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website Agile Project Management Blog | ActiveCollab
A blog about the latest agile project management techniques and productivity tips.
feed text An editorial QA checklist for B2B blogs
Fri, 20 Jul 2018 00:00:00 -0400

Business owners are expecting the return on investment from their content marketing teams and we need to set a system that will do just that - make a positive impact on our business. Content production is not a cheap hobby, especially if you’re looking to captivate your audience with great stories that improve their lives.

We talked a lot about storytelling and the trials and errors we made along the way, but now it’s time to dig into the system. The one that works for us, and the one, we hope, will work for you.

As a result of those trials and errors, we’ve come up with a 4-step checklist for choosing the topics our team will write about. However great your idea might be, not all topics are worth the investment and that is something we learned the hard way. Note that this approach can be used when running a team of writers, as well as if you’re running a one-person show - you still need to know what you’re doing.

Let’s dig into our checklist:

Are you competent enough to write?

Yes, it is as simple as that. Work closely with your writers and have a clear overview of their experience and writing abilities. If you’re not sure your writers can match the quality to be referenced on the topic, then it’s safe to reject it. Do it some other time. Don’t be mediocre.

We’re not against writers who write about many different topics and do enough research. In fact, we’ve written about all sorts of stuff in the last couple of years. But in order to truly grasp what the readers are expecting and what they want to know, one definitely needs to write from experience. We’re talking impact and we’re talking about being there for our readers.

Is this something your readers need?

One can never overstate the importance of knowing your readers, and how your business impacts them. That being said, you need to know how if your content will help your readers in their day-to-day. There is a big between entertaining your readers and offering them something that will actually help them be better at their jobs.

It’s not that you’re not supposed to entertain. Sometimes, all your readers need is to be entertained. We’re saying you should primarily focus on entertainment only if your KPIs explicitly require that you increase brand love and brand awareness. Otherwise, you could have invested that time writing something else. Something else your readers need.

Another dimension you need to take into account is the fact that the topic might already be thoroughly covered. Do your readers really need another article on topic X?

Is there an actual demand for the topic?

Numbers don’t lie. If there’s no search demand, and you’re not aiming to generate it, maybe there’s no need to really go there. This has everything to do with keyword research and going through your favorite content insights tool.

If you’re not ready to invest in creating demand for your content, it’s completely OK to go with what potential readers are currently looking for. Go for the right keywords and set ambitious targets for our keywords in terms of monthly search volume.

Our’s might not be as ambitious as you might expect, but our weekly blog posts are targeting keywords with at least 1.5k monthly search volume. Some blog posts rank well, some are in the process. This is producing a steady growth for the past 18 months and we are now at almost 30k organic visits/month.

If you’re not generating demand, generate interest.

Are my readers going to learn anything new?

It goes without saying, but this aspect of blogging is often overlooked. We often think that we have a great insight that we need to share with our audience as soon as possible. But more often than not, we end up reinventing the wheel. How do we know if we’re actually crafting a story that adds value?

We’ve come up with a very simple trick to verify this. Since we’re writing from experience, we ask ourselves one single question:

Would this article have helped me if I had read it a year ago?

We can easily extrapolate this and think about all our peers and other creative professionals that could profit from what we have to say. Fairly simple question, completely bulletproof. And it works so well with previous questions, like a final piece of the puzzle.

Note that this checklist is an integral part of our editorial process, and it might seem a little out of context when taken on its own. Therefore, we’re going to finalize the story about our content marketing process in the coming weeks. We’ll talk about the whole process, from start to finish, referencing the articles that already explored the most important individual steps - research, planning, storytelling, and QA.

Until then, keep up the Real Work!


text User behavior and Lead Scoring
Fri, 13 Jul 2018 00:00:00 -0400

Behavioral analytics is comprised of metrics which determine how the user behaves when using an application, or visiting a website. These metrics go beyond standard ones, such as page views, sessions, monthly active users, etc. They show us the engagement our product has with users, how it affects retention, conversion, revenue and this is why understanding these metrics is so important.

We learn all of this through various events. These events represent any actions that a user can make. For example: opening the app, creating an account, watching a video, and any other activities tied to a specific user, such as making a purchase. However, it should be noted that analyzing just the right amount of data is key - if we are too eager and follow too many variables, we won’t be able to extrapolate the result we want.

