Obviously, being one of the founders of Fellowstream, I have a biased opinion of how you should use tools to facilitate good communication on a small team.  Bare in mind, though, that Fellowstream is a labor of love born out of frustration managing several small video game teams throughout my career.

An online tool, like Fellowstream, is only as effective as you need it.  We made Fellowstream because it was hard to get task-focused information from your team members over the course of a day without bothering them.  When you did bother them, it made your teammates less effective at getting work done (because that’s the definition of a disruption).  We strongly believe Fellowstream allows your teammates to manage their work at their own pace, but giving you a nice glimpse of what’s happening as they move forward.

If you don’t have this problem, you don’t need Fellowstream.  Which leads me to rule #1: Don’t use a tool that doesn’t solve a problem you already have.  I’m of the mind that you shouldn’t fix something until it’s broken, and let’s be honest, when you’re working on a small team and there’s a communication problem, you know when it’s broken.

The other thing about using a tool is that it should take very little of your time.  If you need to put a task on your to-do list saying you need to make tasks, that’s a waste of time.  That’s why Fellowstream is designed to log in and out in a flash, the way you might log into Facebook for a few minutes, write a status update, and leave.

Once you spend more than 10 minute stretches using your tool, you’re probably breaking rule #2: Your tool should make you more efficient at doing work, not more efficient at wasting time with the tool.

What’s your rules when you’re trying out a new online tool?

-Deborah Fike

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