Here are 5 of the tools that I use on a regular basis as a Digital Project Manager. You get a long way with the three E’s, the three fundamental tools: Evernote, Email and Excel, but I need more tools to help me and the team keep a high pace. Here are some of the tools that I can really recommend and that really bring some extra value.
Slack – Team Chat
One of the first tool I try to get in place with a new team is a good team chat. It minimizes email, it lowers the threshold for asking for help or give small project updates. It is also much less interruptive than most other communication forms and it helps when I or others are not located together with the team.
I have worked in teams that have used Skype and HipChat, and that has worked good, but Slack is my favorite by far. Good apps for mobile and easy to paste screenshots etc. We use different channels with different topics (including #1337, #random #retro, #demo and #feedback) and also use channels for the build server. If a test fails, we get notified via Slack. There is also a channel for all Git commits so that the commit log is easily accessible. A few times when the client have asked, how is the progress on “issue X”, I have seen it been committed just minutes before, and can tell the client: ”It’s being built by the build server now and should be automatically deployed to test in a few minutes”… The best thing about that is that I did not need to interrupt a team member to get that information.
Git – Source control
As a PM I an quite often the first to get feedback on developed features. And often the feedback is very detailed and is around wording, labels, or small small things that takes 30 seconds to fix. The issue is that it takes much more than 30 seconds to assign this to another person and to explain it. So I have often done these minor changes myself in the source control system and committed them to Git. I most often use Terminal to commit, but there is also quite a few good visual tools such as SourceTree. Again, the upside here is that I do not need to interrupt the team.
Dropbox – File sharing
Dropbox is one of the tools that the team often chose themselves to share files in the project. A problem is that each team member needs a premium account and a big hard drive if the file area gets big, so in the current project we actually have 2 different areas, one with design (big files) and one with the rest to save some space. But the feature I like the most is that files are version controlled. Just go in to the web version to retrieve old files. This have saved me more than once….
Reflector – Mobile screen sharing
Reflector is a tool where you can share your iPhones screen on your Mac via Airplay. I have used this for presentations and it is a great way to do demos. The only catch is that the network you are on needs to allow Airplay (not port 80) and some companies do not allow that. So make sure you have a plan B. (My plan B is to have a second phone that I share WiFi through and connect my Mac and iPhone through that…)
Join.me – Screen sharing
Join.me has often been my plan B, but it’s actually becoming my plan A for screen sharing. Companies often have preferred video conferencing and screen sharing tools, but when they fail (which is a lot), I usually go to join.me, start a meeting, send a link, and the problem is fixed within minutes. It have worked for me all times but one, so the stats are pretty good I would say.
This was 5 of my favorite tools, I use many more, they may be subject for a future blogpost. What are your DPM weapons of choice?