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What’s in a name?

Last week we talked about the dreaded question, “Am I using it right? I suggested that as activeCollab users, we forget about the “right” way, and seek to find the way that works for us.

One major roadblock I often see when talking with people is that it’s easy to get hung up on the names of features — and miss out on the benefits of the function.

This week’s tip…

Forget about the names. Focus on what each “function” can do for you and your team!

Here’s what I mean: What comes to mind when you hear the word Ticket? It depends on who you ask. The concept of Tickets is a popular one in the Customer Support world, and because of this, a lot of activeCollab users can be confused about the value of, or even dismiss Tickets altogether. Most of us have some sort of experience with Tickets. The first thing that may come to mind is “Trouble Tickets”, but what if we removed the name of this feature for just a few minutes and reviewed the functions for what they bring to the table? Could you and your team, or clients approach these differently?

With each of our new nameless “mystery objects” we can….

1. Start with a main body area to post content, i.e. questions, copy, attachments, notes, links, images, etc.

2. Associate this mystery object to a category, milestone, due date.

3. Assign a person, or multiple persons…. one of them being ultimately responsible. And they will get an email notification when they are assigned.

4. Subscribe people for future updates and notifications even if they aren’t assigned to it – great for monitoring progress.

5. Reply to the email notifications to send in feedback, attachments, or give approval on the content of the notifications and it will be added to the running commentary on the thread.

6. Easily get back to the main content and review the history of work and comments related to this mystery object right from an email notification link.

7. On top of all this, add a related task for ourselves or someone else, and set a due date with the same great email notifications and automated reminders x days from the due date.

8. Mark it as completed and it will be automatically be available in an archive for future reference.

9. Not only this, but you could have an unlimited number of these objects as part of a larger object called a Project!

10. Ok I may have gotten carried away…. but there’s more… and I’m sure you could come up with some of your own too.

Sooo… do you think you could put a feature like this to use?

Now are we seeing the the same limitations as we did when we just thought of these as Tickets?

Are your team or clients seeing limitations based on the names of features like Tickets, Milestones, Tasks…. even Projects? Did you know that getting past this could be as easy as renaming it with a Localization file?

What’s a Localization file? Here’s another great example…the Localization file’s purpose is to support multiple languages i.e. German, Spanish, Dutch, etc…. But if we don’t get hung up on the original purpose, we can leverage the value of the feature! After all, aren’t we really talking about “language” anyway? It’s about getting your activeCollab installation speaking your “language” that makes it most usable.

Take some time to think if naming alone may be holding you back. Could “Requests” be a better name for Tickets in your environment? It was for one of our clients. What about any of these… Subprojects, Articles, Missions, Campaigns, or [insert your ideas here]? How about you? Do you need to find a new name for Tickets? OR just a new perspective so you can jump in and use it differently? Apply the same principles to Projects, Milestones, Pages, and Tasks too!

I hope this inspires you to ignore the “names” of features and focus on the “function”! With activeCollab there are so many possibilities to create a system that is perfect for the way you want to work, these suggestions are just the beginning. If you need help with a new perspective or optimizing for your needs — I’d be happy to help you more in a Rock Your Workflow session or three :)

BACK TO SCHOOL BONUS: For all my fellow students of life and perpetual learners… We’re offering a Rock Your Workflow special right now in the spirit of Back to School. Just enter the promo code BACK2WORKFLOWSCHOOL — and you’ll get 20% off on Rock Your Workflows (and anything else in your cart too!)

Am I Using it Right?

Let’s face it … we’ve all asked ourselves this question at some point in time in any activity, especially when it’s seeming harder than we thought…

Maybe it’s because we thought it should be easier. Maybe it’s just a remnant feeling from growing up in a school system that taught us there was really only one “right way” to do something. Whatever the source, it’s looming there in the back of our minds, nagging us like the buy now screen in some trial software.

This is often one of the key questions I get during our Rock Your Workflow sessions, and I’m not surprised at all… because this question itself inspires everyone in different ways. There seem to be two categories of people who respond to this question quite differently:

1. The push-harder group: For some of us, this question becomes a quest to continue to improve our workflow and seek out anything that will potentially help on that quest. We might own every single 3rd party module we can get our hands on, or we’ve personally customized our activeCollab installation until it’s almost unrecognizable from its original form! I’d say for this group, that burning question helps to fuel our improvement. We have turned this question into a positive for ourselves — and that’s a great feeling!