It’s like going to an airport. There’s a perfect route that the staff wants you to take - through the main entrance, over to check-in, baggage registration, and so on. The passenger can also go have a cup of coffee, buy some souvenirs - all of these are good for the airport, so they are deliberately placed in enticing locations in order to lure them there. Every such action brings with it a certain score that’s attached to the visitor and triggers an event - this is how businesses project for and plan their user journey.

Before we start to analyze the user’s behavior, we first have to define what our goal is. What we track and why. Because adding various events without a goal only serves to muddle the analytics that we have. If we wanted to track the onboarding conversions or the user’s behavior on our landing pages, we would have to be aware of all the steps the user goes through and mark them all. This means that every time the user triggers one of these events, our analytics will make a note of these interactions. After that, we count these events, and that’s it. It sounds so simple.

And that’s because it’s not at all that complicated. Let’s take a standard SaaS that has a webpage that serves to promote their app. In order to buy the app itself, the user has to go through the following steps: arrive at the site > register for the trial version > purchase the app. Each of these steps has additional branching in the form of different pages on a site that a user can preview before making a trial version.

Lead Scoring

Another important metric we always take into account is lead scoring. It is a methodology that assigns each user a particular rating depending on the behavior they’ve exhibited. It helps us to understand which users and visitors are closer to the goal we defined. There are two types of lead scoring.

The implicit kind - where, based on the behavior of the user, we assign an estimate for all the steps they’ve undertaken in our ideal user journey.

The explicit kind - where, after we make contact with the user, based on their demographic or firmographic characteristics, we assign a rating that tells us if that person has a smaller or bigger chance to work (meaning - to use our product) with us.

Now that we have a defined goal, the user journey they should (ideally) make becomes clear. We’ve defined all the key points that every user can go through on that journey, all that’s left is to make sure that our tools for marketing automatization and CRM are in line. This means they monitor and supplement each other.

How do we rate this?

We define the ratings for each point that the user triggers along the way. It’s important to point out that we also have negative ratings - when the user does something that’s not beneficial to us.

By adding these ratings up, we get a final calculation which we use to filter users and prioritize them in the sales funnel. Meaning, we don’t use lead scoring just for sales, but we also apply it to various other actions. For example, when we want to see how complicated the ordering process is, if the users stray too far from the imagined journey - then we give these processes a negative rating.

One of the most interesting things about modern marketing is that we can hack just about any methodology if we understand it enough. We can then adapt it to our system and know that we are doing the best possible thing - both for us, and our users. These hacks are sometimes extremely successful, and this gives birth to new methodologies, and sometimes they’re not - which still leaves us with valuable experience and new knowledge into why a particular method or approach doesn’t work.


text The art of finding referral targets
Fri, 29 Jun 2018 00:00:00 -0400

Referrals have, in one form or another, been a part of human interaction ever since we figured out how to communicate past guttural growls and chest thumping. From an anthropological perspective, this gave us the means to find the best services and the best people for the job in our environment. It’s a mutually beneficial process, one that’s good for all the parties involved. It strengthens social bonds and empowers individuals, businesses, and economies.

Even though the basis of referrals and word-of-mouth marketing has remained the same, modern referring itself has changed quite a bit - especially now that we use the internet. It’s become infinitely more vast and often hard to pinpoint, and many of the old rules we used to take for granted now no longer apply.

Referrals hinge on trust, and in our current climate of fake news and suspicion-laden paranoia, trust is a valuable and scarce commodity - a resource that’s hard to earn and all too easy to lose.

But, then, who do we trust? Well, we trust our peers - our family, friends, people with opinions and outlooks similar to ours, blogs and publications we find informative and engaging, customer reviews and best/top lists. As buyers, these are the places we now look to when searching for info on places, products, and people. The added layer of anonymity online also ensures that we can now freely post negative reviews and opinions. It also means that we usually don’t give as much credence to referrals as we once did - now that anyone can make them - and that freedom made people somewhat prone to overreacting ("The fork wasn’t as shiny as the knife - 0 stars!").

So, in today’s volatile market that’s oversaturated with content that’s both real and constructive - as well as otherwise - how do we at ActiveCollab handle referral traffic? Because we operate on a global B2B market, we mainly focus on web publications and online magazines, and we pay special attention to cultivating reviews and testimonials.

