarily good for everyone else to see.
How a coach might use it
Matthew: Exactly, yeah. So we definitely have a great structure in that regard. And to touch on how a coach would be using this specifically, and then to use maybe private boards versus main boards, we created dapulse with the idea of transparency, but like you said, sometimes you don’t want to have all that information be available for everyone. Or you only want it to be available for certain people.
And some examples that I’ve actually spoken with some coaching clients of ours, people who are coaches that use dapulse, there’s quite a few, and one of the ways that I see them using this very successfully is actually in they kind of create their SOPs based around how they build their boards. So like standard operating procedures. And what they do is when they have somebody come in through their sales funnel, be it through a webinar or something like that, and they’re in the process of becoming a client, I have coaches who are working in all kinds of fields, often they might be in coaching in internet marketing, or business development, and so there’s a lot of different processes that have to happen to get somebody going. It’s not like you can just flip a switch and suddenly it’s there. That would be more for an e-commerce company, but we talk about that in a second.
So when coaches actually get people set up, what I find them often doing is creating shareable boards, where they actually have their clients become part of the project. And that’s really huge, because you know, when you’re a coach, you live and die by making sure that you can provide value to your clients, but also have the process of acquiring new clients go smoothly. So when you have your templates set up, where you’re doing sales and onboarding, and you actually have clients come in and be part of that onboarding, you could create shareable boards. And what many coaches are doing is they’re actually having them join them on there.
So rather than getting a thousand emails saying, “Where’s this at? How’s this setup going?” You now, if they’re doing SEO or something like that, they’re saying, “When do I get my keywords? When do I actually start looking at these backlinks?” You can actually have them see, like you said, very visually. OK, you can log into dapulse at any time, see where your project’s at. If you want to get an update, you can ask for one. But all that information will be there and available for them. So I often find coaches, aside from of course working with their team to make sure projects go from A to Z, they’re actually able to pull in and involve other people who aren’t necessarily part of their company, such as clients and things like that, which we find them really finding a lot of value in.
James: Yeah, that’s great. It’s good for a service industry, if you’re going to be back and forth at a high level with a customer, then you can actually just drag a template across that steps all the things that have to happen as a fulfillment of that service. And then the customer can see where you’re at and you’re on the same page at all times.
From simple to complex
Matthew: Exactly, yeah. And so like with an e-commerce company, for example, I’ve actually had some good conversations with people who are in the e-commerce space and using dapulse well. And to touch on another thing that you mentioned earlier about simple versus complex, one of the funny things that I often think about, somebody told me when they were describing dapulse one time is that you can go from the simple to the complex on a person-to-person basis.
So for example, you have people who really just, they need to get information, they need to understand it, but they’re not maybe as tech-savvy, but they’re part of your company. It’s important that they be involved in this project with you, you can’t just shut them out. They might not be a developer, maybe they’re an HR or something like that where they’re not often using project management. Well, they can still be involved and still use it. And the business owner told me that he was very excited that he didn’t have to take the Ferrari to the grocery store, but he could if he wanted to. And so, you could go and actually make things complex and use them that way if you need to, but it’s very simple to go in and understand.
Dapulse in e-commerce
And so an example that I have with an e-commerce company that I was having a conversation with a couple of weeks ago, is they were actually plugging into the API of dapulse, which we make available, and you can go in there and actually sync up different programs and integrate with dapulse. So they’re actually able to go in through Shopify.
We have other people who actually have custom programs that they hook up to their dapulse, and they’re able to go in and actually keep track of different orders, they’re able to keep track of new products. If you’re actually going through and making products that they need to go through a creation phase, and you need to get them into production, you can keep track of things there and actually work with manufacturers through the shareable boards, kind of like how we talked about with the coaching, involving the clients. So you can do the same with other people such as manufacturers or anybody else that’s a big part of your business in that way. So we see e-commerce companies seeing a lot of value in that regards, too, and I thought that touched on well with the simple versus the complex which we discussed earlier.
James: Yeah, actually thinking about it, some of my boards have five columns across them. For example, in a “things to promote” board, I’ll allocate a person to the project, there’ll be a cart/link, so I need an affiliate link. Then there’ll be an “offer page ready”, and then there’ll be “offer page checked”, you know, we double-check it then check the links. Then there’ll be a “promote now”, and then there’ll be an “end”. And that way we can just look at that one board for seven or eight things, or promotional calendar, if you like, is the easy way to explain it.