2. The walking on eggshells group: There’s another group of us out there too: those who can be held back by this confidence shaking question… Am “I” using it right? This group is walking on eggshells with every step of using activeCollab or anything we use because MAYBE the way we are using it… is not the “best” way. We’re paralyzed by the thought that there is only one way to get it right. But for this group, I believe that activeCollab can help liberate us from the “only one way to do things” mindset that we may have been taught. Sure, you’ll find better ways to do things than others, and maybe it was intended to be used differently than you are using it… but that’s not what matters right now.

The truth is… we all probably have a bit of both approaches in us.  So Regardless of how you react to, “Am I using it right?”, the most important question is…

What works for you and your team?

The raw unadulterated value of activeCollab, and why I feel that it’s often a popular choice for those moving from a more rigid system (yes, I’ll say it… Basecamp), is because the reality is one size (or shape) doesn’t fit all. Many get to a point where working around the system they are using, or with someone else’s mindset, becomes unproductive—and they now want to begin to shape things to fit their needs more. (Sure, they also often make the change because they are paying $150 per month, and having those limitations starts to eat at them.)

When working with activeCollab, keep in mind that YOU are in control – how do YOU want things used? Even if it’s not the initial purpose of the feature, does a work around help YOU and YOUR team? Make that part of your workflow and teach your team to use the system that way. In the next few weeks, I’ll share some more on this topic… Up Next, how a simple language feature can help your thinking and your workflow! Stay tuned for more.

Also if you haven’t already checked out the free article 7 Tips to make them love activeCollab, why not download it now

Here’s what some others are saying about the tips…

“Keep up the good work! I’m looking forward to reading about new stuff for activeCollab from you…!” Steven via email

“I hadn’t even looked at themes…  Installed the Modern theme – it makes a big difference!” @drewm via Twitter

I hope this inspires you to break through the question of, “Am I doing this right?” and find your own “right” way of using it. And then just keep making it more “right” for you as you go. If you need help with a new perspective or optimizing for your needs — we’re happy to help you in a Rock Your Workflow session or three icon smile Am I Using it Right?


P.S. — Are you following us on Facebook or Twitter? If not, we’d love to hear from you — ask a question, start a discussion, or just say hi! If you’ve invested in our products or if you are just keeping up to date on what we are doing… we’d love to hear from you!

7 Tips to Getting the Thumbs Up from your Clients and Team in activeCollab

A.K.A. —  Silence the Haters  & Get Everyone else Excited

It seems like everyday we’re talking with someone who’s getting started with activeCollab or asking about how they can get their team interested in using it more.

To help you with this goal, we’ve put together this list of tips inspired by our personal experience and conversations with other activeCollab users around the world who have shared their challenges…

First step, get yourself ready…

Before we get started, take a few seconds and open up your mind to some new possibilities — if you are trying AC for the first time, forget your past experience with other systems and if you’ve been at this for a while already… don’t let the past challenges cloud your mind while you read. Open up to the possibilities and see how you can look at these tips with fresh eyes!  Also keep your users in mind, they may not all be just like you… (OMG I hope not, that would be quite the one dimensional team)…. so what do they need? how would these tips help them? and which tips apply to the different users in your sphere?

1.  Name that Puppy….

How sad is it when you call your new puppy “puppy”? Give your activeCollab a new friendly name that everyone can use to refer to it…. so they know what to call it and they can feel a part of something great, instead of just having some productivity tool forced on them! (Added bonus, now the focus is on this great tool you have called ______ and not some great tool someone else created )

Keep in mind this name needs to work for Team, Clients and Vendors — or whoever you may include in the future. A name ensures everyone is talking about the same thing and it also relays that this is something more permanent not just “another thing we are trying”.

Examples:  HQ, Projects, Dashboard… these might be a bit too generic on their own but add your company name or get creative!  The best fit depends on your organization — give it some personality if that works with your brand….  we might call ours The Lab :)

Added bonus, setup a subdomain or custom domain — i.e., so users aren’t always trying to remember how to get there.