News publications - targeting

We divide our targets into:

  • Organic - these are high-traffic publications that are mostly made up of respectable tech magazines that conduct extensive research and product testing before writing their articles and lists. These are the places people go for advice because they trust their recommendations - since they are sincere and unsponsored opinions by leading experts. It’s very difficult to get a position on such publications.
  • Competitors - predominantly comprised of Top 10 lists, lists that our chief competitors are on.
  • Single competitor - these are most often blog posts where a single competitor is mentioned (and it frequently turns out the competitor sponsored that blog post). It’s very important to pay close attention to the context, as we don’t necessarily want to be a part of an article that talks about an application of ActiveCollab that we don’t support, since we are primarily a B2B product, and want to be used as such.

In every such referral target, we follow the same strategy we apply to our outreach efforts - we look first to make contact, build a relationship, and only then do we broach the subject of doing something more. Our goals here are:

  • To be included in articles (for example, to be added into "Top 10 Best Project Management Software" lists)
  • If we are already on a list - to be given a backlink
  • If we are already a part of the list, to be moved up to first place (the first place in lists, the same way as it is in Google searches, gets the biggest number of clicks - about 30% - and those percentages progressively fall off the further down the list you go)

Concerning the above-mentioned single competitor articles, first, we have to determine whether we even want to be a part of the article and if we even can - considering someone else already paid for it

A golden rule here is - don’t be afraid to ask. Most publications like this depend on sponsored articles so they don’t have to rely on ads, and they are more than open to collaborations such as this.

Pay Attention To Your Analytics

Just like in every other aspect of doing business online, analyzing metrics gives you a clear, quantifiable view of what you are doing right, and what you can and should improve. Services, such as Google Analytics, can help you pinpoint these areas. Like with any other marketing strategy, you need to track your progress and success of the investment, so you can react when needed. Then, you can establish a process to monitor, track, and test this data, which will provide insight into which channels and practices yield the best results.

Reviews

When we get a satisfied customer - be it through customer support, Net Promoter Score, customers who answered one of our surveys, etc. - we ask if they would like to leave a review.

This is because people (meaning - potential customers) trust what other (un)satisfied customers say about you more than they believe in your own claims (which can often appear as unfounded boasting, or even outright lies). The reviews themselves can often convert still unsure buyers, since they are devoid of any marketing speak, and are distilled into plain "I like X because it allows me to do Y better." candid opinions. Every company should always take the time to ask their customers for a review - it’s one of the best forms of marketing there is.

Customer stories

Particular care should be made to recognize which reviews are so good - well-written, positive, engaging, and informative - that they can be expanded into full-blown customer stories. These are stories that demonstrate the value of ActiveCollab, and how it can be used to establish a process, improve inter-team communication and collaboration, often in interesting and imaginative ways. Many of our customers have their own blogs where they write about products they use and appreciate, so reaching out to them is a logical step. Just like with regular reviews, customer stories are relatable and honest experiences our customers have with our software, so they are an excellent way to promote our brand.

Referring to referrals

Every business should tap into referral targeting and make the most out of this rich source of inbound traffic. To neglect it is to waste the opportunity to pass on positive impressions people have about you and give you the chance to market yourself in the best possible way - by having others do the praising for you. With the right approach, referral traffic can serve as the perfect gateway to your brand and product.


Every brand needs a good story, and every good story needs a hero. One who the target audience can relate with, who is always ready for action and able to jump in and save the day. But I’m guessing you already know that.

What you might not be aware of is that, once upon a time, ActiveCollab embarked on an epic quest to tell stories that would captivate the audiences. And failed. Utterly. The premise was simple - we wanted to write better stories which would attract and maintain a loyal audience on our blog. What could have possibly gone wrong?

Everything.

This article is intended to serve as a testament to a period in our brand history where we spent an unjustifiable amount of time and effort meticulously designing "perfect" content that, in the end, had zero return on investment.

A premise of the story

We agreed on a simple narrative structure we felt confident about. The stories started with the exposition of a problem and its negative impact on our users, transitioned to the moment of clarity when they realize that something needs to be done, culminated with ActiveCollab jumping in to save the day, and ended with a general feeling of relief because life is so much easier now that it’s all over.

An overture to heroism

The first thing that went out of hand was the process of determining the protagonist of our narrative. The most obvious choice was to make ActiveCollab the hero of the ActiveCollab story. And so we did. Hence, the codename ACHero, which was also the title of the project.

Our product was to be the glimmer of hope to all those project managers, team leaders, designers, developers, marketers, and other creative professionals that are overloaded with busy work.

