Service software can provide a grip on hard projects

Expats can regain control over their personal and business matters in Costa Rica today by employing new, easy-to-use tools.  Many of them are free.

Sometimes getting things done is hard here.  Simple things can turn into frustrations and harder ones can turn into nightmares.  When contracting professional assistance, in some cases, it seems the contractor is working without a plan.  This-seat-of-the-pants management style can cause expats headaches and outright grief.

The worst part about this scenario is Costa Ricans are generally nice people and do not like to bestow bad news, even if it is important. Not addressing derailment possibilities early cause even the best plans to fall off track.  The result of this equation, little (or no) planning, plus avoiding confrontation sends some important matters and projects into spiraling disasters.

Confrontation and discourse is not always bad.  Much of the time, it is an important element to brainstorming out ideas, thus finding solutions to problems.  That is the trouble in Costa Rica sometimes.  Ticos tend to avoid the bad news and skirt around it, when it would be better to confront it and find answers.

Too many foreigners come to Costa Rica with a chesty and critical attitude.  Some of them jump into projects with no clue as to the rules of the game in this country or the dynamics of getting things done here.  There may be a better plan.  It involves collaborating on projects not just delegating them to others.

There are many simple tools on the Internet to collaborate with others, including professionals.  Many of them are completely free for small projects.  They range from super simple to complex.  Many of these applications can run on any operating system or any device.  They assist one in thinking through a task or project with deadlines and milestones in an attempt to avoid surprises. Moreover, when there are unforeseen events, changes in directions are easier to manage.  Here are a couple of true-life examples:

Occasionally, a foreigner must come to Costa Rica because a family member passes away and leaves assets here that need tending.  This is the case with one man and his family.  They were not complete strangers to the country, but they never thought they were going to have to call it home.  When confronted with getting a permit for fixing up their new family home they found themselves a bit lost.  Then they found an online project management tool called Wrike.  This system allowed them to map out in timeline format the tasks and people needed to complete the building permit.

Sounds simple, right?  It was not what they expected.  After adding all the people and elements together, they found it was not possible to obtain the permit in the time they had allotted.  This fact was going to increase the cost of the project and involve more people.  They also discovered professionals they contracted inadvertently left out some important steps that changed the overall panorama of the job.  Wrike help them map out a roadmap acceptable to all.

Wrike works in many languages.  These expats were able to connect with their team using a social networking interface where they saw the system in English and their resources saw it in Spanish. Google integration allowed them to translate from one language to another.  These expats were collaborating with their Costa Rican contractors not just delegating to them.  By doing so, they have built a much more productive business relationship.

Another expat in the Quepos area is usingMavenlink for his projects.  Mavenlink allows him to communicate with the people he has hired easily and effectively.  All he needs to do in the morning over his coffee is to look at all the nicely organized input coming from his workers updates and offer his leadership.

Many expats in Costa Rica are older retired people.  They probably think these new tools are not for them.  They also probably believe these software applications are only for bigger projects.  This is not true.  Many software as a service (SaaS) products are very easy to use.  Almost everyone knows how to use Facebook.  Regardless, of one’s personal views about social networking, one thing is a fact; it is very easy to use.  Products based on a Facebook style interface are for everyone’s skill level, even for older, retired people.

There are so many options available today to assist people in planning and collaborating better.  By doing so, it is easier to get things done.  These systems are also conducive to building stronger personal and business relationships.

Wrike, Mavenlink, Podio, and Insightly, are only a few of many notable products for managing almost anything today.  All of these products offer some sort of free use for simple projects.  Trello is very basic project management system, but powerful, and complexly free.

Working in the cloud offers freedom.  Managing matters better reduces stress, focuses the future, and creates better relationships.  Costa Rica is becoming a more complex place to live.  Expats can fight back!  They can embrace a little technology by learning new ways to manage life and business.

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