General by Leon Hitchens on April 01, 2016
Managing anything in the age of the internet is a nightmare. Employees are distributed, not every tool integrates, and communication can and is always a nightmare. There are some amazing tools online to help manage an unruly project, but they can be expensive and in themselves hard to manage. At Ninjality, we use some free project management tools including Trello and Slack. In addition to those services, we use Google Docs and GitHub to further the project and allow for easy collaboration.
We all know how hard managing a distributed team is, trust us we’re thousands of miles apart and all work at different times of the day. We’ve put our heads together to make a list of tools, services, and tips for how to be a project management ninja.
I use Trello for everything from organizing Ninjality projects to keeping a grocery list with the family. Trello is capable of being a simple note taking an app or an advance projection app with due dates, assignments to specific people, multiple boards and much more. We use different boards to separate projects. One board, for example, list all of our article ideas with due dates on each card and different people writers assigned. Other boards include client projects, CodeBee, and another general board.
It’s powerful tool that lets you break down each project with its own board, and then have certain people assigned to different sub cards. There can be attachments, checklist, images, labels, and so much more. If you truly want to stay organized Trello is a free tool that offers such flexibility.
Slack. Use it! Honestly, Slack is slowly but surely killing email and other messaging clients. Slack allows for messaging between small to large teams, allowing for real-time communication between anyone on your team. The service integrates into hundreds of services like Trello, Github, Google Drive, Bitbucket, and other developer and office management teams.
Slack also offers voice chat, file uploads, and fun integrations with giphy which make any conversation a little more fun.
Between the roadmaps for projects, Trello boards, and Slack messages it’s still hard to stay on the same page. The biggest roadblock we’ve run into is everyone works at different times, which can cause some headaches. We’ve taken to carving out bonding time where we play video games online or just voice chat to talk out future projects or current ones. Sending emails or slack messages will let everyone talk, but the problem is sometimes it hard to keep up if multiple people are all typing at the same time.
We’ve found the weekly gaming or talk sessions bring us closer together. Let us freely talk about what other projects we’re working on and what else we’ve been doing in our busy lives. We also get to unwind while we’re all getting to bond and talk shop.
The biggest problem you’ll encounter is change. As much as you plan or try to keep everything on the rails, something will throw a wrench into your plans or make you change plans. Employees won’t make deadlines or code will break, adding weeks to the project’s timeline.
Change is a great thing in the end. It will give you headaches and because everyone pain, but in the end, it’s pushing you towards the ultimate goal of pushing out new code, or finishing an article or getting your startup funded.
Using these tools and taking these tips you’ll become a project management ninja. We’ve used these tips and tools for well over a year, and we’ve accomplished a lot. We’ve tried dozens of other tools to manage our communication and todo list, but we’ve also returned to Slack or Trello to try and wrangle together our projects.