But it just wasn’t relatable enough. It’s not that ActiveCollab isn’t part of the solution, it’s that the stories sounded more like a sales pitch than a blog post that talks about real-world situations. To put it simply, there was no reason to love the hero. You can use a vacuum cleaner to get rid of the dirt, but you don’t really harbor any feelings for it.

We portrayed ActiveCollab as the tool that gets the job done, but we completely missed the opportunity to present how it actually made people feel. It didn’t have a unique voice, it didn’t have a distinct personality, it was just a faceless tool.

The main reason behind our blog sounding like this, rather than an archive of good advice, was our factual approach to problem-solving. We never managed to put that moment of relief into words. All we got was "ActiveCollab does X, and that is awesome!". For example, we were really happy with 4 Reasons why you need a project management tool. But it definitely wasn’t good enough.

Stories are not about what we do; they’re about how it makes you feel. Strike one.

Did you just assume my pain?

Assumptions are the bane of the marketing world. In this case, we made a lot of them, and they backfired on us. We thought we had an excellent idea about the pain points our customers are dealing with. Almost the entire marketing team had experience working in digital and marketing agencies, which made us confident to assume that the majority of agencies and digital businesses share the same set of burdens.

Although thoroughly researched, the topics we chose to write about were never validated. Once again, ActiveCollab was the solution to the problems we were writing about. This time, the issue was that those were not the problems our users were solving with ActiveCollab.

It all started with How to keep track of your customers’ project requirements. When we looked at the numbers, it was clear that not a lot of people needed ActiveCollab to solve this problem. But we wrote about it anyway because we were so sure of it.

A year in the future, we now have a much better idea of how our customers use ActiveCollab, because we actually validated our assumptions and performed a large-scale customer survey.

Stories are not about what we expect; it’s about what you desire. Strike two.

About to crash

The "ActiveCollab does X" stories were meant to resonate with potential new users, make them fall in love with our solution, and, ideally, buy our product. But ACHero stories were written with users in mind. As a result, they sounded more like how-to guides for people who wanted to get more out of ActiveCollab, than a warm, natural welcome into our ecosystem.

And that was the biggest ACHero blunder. It did offer a solution, but because of the way we went about it, it sounded like there isn’t one without ActiveCollab. The accent wasn’t on showing that we understood our readers’ pain, we were simply charging head-on towards the culmination. We were so bold in our undertaking that we produced articles like How to deliver a quality product on a tight schedule and budget. Our frame of mind was that this sort of endeavor wasn’t possible without ActiveCollab. You can see why this approach didn’t thrill our audience.

In most cases, our blog is the first contact people have with our brand. And we wanted to make the most of it by introducing our product as a part of the solution they were looking for. Instead, we ended up flaunting our product in their faces and coming off as arrogant and preachy.

Readers won’t care about your solution if you don’t show them you understand the problem. Strike Three, you’re out!

Losing time

We had a reasonable premise, good intentions, research we were confident about, and a plan to outreach and distribute our content to new readers.

Still, we ended up losing time because we didn’t tell good stories. To summarize:

  1. Our hero was not relatable
  2. Our assumptions were off target, and that made our stories irrelevant
  3. Our stories didn’t have an appropriate narrative hook that would engage people to read on

For reference and further reading, all the content from the ACHero era can be found in our project management category, starting from Hot to keep track of your customers’ project requirements, and ending with How to meet the deadline every time.

If anything, this was an important learning experience. Brand storytelling is probably the only thing on the content marketing horizon that seems like it will never go out of style. Now, more than ever, the first touch with customers comes through the stories you tell. It can either pull them in or send them running away from your brand. All it takes is one blog post, one landing page, a paragraph of text, or even a single sentence.

Use your words well, and tell good stories.

text A great day for collaboration
Wed, 13 Jun 2018 00:00:00 -0400

For those of you who’ve been looking to improve your team collaboration, this is going to be a great day. The Reactions are up and running in ActiveCollab 5.15.0! We are bringing you a new way to make your day-to-day communication more expressive and engaging.

ActiveCollab Reactions - add new reaction

Not all comments are created equal. More often than not, all you really need to do is give a thumbs up to a good idea your teammate just posted or give a simple feedback on a proposal you’re discussing. Imagine the whole team voting yes or no on a new design concept. That’s an awful lot of comments and a needlessly long discussion thread.

