With companies located across time zones, and sometimes even entirely remotely, teams across the world are drawing on collaborative project management tools. Teams need tools which will enable them to effectively project plan and task manage, regardless of whether they’re located in the same office or across countries.
An Interview with Adriana Ramirez, Grupo JHR
To speak about how collaborative project management tools have made an impact on their business, we chatted with Adriana Ramirez. Adriana is Head of Projects 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 center. However, the transportation warehouses we use 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. Our aim is to have a good overview of what’s going on in each department. Last year we underwent a restructure, to focus more on project development and become less departmentalized. To overcome our locational difficulties, we really needed to draw upon ways to improve our remote working. At that point, we began looking for collaborative project management tools and found MeisterTask, MindMeister and G Suite. The tools connect 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 organized?
As we went through the restructure last year, MindMeister and MeisterTask played a significant role the transition. We brainstormed project ideas and developed these thoughts into strategic mind maps. Then we saw these plans through with the collaborative project management tool, MeisterTask.
MindMeister was ideal for the planning stage as the tool is cloud-based and updated in real-time. This enabled us to meet efficiently, whether we were together in San Jose or brainstorming remotely with the Limon team. With MindMeister we were able to share the meeting mind map and visualize our shared ideas. From there we went through the proposed ideas and decided which plans to go ahead with.
Once decided, we divided plans by their project area and converted them into tasks within MeisterTask, using the MindMeister integration. Making sure every idea was turned into action left us assured 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. We used the collaborative project management tool to plan infrastructure, organize human resources and instruct staff taking on new roles. We assigned every new task to one 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 also able to contribute to shared documents in real-time. For this, we use G Suite.
We edit planning documents in Google Docs, prepare our finance reports in Google Sheets and conference call over Google Hangouts. With these collaborative tools we feel integrated and on the same page, despite being located physically apart.
The ability to integrate G Suite with collaborative project management tools, MeisterTask and MindMeister, is a huge added bonus. Using Google Docs, departmental managers are able to upload documents to the relevant project task. Subsequently, our Directors at head office always view the correct and up-to-date documents for the task in question.
Do you have an example of how you’ve used these tools in action?
The main use case would definitely be collaborative project management.
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 visualize and share all ideas, in real-time, is perfect.
Not long ago we decided to build a pool specifically for children’s swimming lessons, within our sports center. When planning the project, the key players needed to brainstorm the concept and relevant details in MindMeister. A mind map was created covering ideas 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 based on these questions, to finalize the project strategy. This provided a good understanding of whether the project would be feasible and profitable. We used a Google Sheet to collate the financial report and conducted 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. The project management team then shared it with the contractors. We, therefore, provided all relevant team members with an overview of the project, thought processes and background research.
The team 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. The facility managers subsequently drew on 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 more efficient. Ideas are conceptualized with ease through mind mapping at meetings. Then, 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 have a clear overview of project progression. If managers have 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 among the Directors of projects have reduced as a result. Everyone feels on the same page with progression and knows how to step in if there are any doubts. It also makes it a lot easier for departmental managers to report back to the 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 helped us to turn 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.