And you can see where something’s bogged down. I can see that some things are waiting for links, some things are waiting for the offer page, and two of them are being promoted right now, and then at some point they’ll end. And that helps our people who are sending the emails out know what call to action to put in the email, without having to ask me, the business owner, because it’s there on a page that is viewable by someone in the business.
James: And then there are other ones, like my work in progress, which is just the most simple one-column task list ever. It’s just red, yellow, green. And in fact, what I’ve done is I’ve created a completed group of pulses, I think you call them, and when I complete something I actually shift it out of the work in progress and off to the completed board. So I’ve got an archive of everything that was done, and I’m only really looking at reds and yellows. It’s a simple way to keep my focus on stuff that needs to be done, I’m not even looking at the stuff that was done.
But if I need to go and check something that was done, I’ve got this entire history of all the greens, everything that’s been done. So one of the most effective techniques we can do in our business is to keep doing what works. It’s nice to have a recurring reminder to go and review what you’ve done and then retrospectively figure out which were the power moves, which one had the most impact, and which ones should we put back into our future or on a recurring basis.
James: Now there are things like synchronizing with your calendar, and setting dates for things, I noticed.
An upcoming development
Matthew: Exactly, yeah. And we actually got a really big improvement, at least at the time of this recording, we’re very close to launching a brand new internal timeline. We like to say that we’re revolutionizing things, and it is pretty different than anything that you’ve seen. We’re very excited about that, we’re testing it internally, and it actually turns people into kind of like a Gantt style chart, where you can actually look at the scope of a project person by person. So you could see where there’s gaps for availability, for people to take on more weight than others, or if somebody’s particularly overloaded between lots of different tasks. So we’re really, really excited about that timeline feature, which is coming out very soon.
And like you said earlier as well, with the ability to see everything at a glance, it’s so powerful, at least for me, the reason that I became a believer, to be able to instantly sit down and just at a glance know exactly where you need to be on a certain project. I’m sure many of your listeners, having been one myself, I know that sometimes you come in on Monday or whenever it is, that you’re sitting down to things, and you’re sitting there staring at your computer and you’ve got a thousand emails, and you’re like, where do I even start? And for me, myself, what I like to do is I go in and search for everything that was completed, so I can understand where I’ve been at. And then I go and look at things that were stuck on certain days.
Knowing what to focus on
So you can actually go in and search and allocate those things. And as somebody who’s working in a bigger project, it’s so valuable for people who are also working on a team to immediately be able to understand, alright, ‘Here’s all the things that are on this project that are stuck’, or even company-wide, ‘Here’s everything that we’re working on that we need to focus on today’. Because that’s the most important thing, right? As a business owner, you want to focus on what works, and what works is making sure that nothing gets bottlenecked.
The horror of realizing that something has been left undone for a week, two weeks, maybe even a month, because stuff just goes unnoticed, it gets missed. Those are the kind of things that we’re really striving to work against, because we want people to feel comfortable, to be able to go into a tool, for one, but also to be transparent and make things simple so that they can actually focus on what they need to be focusing on rather than the overwhelming appearance of an inbox with hundreds of emails waiting to be answered. So that’s really what we want to be focusing on, is making sure that the most valuable resource, which is the person, understands exactly what they need to be doing at that moment in time.
James: Yeah, that’s a good point, Matthew, and I think it’s important for people who travel a lot, as I do, that you can get an idea of where you’re up to at any time. So again when you are travelling, you start to burn a lot of energy starting to switch timezones, understand different languages, currencies, cultures, accommodation, even finding food becomes a high priority. And then, if you’re in a classroom or a learning environment, then your regular business just gets pushed to the outer peripheral of your awareness. And it’s nice to be able to just look at an app, or even when you come back, and tune back into business, to be able to just go, “Uh huh, uh huh, uh huh, OK, this is where we’re at with everything”, and to recalibrate.
James: I think a lot of the energy is lost being an entrepreneur, when you are balancing that seesaw of consuming more innovation and information to take you to the next stage, like listening to podcasts, attending events, and going through trainings, versus creating and doing the work, catching up with the things you already put in your notebook, keeping projects moving forward at a pace. Because there is an opportunity cost for your time, and if things do bog down, if that website takes another month to put a topic chooser on the homepage so that you can segment people on the first opt-in, that could cost you a million dollars a year for not having that.