That’s why you probably didn’t have these sort of discussions in ActiveCollab, and we completely understand that. But with our new Reactions, and the efficiency they’re bringing to the table, you are now a step closer to keeping all important communication under one roof.

You’ll be able to choose one of the Reactions (or more if you’re feeling like it) and your teammates will receive a notification in their Updates section.

ActiveCollab Reactions - Updates

Hooray, your comment just received a couple of party poppers!

Additionally, you can check who took part in the celebration by hovering over the Reactions.

ActiveCollab Reactions - Updates

The tooltip lists people chronologically

ActiveCollab Reactions can be used for a couple of handy things, other than the ones that were mentioned. We’ll be writing more about that in the coming weeks so stay tuned.


If you want to learn more about the logic behind our reaction feature, we advise you to read the "under the hood" article which can be found on this link.

Keep up the Real Work!


text Lo and behold - ActiveCollab emojis Reactions
Wed, 13 Jun 2018 00:00:00 -0400
You probably noticed a nifty new feature in our latest software update. This is a story about seven brave emoji, how they found their way into ActiveCollab and became ActiveCollab Reactions.

Since their creation in 1999 by Japanese artist Shigetaka Kurita, emojis have been an integral part of our everyday communication. Just like their more primitive ancestors - the emoticons - emojis represent a natural, almost universal means of communicating, that transcend language barriers by tapping into our emotions and wide-spread pop-culture norms we immediately recognize and identify with. They’ve had such an impact on the way we perceive emails, texting, and Social Networks interactions, that the Face With Tears of Joy emoji was even chosen as Oxford Dictionaries’ "Word of The Year" in 2015.

The reason for this is because our brains have evolved to seek out patterns, even where there are none. That is why, for example, we see a face on the Moon, or think that a chimpanzee grinning must imply that the animal is happy - when, in fact, it is baring its teeth, a clear sign of aggression. This is called anthropomorphism, and it’s in our nature to apply human traits and emotions to objects and phenomena.

All this means that emojis occupy a special place in human communication, that, in many ways, predates most modern types of writing. These first forms started out as cave paintings, the ancient art that many speculate served the same function - cutting down on superfluous exposition, to get to pure data. Odds are, cave art is the precursor to the "show, don’t tell" rule.

That is why we decided to introduce ActiveCollab Reactions - so we can give you the option to speed up your workflow and make it more fun. As part of our internal vision, we strive to strike that perfect balance between features that enhance work productivity and the ones that make ActiveCollab a more enjoyable workplace. Luckily, Reactions fit both of these criteria.

ActiveCollab Reactions - animated

Today’s users expect to be able to use emojis wherever possible. Instead of writing a lengthy comment to let the other person know that you have read and understood their instructions, you can just give it a simple "thumbs up", summarizing the entire process into one single "Yup, got it!" button click. This way, all participants in the conversation can be kept in the loop at all times and get faster feedback, while reducing time spent on confirmations.

It’s similar to how people use Facebook, where they’re often used to indicate (dis)approval of a status, comment, or video someone shared by choosing an appropriate reaction. This adds a much-needed emotional layer to an otherwise faceless application - we can express support, condemnation, sorrow, anger, all in a concise and efficient way.

With this new feature, we want to incorporate a range of emotions our users will value and benefit from the most and will expand the way they interact with ActiveCollab. To accomplish this, we read up on consumer psychology, analyzed which symbols and their combinations are used the most in our app, and spoke with outside sources and industry experts. We knew we had to have at least one (the always reliable thumbs up), but apart from that - what is the right amount?

Too many, and the flow of information can get impeded by the sheer amount of choices that are slight variations of one another - a cognitive process known as overchoice. Too few, and you can’t accurately express yourself, which can be just as frustrating.

Our goal is always to be a part of the solution - never the problem - which is why, after a lot of iteration, back and forth design changes, and re-examining our core principles, we finally came up with our current set of Reactions. These (for now) seven ActiveCollab Reactions are the result of all that effort and planning, and the ones we ultimately chose to include.

You can see ActiveCollab Reactions in action if you take a look at this article.



We believe this addition to ActiveCollab will prove invaluable to you, our users, and will make your Real Work more enjoyable in the long run.

Keep up the Real Work!


text Avengers, ACemble!
Fri, 08 Jun 2018 00:00:00 -0400

"You know what we need?" Tony turned to face them, his synthesized voice broadcast loud for the entire team to hear. Even through all the audio filters and layers of paper-thin circuitry, Steve could discern the lack of usual playboy swagger. "We need a system." Tony concluded before anyone else could speak up.

