Wilderness Youth Project is a non-profit organization in Santa Barbara, California, dedicated to fostering confidence, health, and a lifelong love of learning through outdoor experiences and mentoring. They connect young people and families from diverse backgrounds to the natural world and help them build naturalist skills. Participants report more confidence, better interpersonal skills, increased physical competence, and deepened respect for the physical world. Anthony Hickling, development coordinator for Wilderness Youth Project, discovered Teamwork Projects when his small team needed an improved online project management system to manage an increased workload. Here’s how he discovered Teamwork Projects and uses it to track multiple projects and stay on top of priorities for each day or an entire project.

“Our team isn’t large, but we depend on the advanced features in Teamwork Projects to complete projects on time and with every detail in place. We tell others all the time how happy we are with Teamwork Projects, and we are very grateful to have access to such excellent software.”

The Challenges

Before moving to Teamwork Projects, the development “department” at Wilderness Youth Project consisted of one person who used GQueues, Google’s online task manager, to manage tasks and project details. As the organization grew and and another person was added to the development team, Anthony knew they needed better software to stay ahead of deadlines and the additional responsibilities. Anthony and his new team member knew they had the skills to coordinate several new projects simultaneously, but they doubted that GQueues could give them the support they needed.

“GQueues was not robust enough for us to envision and prioritize multiple projects. We knew we needed a software that could handle multiple lists, start dates, and deadlines, while presenting them in a clear and manageable way.”

Specifically, Anthony wanted software with reporting tools that could help them look at the big picture of their projects, not just to-do lists and deadlines. Other software was either too simple or the UI made it difficult to use, and and Anthony wanted to make sure his two-person dev team was spending as much time as possible working on projects, not recording their progress.

The Solution

As Anthony reviewed and compared project management software options, he narrowed the choices to Teamwork Projects and Asana. In the end, he selected Teamwork Projects because of the start date and dependent subtasks features.

“Project management software has changed a lot in two years, but at the time, Teamwork Projects was the only company that offered automatically-linked tasks so everyone knew what action they needed to take next.”

Task dependencies allow the development team to plot out an entire project in a clear, logical progression so the team can view every phase of the project. As changes inevitably occur, Anthony’s team can quickly alter the schedule, and the new deadlines are automatically adjusted. One of the team’s favorite features, the Gantt chart, makes these changes even easier. They use the Gantt chart to get a quick overview of all of the active projects, and then click and drag tasks to make adjustments.

“The Gantt chart helps us get a mental snapshot of our tasks and evaluate how we are performing in relationship to those plans. We can easily update milestones, and we like the option to color-code projects depending on their level of completion.”   

The Benefits

Having such an in-depth perspective on each project has not only helped Anthony’s team keep details from slipping through the cracks, but they can see which phases of projects tend to go smoothly, where there are bottlenecks, and how they can adjust instantaneously to make the needed corrections. For the big picture, or to prepare for upcoming projects, they turn to the Gantt charts to see every aspect on one screen. On a daily basis, they rely on the Daily Report that arrives each morning via email. That short list of priorities helps them cut through the different possibilities that could pull their attention away from priorities that truly need their attention.

“Teamwork Projects has provided us with a platform to visualize and communicate both big-picture goals and specific tasks. We can evaluate our performance, prepare for upcoming projects, or just see what’s next on our to-do list for the day.”

The result is that they are managing more projects than they thought was possible from their lean team, and that they improved their on-time deliveries. The software has cut out hours of indecision and dramatically increased their productivity. Other software platforms have since expanded to create the complex features that most development teams demand, but Anthony’s team within Wilderness Youth Projects has no intention of looking for another solution. With Teamwork Projects, they have all of the tools to keep adding new project capacity and add additional team members down the road, if needed.

“Most software is adequate for creating to-do lists, but Teamwork Projects provides levels of insight into projects in a way that we’ve never had before.”