Flow is made for all sorts of teams. From agencies to enterprises, Flow adapts to the nature of your work. Teams of all sizes use Flow to manage projects, tasks, ideas, and discussions–so they can be more effective in their collective efforts. In this series, we profile teams who have found Flow to be particularly helpful.
Glass & Marker is a creative video agency based in Oakland, CA. Their team creates web video advertising for clients of all sizes, from small tech startups to large brands like Google and Yahoo!. We had a discussion with Nick Markham, Creative Director / Co-Founder, to talk team task management with Flow.
Flow: What was your first impression of Flow and how has that changed?
Nick Markham: I was a longtime user of OmniFocus, and after discovering Flow, I thought it was great for the collaborative aspect, but not as full featured as what I was used to. After spending a while using both systems in parallel, I realized that the amount of freedom in OmniFocus had led me to develop some bad habits. I would use the infinitely-nestable subtasks to get overly granular about my tasks, use the hourly due-dates and start dates to plan stuff out in so much detail it was not only impossible to maintain, but also a waste of time. So in a nutshell, I first thought it was too simple, but eventually realized it should be simple.
What are your favourite Flow features to use when planning out a project?
One of my favorite features is task comments and discussion threads, and we use them in several ways. The most common is just asking for clarification on a task (what format should this be, when was the last time someone contacted this person, etc). We also use them to track progress on complex or variable tasks. For example, a task might be getting signoff on a script, that may be rescheduled several times based on our client's input, but the comment thread can be updated with the latest steps that have been made towards completing the task each time it's rescheduled.
Another handy feature is the way anyone can modify their own tasks. I can assign a task with no due date (but a comment saying it needs to happen this week), and let the person executing on it set a due date that fits their schedule. The way Flow records every change made by every person also makes it handy to catch up with where a project is and how it got there.
Another feature I love is temporarily inviting contractors or seasonal employees to join Flow. Being able to assign tasks to people working out of the office is awesome, and the contractors have loved it every time we've used it (especially with the mobile app).
How has Flow helped Glass & Marker?
It's made me more aware of the way the rest of my team works. We used to all meet first thing in the morning, divvy up tasks, and then work on them at our own pace for the rest of the day, but all I would see is everything done by the next morning meeting. With Flow, every time you complete a task you're sending a mini communication to the rest of your team. Seeing the order and speed at which tasks are completed has given me a lot of insight into how each member of our team works, and understanding that has helped me be a better manager, and set more realistic timelines for our projects.
It's also just been great having everyone using the same system. Before Flow, some of us would use other task managers, some would write lists on paper, some would use the calendar, and some wouldn't write down anything at all. Now that we're all in Flow, it lets the more organized members of the team continue doing their thing, while making it easier for the others to get on the same page.