"Tony, sweetie, you are our system." Natasha chimed in.

"Yeah, you’re literally a system, that’s your whole deal, you’re a dude in a robo suit!" Clint added.

"First off," Tony started, pointing his metal-clad finger at them, "yes, thank you for stating the obvious. But that’s not what I meant. I mean, just look at all this!" he said, gesturing to the rubble and debris all around them.

"Property damage! Civilian casualties! And do you know why this happened? Why it always happens?" Tony inquired.

"Bruce?" Natasha replied immediately.

"Bruce." Steve agreed, lowering his head.

"I’m gonna go with Bruce." Clint nodded, not bothering to look up from an arrow he was fidgeting with.

"No, not just Bruce!" Tony snapped. "You can’t always only blame him for this. Look, yes, we all know what Bruce is like. But he’s also our secret weapon. Our ace in the hole."

"Our star quarterback!" Steve remarked.

"Kudos for that riveting sports analogy, Steve." Tony retorted. "The point is, we need him on the team. Now, as you all know, before getting in the whole ‘saving the world on a weekly basis’ racket, I was a member of the Three Comma Club. And how do you think I made my fortune?"

"You inherited your father’s money and company?" Clint responded.

"You mercilessly exploited the underprivileged working class in order to further your own bourgeois standing and grandiose capitalistic wants?" Natasha smirked.

"Not… technically incorrect, but I was alluding to my amazing managerial skills." Tony boasted. "I put in place a method to control, supervise, and coordinate my employees’ productivity and work effectiveness. It’s what we in the tech, slash, billionaire game call a ‘PMT.’ And before anyone tries to come off as witty - no, it’s not short for ‘Phase Modulation Turret’, or anything like that. It stands for ‘Project Management Tool,’ and it’s something we could all benefit from. When you think about it, our team is no different than any other regular one - we’ve all got our strengths and weaknesses, it’s just a matter of applying them in the right place and order and keeping us organized. A PMT would help with that - we could map out our sequence of actions, coordinate them, or break them down into segments we can analyze and improve."

"Well, when I was in the army, we didn’t need all that technobabble hogwash to be combat-effective, our sergeants would take care of all the organizing for us. Ah, those were simpler times… happier times…" Steve reminisced, his voice trailing off, lost in memory.

"Sports and the military. Steve, you’re a regular Renaissance man." Tony said. "Listen, just give it a chance. You gave Netflix a chance, remember?"

"I still can’t get used to color TVs." Steve shuddered.

"But it grew on you. Just like this will, too." Tony assured him. "We’re the good guys; we need every advantage we can get."

"Tony?" Clint raised his hand.

"Yes?" Tony asked.

"Remember the last time you tried to use your technology to make our jobs easier?" Clint made a big U shape with his hand.

"Yes. Yes, I do. And we all promised never to speak of it again." Tony dismissed him. "Besides, this isn’t my technology we’re talking about. These guys are pros. They’ve been at this game longer than us, for more than ten years now, I’m a big fan of theirs. And what is this PMT, you ask? It’s," he turned on a drumroll effect to annunciate the reveal, "ActiveCollab! Which is perfect."

"Because now our battle cry can be ‘Avengers ACemble!’?" Clint grinned.

"Hadn’t thought of that, but sure, why not, whatever makes you happy. No, the best part about all of this - their name also starts with an A, so we wouldn’t even have to change any of our uniforms or gear! Do you have any idea just idea how expensive rebranding is?" Tony beamed with joy. "See, project management is already paying off - and this is just the beginning!"


text Since your last visit
Fri, 01 Jun 2018 00:00:00 -0400

No, you did not miss an emergency alert for an incoming asteroid. All is well. But just like the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and similar warning systems have to stay on top of a continuous flow of information, so does your business.

Missing that important piece of insight from your team’s discussion thread won’t lead to flash floods and asteroid impacts. Nonetheless, you might feel the same level of frustration. And we all know that’s not how running a business should feel.

Therefore, our designers have gone to the drawing board. We wanted to create a simple way to get notified about new comments on a discussion without the need to remember what’s the last thing you actually read. We want you to be able to catch up immediately without going through timestamps or holding the entire conversation history in your head.

