With companies located across time zones, and sometimes even entirely remotely, teams across the world are drawing on tools which will enable them to effectively collaborate, project plan and task manage, regardless of whether they’re located in the same office or across countries.
To speak about how collaborative tools have made an impact on their business, we chatted with Adriana Ramirez, Head of Projects and Continued Improvement at Grupo JHR – a Costa Rican business using MindMeister, MeisterTask and G Suite to keep things moving between their various departmental offices.
Could you begin by telling us a little about Grupo JHR?
So Grupo JHR was set up 40 years ago by my father in Costa Rica. Since then, the company has grown to a team of 100, spanning four companies across four different business sectors: transportation, health and fitness, real estate and finance.
And are those four business areas spread over Costa Rica?
Yes, we’re based at locations across Costa Rica and hope to soon expand beyond – our head office is in the capital of San Jose, along with the sports and fitness centre, while the warehouses we use within the transportation business, for example, are based in the port of Limon and in Guanacaste.
At our head office in San Jose, myself and the other Directors manage work centrally for the satellite business, trying to ensure that we have an overview of what’s going on in each department. Last year we underwent a restructure to focus more on project development and become less departmentalised. So to overcome these locational difficulties, we really needed to draw upon ways to collaborate better. This is where MeisterTask, MindMeister and G Suite have been particularly useful – connecting our departments across businesses and locations, to effectively see projects through.
It sounds like a lot to keep on top of – how have you used MeisterTask and MindMeister to stay organised?
As we went through the restructure last year, MindMeister and MeisterTask played a significant role in making the transition. We brainstormed project ideas and developed these into strategic mind maps, then saw these plans through with MeisterTask.
MindMeister was ideal for this as regardless of whether we were all meeting in one room in our head office in San Jose, or planning with the manager of the transportation department in Limon, we were able to share the mind map and visualise our shared ideas in real-time, to then go through and decide which plans to go ahead with.
We then divided these plans by their project area and converted them into tasks within MeisterTask using the MindMeister integration, making sure every idea was turned into action, and ensuring that everyone knew who was accountable for what.
As a result, last year MeisterTask was used to effectively define the whole status of the company transition, as we used the tool to plan infrastructure, organise human resources, instruct staff taking on new roles (particularly those picking up on existing projects), and assign every new task to the key team member, ensuring the transition was successfully seen through.
And how has G Suite helped with this too?
With us all working across different locations, it’s really important that we’re able to contribute to shared documents in real-time. For this we use G Suite.
We can edit a planning document in Google Docs, plan our finance report in Google Sheets and conference call over Google Hangouts. With these tools we feel far more integrated and on the same page, despite being located physically apart.
The ability to integrate G Suite with MeisterTask and MindMeister is a huge added bonus. Using Google Docs, departmental managers are able to upload documents to the relevant project task, ensuring the Directors at head office are viewing the correct and most up-to-date document for the task in question.
Do you have an example of how you’ve used these tools in action?
The main use case would be collaborative planning.
As a group of companies spread across four different business areas, our executive and management teams are drawn to creating new ideas for our current and future business opportunities. For this, having a tool like MindMeister where we can visualise and share all ideas, in real-time, is perfect.
So for example, not long ago we decided to build a small pool within our existing sports centre, in order to provide swimming lessons specifically for children. When planning the project, the key players needed to brainstorm the concept and relevant details – from there a mind map was created, covering ideas and information on what would appeal to children, what size and temperature the facility should be, whether it should be inside or outside etc.
We then undertook a market study on these questions in order to finalize the strategic mind map and gather a good understanding of whether the project would be feasible and profitable, using a Google Sheet to collate the financial report and conducting our meetings over Google Hangouts.
Having decided to go ahead with the facility extension, we shared the strategic mind map with the project management team, who also shared it with the contractors, to provide all relevant team members with an overview of the details, thought processes and background research.
The project manager then converted these thoughts into actionable tasks, using MeisterTask. This project board was then taken forward to provide the backbone of the construction process and post-construction stage, as the facility managers drew on the knowledge shared in both the mind map and project board when organizing the swimming instruction calendar and marketing the swimming lessons locally.
It sounds like a great workflow – do you feel like collaboration tools have helped that?
In one word – yes.
With the collaborative nature of MindMeister and MeisterTask, I would definitely say that our projects have become far more efficient. Ideas are conceptualized with ease through mind mapping at meetings, and with the MeisterTask integration, the process of seeing these ideas through to implementation has been shortened.
Our Head of Directors is a pilot by trade so he loves the fact that project managers using MeisterTask can have a clear overview of all of the projects, and see how things are progressing, at a glance. If he has any questions or concerns, these can be quickly and directly voiced via the task in question, using the comment feature.
I would say anxiety levels amongst the Directors of projects have reduced as a result, as everyone feels on the same page with progression, and knows how easy it is to step-in if there are any doubts. It also makes it a lot easier for departmental managers to report back to the team of Directors at our head office, keeping everyone informed.
Our Head of Directors is goal-minded and these collaboration tools – MindMeister, MeisterTask and G Suite – have really helped us to make these goals into reality.
Huge thanks to Adriana and the team at Grupo JHR for featuring in the interview and walking us through their workflows.