Tips, tricks, advice, and answers for the 21stcentury global workspace.
Q: Dear Baird’s CMC,
I am working on a multi-country study for a major pharma company, which involves intensive research and interaction with numerous stakeholders. The result is that my inbox is deluged with emails and countless drafts of the study, and I feel overwhelmed! My desktop screen looks like a tornado hit it – I can never find the file I am looking for or the latest draft that I require. Because of all this confusion, often my colleagues and I work off of the wrong draft or miss an important email, and the result is wasted time and mass confusion. I am at my wits’ end… any tips on how to better organise this process??
– Digitally Dizzy
A: Dear Digitally Dizzy,
Fear not – there are many virtual tools that can make this whole process much easier for your colleagues and yourself. Chris Nial, our project manager extraordinaire, is a pro at helping organisations streamline their projects better to ensure maximum time efficiency and ease of process. “Creating a well-organised foundation for a project ensures its sustainability in the long run, whether that’s for the next few months or the next few years. Small details can create a big impact,” says Chris. While each project requires its own customised project management strategy depending on its unique parameters, Chris does have a few universal suggestions that can make a world of difference to any project you undertake.
Most importantly, make use of virtual workspaces like Clarizen, CentralDesktop, GoogleApps, or Podio. These allow for online to-do lists, calendars, time trackers, and bulletin boards accessible to all members of the team, as well as a centrally located space to upload the various drafts of the project. By using a central location that stores all the relevant information at all times, you can eliminate a lot of needless inbox clutter and confusion for everyone. Also, don’t forget the basics. A small detail like document labelling can either make or break a project. Create a clear and consistent labelling system that everyone follows, something like “file name_version_date” (e.g., pharma study_v1draft_04Sep11). If the draft has been edited by a particular person, put the person’s initials in front of the date (e.g., pharma study_v1draft_CN04Sep11). This allows for easy identification of the most recent draft or version (v1, v2, v3, etc.). When you are sure the document is final, change the name to reflect this (e.g. pharma_study_vFINAL_CN04Sep11).
Lastly, don’t forget to keep your workspace clean, whether that’s your desk or your desktop. Create a clearly marked folder in which to store any files downloaded or documents related to your project. You can also create a label or folder within your email inbox itself, which automatically stores and highlights all emails related to your project (you will need to input the right parameters and email addresses for this; usually your email provider’s FAQsection can help you). This not only helps you easily find whatever you are looking for, but also ensures that you maintain your sanity. Good luck with your project!