That’s not how ActiveCollab wants you to maintain your collaborative environment. We want you to inform yourself about the new updates much quicker, without investing any additional time and energy in figuring what’s going on.

In a nutshell, you’ll be up to date with everything that’s going on, even better than before.

How does it work?

Whenever you open a task, all new comments that appeared since your last visit will be highlighted. This way, you’ll immediately know which ones require your attention.

ActiveCollab new comment 1

Have in mind that if this is your first time on a task, no style will be applied.

Once you focus on the comment form, the highlight will go away so it doesn’t distract you from delivering your input.

ActiveCollab new comment 2

Furthermore, if all new comments are not visible on the same page, the highlight will not disappear. It goes away only when you read the last unread comment.

ActiveCollab new comment 3

This is your chance to take a step closer to optimizing your workflow and making sure that every important bit of information catches your attention.

Keep up the Real Work!


Hey there. I’m Andrew Folts, a freelance web designer, developer, and owner of Sherpa Design Co. I collaborate with small businesses to help them share their unique products, services, and stories through Hard-Working Websites™.

Andrew Folts - Sherpa Design Co.

Making of my own system [that rocks]

I use ActiveCollab to plan and organize literally everything—from complex custom Wordpress themes to simple website builder projects, and even my own professional development. Clients often have a specific platform or technology already in mind when they contact me, but I’ve learned that it’s always best to start with a clean slate.

I kick off every project with an in-depth information gathering session. This allows us to define the main challenge and agree on an effective solution. From there, I’ll add a new project template, and make tweaks (if need be), so my client can get a general sense of how we’re going to proceed and where the major milestones will be.

Whenever I have a call or receive any communications from a client, I take notes directly in ActiveCollab. If I’m in a hurry, I’ll do this in a high-priority task with a due date, which reminds me to parse out my notes into individual lists and/or tasks.

Project Debrief in ActiveCollab

If something goes wrong in the project, or I notice a process that could be improved in the future, I add it as a todo item in the project under the task list "Project Debrief."

After the project ends, I’ll ask my client if there was anything about the process that they would improve. Then, I’ll revisit the "Debrief" task list, and copy each task to a list under my own company.

For example, "Ask clients if they need a ® or ™ mark on their logo," will get moved to "Project Planning." This is SUPER important, because it prevents me from making the same mistakes in my next project.

Saved by the bell ActiveCollab

I actually started using ActiveCollab in the middle of a large website project that had gotten out of hand because of the sheer number of revisions my client was requesting.

At the time, I was using a combination of Word documents, emails, and my brain to keep track of everything, which (SPOILER ALERT!) was a nightmare, not a viable project management system.

ActiveCollab truly saved the day, and I was honestly blown away by how easily it integrated into my process. Being able to quickly add tasks with specific due dates, assignees, status labels, and attached files kept me much more organized and proactive.

The True Measure of Success

What’s even more important to me, though, is the peace of mind ActiveCollab delivers. I’m less stressed and more confident about telling my clients that specific tasks are "done," because I can see they have been.

A never-ending inspiration

The internet can be a really intimidating place, and a lot of small businesses get lost in the mix. I’m constantly inspired by the unique products, services, and stories these businesses have to offer, and I love helping to share them through smart code and user-friendly design.

Because I’m a solo freelancer, I wear many hats, and the ability to portion my day into completely different skill sets is endlessly rewarding. With ActiveCollab, I can constantly gain new skills and improve existing ones without ever feeling overwhelmed.


Updated: Jun 26,2018

1. What is the GDPR

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a new law establishing protections for the personal data of EU residents. The main goal of GDPR is to establish a standard for all organizations in the region when it comes to data privacy. Organizations (regardless of the organization’s global location) are required to develop certain procedures and safeguards that will regulate collecting, maintaining and using personal data of EU residents. In preparation for the GDPR, ActiveCollab has established a comprehensive compliance program and is committed to partnering with its customers and vendors to help them in their GDPR compliance efforts.

2. Why we welcome GDPR at ActiveCollab

Privacy and safety of your data has always been a top priority for us. We are always aiming to raise the bar when it comes to delivering the best service possible, so we are constantly improving our product and website, so they are in compliance with GDPR and other relevant laws. We are looking forward to the impact GDPR is likely to have.