James: So it’s really kind of important to be able to tag those things to someone and to have them clear on what they’re doing as well, and that’s one of the great things about a tool like this.
When you’re back from travel
Matthew: Exactly. You were talking in your last podcast, actually, about knowing your numbers, and how important it is to actually go in and understand. And what we’re really trying to do is help you know your business. Because a funny story that I have, is when I was doing some consulting. I’m sure a lot of nomads and entrepreneurs out there have gone travelling and not necessarily had the best processes in place. And I was gone for two weeks, and I had my team handling things for me. And for the most part, it went very smooth.
But when I came back, I was using another tool, and when I came back to go back into the tool, I had, I think it was like 470 different notifications. And I stared at my screen for a second, and then just shut it off. And I had to come back, because the immense pressure of trying to understand where everything was at at that moment just, I was starting to hyperventilate. And you know, when you’re travelling like you said, there’s so much energy that needs to be taken in to understand where you’re at at any one time, and you can mis-key things, which could affect your bottom line.
So being able to instantly go in and say, ‘Oh, I understand right away exactly where I need to be and what I need to be focusing on’, because everybody else in the process knows that too. When I was overseas and I came back, people were waiting for me to answer on things that I didn’t even know that they had asked me about, because I had missed the information in my slew of emails. So now, being on dapulse, and having the joy of an inbox zero every day, which I could easily work towards, it’s just magical. That’s why we’re really excited to share this with you and your team and with of course, everybody on the SuperFastBusiness podcast.
James: Yeah. Getting out of your inbox is essential. The power moves I help people with when they scale – getting a helpdesk that’s external from them, like the business owner managing their own support is usually the first thing that detonates; get the team out of the inbox, which is the next thing, and that’s where we got a significant boost moving to Slack, because we discovered that the people in our business are predominantly under 30 years old. They don’t use email. Young people don’t use email anymore, they’re all messenger-based, which is why you go to the next step, which is running your business.
You need a good project management system to be able to coordinate people. You’ve bridged that gap, the closest of any project tool that I’ve seen. It’s something that could be a standalone system. That’s what’s pretty exciting about it. I’ll tell you some of the other things that are pretty cool.
When you start using dapulse, you can certainly use it as a trial, which is what I did. I found I was getting a lot more done, even in the four days that I’d started testing it than I was expecting. And then there’s an onboarding call at some point where you can spend half an hour actually having someone from dapulse go through what you’ve set up over a screenshare and to give you some ideas and tips about how to get more from the tool. I think showing people how to use the tool is tremendous.
But one of the surprising things was that I had already figured out the main things intuitively, and I’m not one to read instruction manuals or watch videos, generally. I do it for business knowledge, but I don’t love doing it for tools. I don’t know what that is.
Matthew: It’s against the grain of who we are, right James?
James: Well, I did watch one of the YouTube style videos that pops up in the tool when I first got it. I committed to it because it was short, and it was easy to understand. I got a couple of good tips from that. Just got the gist of it. But from then on, I found it’s actually really intuitive the way that you can drag, and drop, and transfer things around, and change the people, and the colors, and search for things.
It is easy to use. Basically for the amount of power and the features, it’s actually quite easy to use. I wouldn’t be surprised if more people start using that as the next move after they’ve already tried one of the other tools that we’ve mentioned. If they’re not feeling like the tool that they’re using is doing the job, this would be the starting point if any of the features that we’ve talked about sound appealing.
James: How did it get invented?
How the product was invented
Matthew: Dapulse actually came from Wix, which is a company that some of the people here might be aware of, which is like a website development kind of a platform that helps creating websites easier. What ended up happening there is that a business without a clear system is going to be chaos. Wix was not in chaos, but they saw the future coming about how managing all of these different projects and communicating with each other was going to be incredibly different. It’s going to be incredibly difficult, I should say.
Roy, who is the CEO, and a few people broke off, and started creating this. Wix was actually the first client that we had for dapulse. So they broke off and created this. It started off not looking anything like the way that it is now, and thankfully, we’ve had so much great people that we’ve been working with. People you might have heard of, like AOL, Discovery, Saatchi Art, Samsung, big companies that are working with us. You’ve got everybody, from the big to the small, and making these things possible.
