DC2009:Online Collaboration Tools

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Description

Project management in the internet era is a distributed and virtual art. In-person meetings are the exception, not the rule. This session will discuss how to most effectively use online tools to collaborate and manage projects, and participants will be invited to share their tool preferences and experiences.

Basecamp and Pivotal Tracker session with Kafi


Paper and pencil never fail you.

How do you get people to use Basecamp? How to motivate it?

BASECAMP BASICS

  • Basecamp is an online tool
  • A single place to keep projects, communication with clients/developers/designers all in one place
  • Primary reason to use it is for clients to be on there so that everyone can talk to each other.
  • You can keep username/passwords on Basecamp to give designers/developers access to sites.
  • Kafi uses messages the most – the primary reason why she uses it. If one person doesn’t respond immediately, someone else will.
  • You can respond by email and it will show up automatically onto Basecamp.
  • Even long strings are great because it means that people will communicate, which is half the battle.
  • You can make messages private.
  • You can attach files.
  • Kafi doesn’t really use milestones that much.
  • Encouraged to “check all” on who gets the email so the whole team is notified.
  • Developers like to use the “to-do” list
  • The monthly cost can be a roadblock to buy-in
  • Incorporate Basecamp into job descriptions for buy-in
  • Time tool gives a time stamp to parts of the project – but it’s for after to-do's are done rather than to plan how much time will be needed.
  • Chat feature is overridden by Skype
  • Files feature can be useful: client can approve and team can get them to do their work
  • Under projects setting you can request an html or xml export
  • Open atrium is Basecamp but open source and you host it yourself
  • Recurring projects that happen every year – you can clone some parts of it (copy a workspace) and make another one
  • Write-boards feature: capture meeting minutes, or for a collaborative document between parties. You can share it with a URL.
  • Milestones feature: It’s something date related. Kick-off meeting, initial meeting with client, requirements, design, approvals, edit time (it’s a schedule). You can do notifications with milestones
  • On the homepage you can see all the projects assigned to you, what’s due in the next two weeks for all of your projects.
  • Generation gap can be a real challenge – is it worth it to onboard people to Basecamp who are uncomfortable?
  • Basecamp is really useful for meetings because you can run through the status of the project
  • Strongly encourage the messages to be sent to everyone. If it has nothing to do with what you’re working on you can always delete it.
  • It’s helpful for clients to see the impact of not approving something or not getting documents to us in time
  • This is not extra work, this is your project at a glance
  • It keeps everyone honest about a project
  • Always at the beginning of a project, as soon as you know you have a project you set out Basecamp
  • Label annual or quarterly if it’s an ongoing project
  • Even for small projects Basecamp works because everything is right there, it doesn’t fall off your radar
  • Why is it so ugly? You can change the colors a little bit. Brand it through settings.
  • Weird little things: search, you can search across projects or within a specific project. There is no search box, it’s a tab you have to click on.
  • You can create a new “company” but it’s actually a program and then projects fall under it.
  • A company is a client if you’re a consultant.
  • There is a templates tab, create a title and a list description. You can still delete things from a template.
  • Make the super user the administrator and have at least a couple of them. If you have a back-up person, they can always go in and pick up an archived project and find lost info. Create three to be on the safe side in case they both leave at the same time.
  • You get notified if you’re assigned something through Basecamp so that you don’t have to log in to see assignments.


PIVOTAL TRACKER

  • It uses spaces. It’s for requirements so they’re written differently than for a waterfall project.
  • They call requirements stories. They all go into the icebox.
  • You assign points to different stories related to the level of effort it will take to complete it.
  • You can give it a label. If there’s a store on your website, you could have inventory tasks, etc.
  • Descriptions can be used for testing.
  • Comments box used for comments (duh?)
  • You can physically drag items from the icebox to current, which is projects we are working on.
  • Pivotal tracker would be hard to use for a non-technical project
  • You have to drag items one at a time.