3. What is ActiveCollab doing to comply with GDPR

Information we hold

We’ve performed extensive data mapping, which means we’ve identified all the personal data we process, their location, the way they are stored, used, deleted and archived. We’ve also identified who they are shared with and in which ways. We use a log management system so no employee can access data without authorization. This basically means we’ve performed a thorough analysis of all the data we store. All our employees have gone through applicable GDPR guidance trainings issued by regulatory authorities and we all keep learning about privacy by design and default. Maintaining the confidentiality and security of data is one of our ongoing priorities here at ActiveCollab. ActiveCollab’s data and information are hosted on servers in USA, Canada and France. We wrote more about data security in our Security Policy here. We extend our GDPR readiness by making sure all our third-party processors* located in US are also GDPR compliant.

Communicating privacy information

We are currently re-evaluating all of our processes, procedures, and complete documentation. We are updating all our processes so they are in compliance with GDPR. We are also updating our Privacy Policy, Security Policy and Terms of Service. This also means we will never automatically process your information without your consent.

Lawful basis means we need to have a legal reason to use your data. This reason has to comply with GDPR’s accountability requirements. It can be in accordance with our Terms of Service - which means we can use your data when we want to, for example, send you a bill, as defined in our contract; it can be your consent (you opted in) with notice - we told you what you were opting into; and it can be what GDPR calls legitimate interest (e.g. you are our customer, and we want to send you new products or functionalities related to what you currently have). If there is a legitimate interest, you always have a right to object further processing of your personal information.

Breach management

Your data matters. And GDPR is not only about data privacy, but also data protection. That’s why we’ve established and are implementing specific procedures designed to detect, report and investigate a personal data breach. In case of a data breach, we will promptly notify the regulators on our systems, our customers and end-users.

4. What does this mean for you and your data?

The GDPR defines personal data as any information that can be used to directly or indirectly identify a person, such as a name, photograph, email address, or even an IP address.

We collect data and information only when absolutely necessary. The best thing is - we need so little. Data minimisation is our primary goal here. When you sign up for a free trial, we store only your email address to give you access to our tool.

Every connection to your cloud account is SSL only. Non-encrypted communication is not allowed. We also follow all best HTTPS security practices. We wrote more about encryption here.

It’s important that you’re aware how much control you have over your data. At any moment you have the right to:

  • Ask to see which information we store about you
  • Ask for a change in your information
  • Ask for deletion of your information
  • Restrict processing of your personal information
  • Ask us to transfer (export) your data in a machine-readable (commonly used) format.

5. ActiveCollab GDPR Roadmap

We welcome the arrival of GDPR and view the regulations as raising the bar for data protection, security, and compliance. We are closely analyzing the requirements of the GDPR and are working to make enhancements to our product, contracts, and documentation. We’re approaching this process with our engineering, product, security and legal teams, to implement the necessary procedures and practices.

Organizational

  • Data mapping and gap analysis - Done
  • Update T&C - In progress
  • Data breach report compile - In progress
  • First training on GDPR compliance - In progress
  • Periodic evaluation for organisational and technical measures - To be implemented

Policy

  • Revise internal documents and policies - In progress
  • Risk Assessment in accordance with ISO 31000 - Done
  • Security incident response templates - In progress
  • Regulate internal access to personal data - In progress
  • Handling data responses to users - In progress

Technical

  • Restrict access to servers from public locations - Done
  • Use HTTPS for pages that handle sensitive information - Done
  • Review and categorize currently stored data - Done
  • Resolve security issues and implement recommendations - Done
  • Anonymize IP addresses - In progress
  • Revise stored data - In progress
  • Unified platform access for company accounts - To be implemented
  • Establishing Logging Policy - Done
  • Anonymize data for staging - To be implemented

Product

  • Implement user opt-in mechanism - In progress
  • Log the consent - In progress
  • General consent request - In progress
  • Allow user revoke the right of using his data - In progress
  • Re-ask the user for consent if necessary - In progress
  • Add multi-factor authentication - In progress
  • Data export tool - In progress
  • Keep data a limited time after contract termination - In progress
  • Obtain consent for previous collected data - To be implemented
  • Expose/delete info for users - To be implemented
  • Platform audit logs / update - To be implemented

6. Find out more

We wholeheartedly encourage you to review our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service pages. If at any moment you need more answers, you can contact us via privacy@activecollab.com.

*Our third-party processors: Help Scout, Stripe, FastSpring, Crisp, Google Analytics, Google Adwords, Mailchimp, Facebook Ads Manager, Mautic, Promoter