Reducing Friction Losses for the Freelancer, pt. 1

In the previous post, we discussed Friction Losses, which are mostly due to administrative overhead or inefficient tools. Ofuz helps freelancers reduce Friction Losses. Let’s take a look at how Ofuz can make life better for the freelancer.

From Status Report-Readers to Collaborators

Does anyone really like creating or reading status reports? Don’t get me wrong, it’s important for freelancers to keep their clients in the know about project status, risks, and milepost completion. But with Ofuz, you can convert status report-readers into stakeholders and collaborators by providing more granular updates, and inviting stakeholder participation. The result can be tighter collaboration and better project workflow.

Here’s a quick walkthrough of how our freelancer would use Ofuz to keep his client, co-workers, and any subcontractors he’s employed in the know:

  1. Our freelancer creates a new project in Ofuz.
  2. He adds contacts for client stakeholders, co-workers, and/or subcontractors, and then adds these new contacts to the project.
  3. Our freelancer adds tasks to the project.
  4. Any time he has something he wants to remember, or report to client stakeholders, co-workers, or subcontractors, our freelancer adds notes to project tasks, sometimes using the @username nudge feature to help stakeholders know when their involvement or response is required.

So what has our intrepid freelancer gained from using Ofuz in this situation?

  • The client is more comfortable because they’re not waiting for a weekly status update. They know the current status immediately.
  • Our freelancer has a documentation trail for their own reference. Any medium or large project gets complex and demands that the freelancer track detail carefully. With Ofuz, these notes are integrated into a single place, made searcheable, and are sent by email to clients (and co-wokers) if they want. So one stone kills two birds: our freelancer’s project notes also become micro-updates to the client and co-wokers, with no extra effort on the freelancer’s part.
  • Project status and client communication are integrated to a single interface, rather than being spread among multiple email threads, documents, etc.

What About Those Weekly Status Reports?

Most clients will probably still want them so you’ll still send them, but with Ofuz you can save some time and effort.

Ofuz has a great email list feature that reveals itself to you when you select one or more contacts. But first, our freelancer spends a few minutes creating a status report template. To create an email template:

  1. From anywhere in Ofuz, click Settings.
  2. On the left of the screen, click Email Templates.

Here, our freelancer creates a template for his weekly status report, using mail merge fields wherever possible. For more information on this Ofuz feature, see this post.

Then, when our freelancer is ready to create a weekly status report, he does the following:

  1. From anywhere in Ofuz, click the Contacts tab.
  2. Select the recipients for the status report (remember, you can import contacts from Gmail, Facebook, and Twitter). Remember you can also tag your recipients and select multiple contacts based on a common tag.
  3. After selecting the recipients, our freelancer clicks Send a Message from the context menu.
  4. The Send Message window appears. Our freelancer selects the email template they previously created, and then fills in the particulars for this week’s status report.
  5. Our freelancer clicks Send Mailing and gets back to making money (or knocks off early for happy hour!).

Using the Ofuz email template for weekly status reports helps automate a repetitive task. Sure, our freelancer could send out status reports from his email account using an attached PDF or the like, but there’s a friction loss caused by switching tools. Ofuz is a unified system that helps reduce these kinds of friction losses.

Better File Sharing With Ofuz

Our freelancer is now using Ofuz for the majority of his communication with stakeholders and co-workers now. That’s great, but what about files he needs to send to his client, and files that his client needs to send him?

Here at Ofuz, we love our product passionately, but we know its limits. Ofuz is not designed to replace a full-featured file repository and versioning system like SVN or DropBox. However, Ofuz has a great file sharing portal that can replace email attachments as a means for sending files to and from clients. You know, those single-file attachments you would usually use email to send?

For our freelancer to send files to his client or to co-workers is easy:

  1. From anywhere in Ofuz, click the Tasks tab.
  2. Click the note icon to the right of the task name (it looks like this: ).
  3. In the Get into the discussion field, type an explanatory note for the file you are about to attach.
  4. Click More Options.
  5. Click Choose File, and then browse to and select the file you want to attach.
  6. Click Add this item.

That’s it! Anyone who has access to the project can get this file now. Remember, that if you need a specific person to see the file, you can always use the @username nudge feature to notify them about the new file attachment.

Now, how about when our freelancer’s client needs to send files to the freelancer? Even if they don’t have an Ofuz user account, our freelancer can create a web-based portal where the client can upload files to the project. It’s easy!

  1. From anywhere in Ofuz, click the Contacts tab.
  2. Click on the contact’s name (not the white space around the contact).
  3. The contact detail page appears. On the left side of the window, click share files and notes.
  4. Click Click Here to Turn on File Sharing with contactname.
  5. Ofuz will give you a personalized web address that they can use to upload files and notes to the project.

Stay Tuned For More

In the next post on Friday of this week, we’ll continue to see how our intrepid freelancer can continue to lubricate his workflow and reduce Friction Losses using Ofuz. If you have any thoughts on this post, please let us know in the comments!

You can sign up and try Ofuz right now.

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