Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Keeping on Track

Before I went full time on my business, I used to be able to keep track of my clients in my head. I rarely had more than one or two at any time, so keeping track was pretty easy. Afterwards, though, my client list began to grow and I knew that things would begin to fall through the cracks if I didn't come up with a system.

So, I started keeping a list on the whiteboard next to my desk. It was pretty simple -- just a list of the clients and a one-word status message. I kept a more detailed document as a Google Docs spreadsheet. It's been working pretty well, but, as you can see, my business has continued to grow and now I'm starting to run out of room.

Maybe I need a bigger whiteboard?

This is all an overly long preamble into talking about an online tool that helps to keep track of all of this information. It's called

CreativeProOffice is a free service (I'm not sure how they pay for it as there don't seem to be any ads). With it you can track clients, projects, tasks, files, and even submit invoices. It's a remarkably complete service. It's not perfect for me, but I could easily adapt it. So, why am I not converting everything over to using this service?

Well, I'll tell ya. It has to do with the nature of free software. If it were an application that I could download and use on my desktop, I probably would. Even if UpStart Productions (the maker of CPO) decided to stop supporting the application, I would at least have it on my computer and could use it for many years before I might run into problems. Unfortunately, this is an online service. If UpStart decides to stop supporting it, the site could vanish overnight, leaving me without a tool that I might have come to depend upon. I need to think long and hard about whether that is an acceptable risk.

So, would you use such a service to track your clients and projects? What are you using right now?

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