So it started off like an internal project within Wix, but when we realized that there’s actually a big shift of what’s happening, there’s so much changing in this. I think the reason that you see thousands of different tools is because people are really starting to realize that there is a shift in power. It’s not just management who needs to control everything, it’s the employees who actually need to make most of the day-to-day decisions.
And I think business owners, once they realize that they’re giving their employees the power to make these decisions, can actually help them so much. That’s the way that businesses are intuitive. Like with dapulse, it’s kind of the way that businesses are intuitively going, is they understand that when you have good people, they’re not going to let it go to chaos. They’re going to let it actually evolve and change into something where now that they have the power, they get to make these decisions because they’re informed. They’re informed about what’s going on.
So having come from small beginnings, it’s really amazing to be a part of this now because it really is a revolution. There’s thousands of different types of project management applications out there, but so far, I only know of one that really focuses on the human element as the resource rather than just focusing on the project as the most important facet.
James: Nice. Yeah well, I can see that’s a great thing, that little spin-off out of someone’s own need is actually referred to in the book Simplify as a really, really smart way to grow a strong business with a unique point of difference is to cast it off from the mother ship and let it survive on its own two feet.
James: I gave a couple of examples of companies that successfully did that, and some of them, the castoff actually ended up acquiring the original mother ship. So it’s like, send off the little space pod to go and find civilization because the spaceship is not going to get there.
Matthew: Exactly, yeah.
James: That’s great. Well, it’s exciting times. How long has dapulse been around?
Matthew: So it’s been publicly available for I believe two and a half years, but it’s been in the works for just over four.
James: OK, well, I’m glad that it’s up and running. I can see it having a bright future. Certainly, I’ve been enjoying using it. The main thing I wanted to do is just to basically bring this sort of idea to our audience. Certainly, I’m excited about the tool. Secondly, I wanted to just reinforce that you can’t grow your business or scale without a tool like this.
Just to finish up, I think it’d be kind of cool to talk about a couple of the things that you see people doing with project management or task management tools that you wish you could sort of tap them on the shoulder and say, “Hey, there’s a better way,” or “Have you thought about doing it this way?” I’d love to know if there’s any sort of rookie mistakes or common problems that you see over and over again when you’re sorting someone out with how to use it better.
Common mistakes to avoid
Matthew: Absolutely, absolutely. That’s a great question because when you mentioned having that setup call, that’s what I spend a lot of my time doing. I love getting out in front of the customers and actually showing them how this works. So when you guys do sign up, if you have questions, that’s going to be me that you’re going to speaking to.
In regards to some tips and tricks for people using the tool, the one thing that I noticed, and this was a shift in mindset for myself, and so it’s not just you, as far as I’m talking to the listener, it’s a really big change in the mindset to not necessarily just view it as a board in one way. What you really want to try and look at it as is you need to look at the process as a whole and visualize. So there’s so many times where people will come to me and say, “I don’t think I can do this.” And then if we take a different spin on it, it turns out that we absolutely can.
So for example, while I was talking to somebody just yesterday, and the issue that they were having was that they needed to be able to, they were working with insurance actually, out in Melbourne, and so they were trying to figure out how they can get all of their different processes, and they were thinking about it like they did in Excel, because they had come from Excel, and they’d used it that way. So they were trying to visualize and make it, literally just trying to replicate it inside Dapulse.
But one of the biggest problems that they were having was that they wouldn’t know when somebody else actually had the information that they needed to move on to the next stage. So there were all these different projects and all these different people involved in these projects but once it actually went from phase one to phase two, there was a big gap there.
So what we ended up doing was we would actually go in and create reminders based off of their date columns, which they were setting up. And so people would actually have this integrated into their calendar, so they would be aware of these things. But also, we ended up setting up a new process for them, which I just called “pass the baton.” So whenever the application came in and got approved by their underwriters, I kind of helped them set up this new process. Once that was done and somebody actually changed it to done, they would actually go in and follow up with a quick app mention, which is something you can do inside dapulse.
So they would get an instant email and also a push notification. They would go in there and actually kind of pass the baton in that way. And suddenly, things were just getting done like wildfire because now, instantly, when that was taken care of, they had this new process where it’s, “Hey Jim, is this done?” “Yes, it is.” “OK great. I’m going to move on.” And then they take the responsibility from there.
