A project management app is an essential tool for any dispersed team. Here are some suggestions to get you started.
The next application in your essential distributed team toolbox is a project management app. At it’s most basic, a project management app is a shared TODO list: it enables a group of people to divvy up a list of tasks between them.
If your team is small, just two or three people, you may wonder if you need a project management app at all. The answer is yes. While it can be possible to get things done in a collocated team using informal task assignments and periodic check-ins, even the smallest dispersed team needs a “trusted system” to manage what has been done, what needs to be done, and who is doing it. Without such a system your team the results are usually duplicated effort, unnecessary delays, and misunderstandings.
For teams with relatively simple projects, where only a handful of TODO items are on the list at a given time, it may be sufficient to use a basic task list tool to manage your projects. If you are already using Basecamp to capture your communications, you can use Basecamp To-Dos and milestones as your project management solution.
If your projects are more complex – for instance, if you are writing software – Basecamp will probably be insufficient for your needs. There are a bewildering number of tools available to help you manage software projects in an agile fashion. I recommend using Pivotal Tracker when you are getting started, and only moving on to another tool if Tracker fails to meet your needs.
Why Tracker instead of other tools? Here are three reasons:
- It’s free.
- Tracker is recommended by the majority of dispersed software teams I have spoken with.
- Unlike most tools, Tracker displays other user’s changes to the project as they happen. This makes it particularly well-suited to remote collaboration, because you can see when someone else is editing the project.
A project management app is a staple of wide team collaboration. What is your experience – what project management tools have you used, and what do you look for in such an application?