2. Timing is everything….

Choose the right time to introduce them to your project management system (insert your name here).  Mentioning you use a project management tool to responsibly track the progress of projects and allow customers to oversee the process and provide input is great but don’t send them their logins at the first client meeting (probably obvious).

When should you get them started?  That’s a great question… I’d say it’s different for every situation, it depends on the client, type of project, how you use activeCollab (or any system) and how prepared you are for that team member or client to be involved.  Adding them at the wrong time adds to the confusion and they are less likely to use it again…. remember the sayings about first impressions… give your system a good first impression.

3. Video is your friend —

We highly recommend using video screencasts to show your team, clients, vendors or anyone the proverbial ropes of the system. (Actually using screencasts can be an amazing tool in your day to day work too).  It doesn’t take long to create a quick screencast of the whole experience from each role’s perspective.  Any time you invest here will save you a TON of time when it comes to getting new users oriented, fixing things they’ve done incorrectly and/or processing information they have sent from outside the system because they didn’t understand it :)   Not to mention, you will hear things like “wow, that was so easy to follow” and “these guys have it all together”.  Those bonus points will come in handy  :)!  Users being comfortable is the top priority mission — it allows them to be productive and confident when clicking submit on that new ticket or comment.

Another great thing about video, post it where they can go back and watch it again if they haven’t used your system for a month (no they don’t log in everyday to just see your sexy avatar and browse the progress).

Again saving you another phone call about, “I can’t remember how to login” or “where do I go when I get in there again?”.

This same principle has worked great for us with our activeCollab products, but not everyone thinks to use it for their own systems  — here’s an example



Looking for more tips?

Find out how to improve the look and feel of your dashboard, save more time, learn easy ways to customize your dashboard and more.

Click on the Download button below:


What's cooking at ActiveLabs? Summer Update!

Sizzling savings, new modules for activeCollab & more.

With burgers, dogs and sausages on the grill, there’s summery hotness outside.  It’s hot in here at ActiveLabs too!

We’ve got a buzz (from all this barbecue sauce), and we want to fill you in on July’s goods for your activeCollab needs.  Exciting things are happening, new Labs are being released, and hot sales are melting like the ice cubes in our iced teas:

20% off site-wide savings with Quickify

Lots of people took advantage of the Quickify site-wide 20% off deal.  They scooped up Tabinator, Private Milestones, Cloud Backup, and the newbie-Quickify-on which we’re getting great feedback! Some even used this opportunity to take advantage of some Rock Your Workflow sessions! If you missed the deal we’re likely to make an exception (email us).

Rock Your Workflow IconGet Tabinator’s updates for free.

We are just about to release a brand new version and if you bought Tabinator Pro in the last year — you’ll get the updates for free (new features include – unlimited filter and url tabs, a new advanced admin area to set up tabs for roles across the board, default tab options, custom colors on tab indicators and  and more!)  Don’t have Tabinator Pro yet?  On Friday, the price is going up (like the temperature) but if you buy before Midnight on Friday, July 22nd you’ll get it at the current price with all the updates when they release!  Buy Tabinator Pro now.

Rock Your Workflow IconBuy 2 get 1 Free – Workflow Sessions

We’ve been enjoying the last couple of months working on new products, doing custom development, and meeting some of you in Rock Your Workflow sessions…  We’d like to meet and help more of you so we’re offering a Summer deal: Get 3 Rock Your Workflow sessions for the price of 2 in July. Offer ends July 31st.

Asking yourself… What is a Rock Your Workflow? Learn more

Drumroll please… (You can use your chicken drumstick!)

Rock Your Workflow IconQuick Fix Bundle available NOW!

Sometimes it’s the small improvements that make a big difference.  Do you wish external sites and attachments opened in new tabs?  Dream of downloading all attachments at once? These and a couple more “quick fixes” are going to bring a refreshing breeze to your workflow.  Plus, anyone that sinks their teeth into the first Quick Fix bundle will have the opportunity to influence the next Quick Fix Bundle. (Yes, we plan to make this a new series… if you like the idea, buy the bundle and send us your ideas for next volume soon!)

