Another Reason to Love Dropbox. Paper!
Until recently, I really hadn’t given much thought to an online collaboration tool. I’ve used Slack a few times and I’ve tested various online project management apps, but they all seemed like overkill for my little business.
Dropbox just changed my mind.
For the past 11 years I’ve slowly transitioned from storing files on my computer hard drive to using a combination of removable storage and online file storage. The removable storage, small portable drives that I can plug in to either my desktop PC or my Macbook Pro, are something I adopted when I first started my business. They allowed me to store client files on something I could lock away in a fire-proof safe each night. Back then, online storage was new and still came with lots of security risks. Still, I adopted it for file storage that didn’t require a high level of security. Things like graphics and image files.
Over the years online storage has become more secure and compliant with security standards and regulations. After trying out lots of online storage options early in my business, a few years ago I finally settled on Dropbox. In my opinion, the security protocols and compliance were worth a monthly payment. Now use it as my primary file storage, with a few exceptions that still reside on removable storage. I have come to love Dropbox, from the ease of use to features like having an expiration date on a shared file. In fact, I didn’t think Dropbox could do much more to make me fall any deeper in love than I already was. Until they introduced their online collaboration tool, Paper.
When Paper was first announced, I was sort of underwhelmed.
I don’t have a staff, so I didn’t clearly see how I could benefit from this new addition to my favorite file storage in the cloud. I could see how this might be useful for businesses a little different from mine but I didn’t see me using it. How wrong I was.
One of my services is designing and building WordPress websites. If you’ve ever been through the process, it includes a lot of emailing. Back and forth with draft designs, image choices, graphic designs, etc. I can certainly share files in Dropbox, yet conversations about what the client likes, doesn’t like, or may like if it could be changed a bit, leads to email chains a mile long. Recently, after searching through a particularly long email chain I decided it was probably time I found an online collaboration tool. As I began checking out some of the more popular services I happened to log in to my Dropbox dashboard on a browser and there it was. A link to Paper.
Online Collaboration Tool Features
This time when I checked out the features I saw them differently. Like how I can connect Paper to my Office 365 calendar. This allows me to set up a meeting note that can be used by both myself and a client during a consultation call. We can make notes in the same document as we are discussing a project on the phone or Skype. Or we can forgo the call altogether and simply communicate via text, or even a voice file right in the Paper document. I can add photos or graphics, links to URL’s, and even videos from a long list of services. The list includes YouTube, Spotify, Google Docs, Facebook, Slideshare and Instagram. Overall, it is a far superior way to take notes during a consultation.
Project Management that fits my kind of business
After the consultation I can create a Design document and load draft images of custom graphics, logos or even new page layouts for the client’s input. I can create a to do list based on feedback allowing the client to see at a glance what I’ve completed, and I can get feedback on changes to designs quickly and easily without the need to set up the time for another call before moving forward.
Adding Collaborators and Assigning Tasks
Even though I don’t have staff to assign tasks to, sometimes my clients do. Paper makes it easy to invite more collaborators and assign tasks. Things like getting page content created and sent to me for adding to web pages. I love this. It gives me direct access to the person who is responsible for the task and stops all of those emails to the ‘middle-man’.
Paper also has an app for my iPhone and iPad so I can collaborate with clients even when I am out of the office. Not to mention if we lose power in a major winter storm here in the Maine woods. And since most of my files reside on Dropbox, I have no problem accessing any graphics files or images that I may need to share.
I’m sure I haven’t even scratched the surface of how useful this online collaboration tool is going to be for my business. Dropbox, you have renewed our love affair. You had me at Paper.