10up is an award winning, full-service digital agency serving some of the largest and most influential brands, organizations, and content creators around the world, including Microsoft, Time, ESPN and Adobe. Representing 30+ states across the US and 10 other countries, 10up’s full-time staff of more than 200 team members work remotely from communities around the world to deliver finely crafted websites and tools for content creators.
World-class websites and a worldwide approach have always been part of 10up’s DNA, and they’ve been the agency’s defining features as far as its clients are concerned. However, until a few years ago, something was holding 10up back from peak productivity and performing to its highest-potential.
According to 10up Associate Director of Client Delivery Christina Siegler,, the agency’s previous project management platform, Basecamp, was a source of frustration and inefficiency. In particular, 10up’s project managers and engineers found that the software was complicating workflows rather than simplifying them.
“One example was that when we had to estimate the time required for a task, we would literally have to put an (8) in the title of the task, so everyone would know the estimate was eight hours,” says Christina.
This inefficient solution created additional work for 10up’s project managers, who had to manually add up the time estimates in their Basecamp task titles. Valuable time was being lost every day to this needless admin task.
“It was very frustrating for project managers, because they had to manually add up all the time estimates and export it into a spreadsheet” says Christina.
Time consuming, manual tasks eventually led 10up to to look for another solution. They embarked on an in-depth research process into several competing project management tools, including Teamwork, Asana, Jira, Wrike – and we’re delighted to say that Teamwork came out on top for 10up.
Teamwork has become the solution for 10up’s communication and collaboration with its clients, many of which are leading players in their industries.
Within Teamwork, we assign tasks to our clients, and vice versa,” says Christina. “For example, they put in a task like ‘fix XYZ’, we do the work, we QA the work, and then we reassign the task to them.
This free-flowing collaboration wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for the fact Teamwork is easy for clients to use. As Christina puts it: “It’s very important that we use a tool our clients feel comfortable using — one that doesn’t require us to lead clients through a complex onboarding process or detailed orientation.”
"With 95% of our clients, we can simply introduce our tool and demonstrate how we use it. Then, just like that, we’re ready to collaborate."
Another dimension of accommodating 10up’s clients – and let’s not forget, these include some of the world’s leading tech and media brands – is the need to enable workflows that fit the client’s own internal pressures and preferences.
Client relationships will often begin with a one-off project, then move into a retainer for support and feature iterations. This gives the agency a roughly 40/60 split between project-based work and retainer work within their client delivery services team. When it comes to the larger monthly retainers that keep 10uppers busy, the client will often want to work in two- or three-week sprints, in-keeping with their agile working methodologies.
“Our contacts want to be able to say to their bosses, ‘Here’s what we did in this period: we finished these things, we packaged them up, and released them in X amount of time,’” says Christina.
“Although we follow a loosely agile model, Teamwork enables us to adapt to any client’s preferred approach, including sprints.”
While 10up’s clients enjoy a simple experience of staying in touch with the agency via Teamwork, the 10up team itself has access to a host of clever communications options, enabling a tailored approach to each client.
The flexibility of Teamwork’s privacy and permissions has been a key benefit to the 10up team in its collaborations. Christina places especially high importance on the capability to configure clients’ access to the detail of project work.
“In many cases, we have tasks that begin as internal only — where our internal team collaborates before giving a client access. Teamwork gives us the flexibility to define who has visibility and access to tasks,” she says.
Teamwork’s privacy settings also enable 10up to post comments which are invisible to the client on tasks, as well as other comments that are visible to everyone in the project.
"Granular privacy permissions are a key feature many other project management tools don’t offer, and for us, it’s critical."
On a less technical level, the capability to send messages to clients within Teamwork has proven especially valuable to 10up, and has become a routine part of its work.
“We avoid communicating with clients via email and instead, use Teamwork to create one source of truth for all project communication,” says Christina.
“Everyone is in Teamwork, so it’s literally the tool that we use throughout our day and the most important tool we use.”
A lot of competing project management tools don’t have a messaging feature comparable to Teamwork’s.
The flexibility of permissions, client access and messaging in Teamwork has helped 10up to implement seamless communications with its clients, enabling the quality of collaboration needed to deliver top-class websites.
We’ve chosen to focus this case study on collaboration between 10up’s distributed team and its clients – but really, the piece could have been about any of a number of Teamwork features. For instance, 10up has also taken to using milestones, which let stakeholders know when a landmark moment in a project has been reached. Any stakeholder, from the client to Christina, can glance at a milestone within a Teamwork project and get the big-picture steer on project progress that they need.
And, of course, where Basecamp left 10up’s project managers with no choice but to type time estimates into task titles, Teamwork offers tasks with a time estimate feature, plus the capability to automatically calculate the time required to complete all the tasks in a project.
For 10up, Teamwork has provided the key to easy collaboration on tasks and configurable communications – as well as offering a host of valuable features including milestones and task time estimates. This all serves to help Christina and her globe-trotting team do what they do best: making outstanding websites for some of the biggest media and tech brands on the planet.
"This is the most important tool we use. If it’s not in Teamwork, it’s not happening."