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How I Work: Project Management Tools

May 5, 2015

Whenever I hang out with other business analysts and project managers, the conversation inevitably turns to the project management tools we are using. Feeling inspired by Lifehacker’s How I Work series, I thought that I would share some of my personal tools and workflows.

Location: Atlanta, GA
Current Gig: Project Manager at stable|kernel
One word that best describes how you work: Simple
Current mobile device: iPhone 5C
Current computer: 2015 Macbook 12”

Apps I use: I use Slack all day long. I can’t imagine that if you are reading this you need to be sold on the usefulness of Slack. It is a great one-stop-shop for chatting with the team (both external and internal), tracking files and searching for information when an idea feels familiar and you need to review its history. I’m sure you also know that Slack is also a great resource for co-workers to share important cat gifs.

Google Docs and Dropbox are great ways to collaborate on files that also integrate with Slack. Google Docs is great for spreadsheets and other documents that many may need to edit. Dropbox holds files that are more static or not compatible with Google Docs. The team also occasionally uses Dropbox Public Folders to share interactive documents.

The team and I currently use Pivotal Tracker to show the current status of design and development on projects. Since we don’t use XP, our usage contains a few hacks beyond the standard package. I use multiple Pivotal Tracker Projects for one (stable|kernel) project. I then use Workspaces to view all the information. As stories move from design to development they will move across Pivotal Tracker Projects but I will also use labels to share information with the team. While not an ideal workflow, other tools in Pivotal Tracker are invaluable. Being able to view our velocity and burndown charts at a glance make knowing project status easy. Pivotal Tracker also integrates with Slack so that changes made in Pivotal Tracker are posted in a channel.

I use Trello for tracking personal projects. I like the Personal Kanban style and in my personal life it ensures that I’m getting things done. We are planning to experiment with Trello in an upcoming stable|kernel project to see if it can replace Pivotal Tracker. Trello’s customizable workflow may fit better with our in-house project management methodology and it integrates into the tools we are already using.

The final tool I regularly use is OmniGraffle. Omnigraffle is a great tool to quickly illustrate workflows for software or human performance. Some of the keyboard shortcuts are counter-intuitive but once learned it is a great tool for drawing lines and boxes. If you think that is underselling the value of Omnigraffle, realize that I can’t draw a straight line with a ruler.

That is an overview of the project management tools that I’ve used at stable|kernel this week. I’m always on the market for the next productivity boosting app so feel free to share yours in the comments.

Published May 5, 2015

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