P.S. — We are throwing in a previously unreleased module called Bulk Mover (we use it everyday) as a bonus for anyone buying the QuickFix bundle this week ($29 Value for FREE).


Buy Quick Fix Bundle now  $ 47

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Our ideas and new products are cooking up even faster than our barbecue.  There’s more in store!  After this email we head back into The Labs! And thanks, as always, to our rockin’ clients.

We’d love for you to share your comments below about the Quick Fix Bundle and other updates!

Thanks again for all the great feedback we’ve received from everyone!

P.S. — Are you following us on Facebook or Twitter?  If not, we’d love to to have you follow us — ask a question, start a discussion, or just say hi! If you’ve invested in our products or if you are just keeping up to date on what we are doing…  follow us and join the conversation!

What would you do if you lost your activeCollab?

Consider this: It’s 3:00 am. Your server has crashed.
Do you know where your data is? Are you SURE it’s intact?

You cannot afford to lose your valuable information.

If you don’t have an offsite backup plan for this important data…

don’t you think you should??

Cloud Backup is a reliable, fully-functioning system that regularly and consistently archives your irreplaceable project management data. It is a no-nonsense solution for people not currently backing up their data in a secure way. ( FYI – Backing up your data to the same server that holds the original data… THAT IS NOT SAFE! )

Cloud Backup will free you from the stress of keeping regular backups of your data so that you can focus completely on running your business. We intentionally made Cloud Backup an easy-to-use tool with simple instructions for initial setup and practically no work for you after that!

You can literally SET IT AND FORGET IT!

Learn More @

Start this New Year off with added peace of mind, knowing your hard work is safe in the Cloud! Happy New Year from ActiveLabs!

Thanks, Happy Holidays & What's New!

Happy Holidays and a Productive New Year!

As the year is coming to a close, we just want to say thanks to all of you who have been following what we do here at ActiveLabs.  Congratulations for investing in yourselves with your hard earned money to take your activeCollab experience to new places — nothing excites us more than hearing how our products and services are making your life and work better!   Just like you, we’re excited for the new year coming up and we look  forward to sharing with you what we have in the works!  (We can hardly wait to tell you! )

Thanks for the great experiences we’ve all had together over the last few months from Rocking Your Workflows to chatting on the forums about new ideas, and providing support — there’s a great sense of community building around activeCollab and we’re very thankful to be a part of it.

Now for Some Product Updates — There’s a new version of Tabinator Pro on the way!

We’ve been busy in The Labs on some new improvements, and we’re excited to announce that the most requested feature is here!  Now you’ll have the ability to add Unlimited Filter and URL tabs to the Dashboard so you can truly customize all the tabs to see just what you’d like to see and nothing else!

Also a few other tweaks and surprises in the beta version… with more on the way very soon!

How Do I Get the New Version?

We’re starting the beta testing with existing Tabinator Pro owners who’ve already shown interest in this highly requested feature — if you’re interested to join them, send us a tweet that says ” @activlabs I want to try the new beta of Tabinator Pro for activeCollab” and we’ll add you to the beta group! (Remember you need an active Tabinator Pro license to join the beta but there is still time — you can Buy Now and then tweet to join the beta). Can’t wait? Retweet Now

What’s New — Tabinator updates are not all that’s new!… We have some exciting news about  new modules on the way… Follow us on twitter for more info, or stay tuned here.

Happy Holidays and a Productive New Year!  From all of us at ActiveLabs :)


P.S. — If you’ve already been thinking about your New Year’s Resolutions and one of those is to get your workflow running smoother — kill two birds with one stone!  We’re offering Tabinator Pro as a Free Bonus for anyone booking a Rock Your Workflow session in January!  Available times are limited so Order Now if you want to rock 2011 with a productive start!

Private Milestones for activeCollab

Check out our latest module for activeCollab, which introduces the new feature Private Milestones – you’ll find some great unexpected uses for this new feature here!

First Look at Tabinator

Check out the new Tabinator Pro module for activeCollab, this screencast shows the Tabinator in action — If you like what you see, we’ve got a Special Bonus offer just for you get a FREE 1 HR Rock Your Workflow Call with our ActiveLabs team when you Buy Tabinator Pro for a Very Limited Time Sorry promotion has ended but you can check out our current promotions