As with any business, making sure that a project is run properly is really important to make sure the company runs efficiently, and to make sure all the members of the working team know what they are to do and when. When you are dealing with a complex web development or a big SEO contract there are many tasks that need to be done, by different people, and at different times. You also need to make sure the actions and processes are recorded for the benefit of being able to look back. I used to manage all the projects with a paper trail, lots of emails, whiteboards everywhere and lots of lists.
We have looked around for a while to find a good project management tool, and tested a few over the years. None really seemed to fit our needs totally and with any new piece of software, especially one that is there to organise people, its often difficult to get people used to using the new tool and to accept change. The commonly used project management tool is Basecamp that you may be familiar with. The one major downsite to Basecamp for us was that it couldn’t be hosted in house, and we like to keep information as close to home as possible especially if we are recording work carried out on clients.
We have though found a project management package that seems to have integrated well into the company and allows that extra level of organisation and tracking that a paper system can’t quite do. Its called Active Collab and is branded as the open source version of Basecamp with a very important feature that you can install it on your own server. It does so many things that I won’t list them all but some key features are the ability to set up unlimited numbers of projects, assign members to the projects, set tasks, set milestones, add pages, add tickets, upload documents to the project, have discussions within the project and set numerous access levels for management, staff and clients. Active Collab also has an interface for mobile phone users too. You can see more features on the main Active Collab site.
Oh and one other addition that has helped implement and set up the new Project Management software is our new SEO Client Coordinator, David Whitehouse, who is helping me organise everything. So not only do you need a good piece of software you must also find the time or the resource to run the project through the software in a systematic way.