And then another thing that people often tend to miss in regards to the tool is it can even be simple things. I find people struggling sometimes with imagining a high-level board. So when you first come in, obviously, you see that big plus button, and the world is your oyster, right? But if you think about having a high-level overview, wherein you can look at all of your project at once, and then you have actual specific boards based on those projects, that’s great for not only the manager or the CEO to go in and look at the high-level items, but you can actually go in and search for those things to see the high-level items in relation to tasks.
So what that changes is instead of having just a place you go in and dump everything, you actually have two areas where you can focus on working. You have what we like to call a weekly task area, where everybody who’s in that team focuses on what to do that week, and they break it up that way. But then once they’ve accomplished certain goals for themselves for that week, they go in and they update a high-level board, which actually gives them the opportunity and everybody in the business to see exactly where a project is at any phase.
Those are really kind of some of the big things that I see people missing, is just really trying to think about it a little bit differently instead of thinking about it as just a one-way vision where you go from left to right. There’s so much more complexity, as we were discussing earlier for what you can do there.
So you can have it visualized in your other applications if you wanted to have date columns and sync things up that way. Or you could even change up your internal business processes very small in small ways, where it helps centralize that communication. I think that’s the biggest part of what makes this so valuable, at least for me, is the fact that all the communication happens in context.
“All the communication happens in context.”
How many times have you gotten an email from somebody and you had to scroll down through pages, and pages, and pages of items? And you’re like, what in the heck is going on? I don’t understand, what is this even in relation to? And that’s really big for me, is the communication and context.
You mentioned earlier, all the chat you can have on one task, but you can even have it on a general item where if you have stuff on your board and you want to just know what’s going on in that board, you can even create a pulse or a task where all the general conversation goes. And so people are actually using this to centralize their communication.
And for us internally, we’ve actually replaced internal email altogether. I can’t remember the last time I ever got an email from somebody inside dapulse. We all go through our individual departments and talk to each other there. Or we actually have kind of meta areas where we talk about things like sales, marketing, onboarding, user issues, and things like that.
“Take something that you know and then just spin it a little bit, look at a different angle.”
So if I had to boil it down into one thing, I guess it would be try to take something that you know and then just spin it a little bit, look at a different angle, because when you look at it at a different angle, there’s so many more opportunities that open up. And the biggest one I think would be having things on a macro level and then a micro level where you really understand what’s going on overall and then for each individual task.
James: That’s fantastic advice. So just in summary to wrap this up, Matthew, what would be the first board that you create when you sign up for any sort of project system, and hopefully, dapulse. But let’s say you get your account, you open it up, what’s your first board?
Matthew: That is a wonderful question. I’ve actually created some videos specifically for this. You guys can see those on our YouTube channel. I’ll send you a link so that you guys have access to that. But when you first come in, the thing that I recommend doing is having your high-level board and starting there, because once you have that, the vision for everything else starts to come in place intuitively just like you said.
So once you know and you have all of your projects in one place and they’re visual, you can actually see where they are in relation to how far along they are in the process from start to finish, then you start to see, OK, if I’ve got a website set up and I’m doing SEO for this client, I know now that I actually need to get the budget approved and to set up the kick off call. So I can go in there and actually create these different boards in relation to those big projects, and I have my high-level board where everything goes, and then I’ve got my individual tasks where I can monitor those things.
So when somebody first gets started, I immediately say, “Alright, let’s take a macro view. Let’s look at your projects as a whole. Let’s get them into the platform, because once you start actually getting in and start switching things from start to done, or you have stuff moving along to the process and you see it happen, the other pieces start to fall into place.” So that high-level board, I feel, is extremely critical.
James: Nice. OK. Well, there you go. Thank you. We’ve been listening to Matthew Burns from dapulse.com. We have a special for our listeners, so I’ll put that special at SuperFastBusiness.com where you see the dapulse review. I want to just thank you for coming along and sharing these great ideas, Matthew.
Matthew: I am so happy to do it. Thank you so much for the opportunity. Like I said, I’ve been a long-time listener. You provided so much value, so I’m happy to come here and contribute. If anybody does sign up and need some help in particular, I am more than happy to work with you either by Skype or by phone, whatever we can do to help you guys get started.
James: That’s incredibly generous. Thank you so much.
Matthew: Yeah, absolutely.
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