A Project Management System that Makes Everybody Happy

I was once quoted as the person who “puts the head back on the chicken.” And truthfully, that’s still pretty much the case. It may sound like that means there is always chaos (a headless chicken) and I’m always fixing what’s broken (said head of chicken), but really, it’s just a normal day in the life of a project manager to dub chickens with heads so that everything remains on track.

Metaphors aside, if you’ve ever been in a project management role, then you know what I’m talking about — how can we get all these parts and pieces (and people!) moving in the right direction? Will the client be satisfied? Will they notice how stressed out we are? Did I eat lunch today? I’m late for that team meeting…it’s hard to get it all organized and lead a team with so much going on.

That’s why we have an abundance of tools, platforms, software, and gadgets to help us out a little. But is there one perfect tool that gets it all done? I feel like somewhere in agency “Oz” there’s probably a unicorn that’s strapped with this tool, but I’m not headed there anytime soon. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Here at Reusser Design, we’ve recently moved to Basecamp 3 to keep our projects aligned, and I have to say, I’m already excited for what the future holds with this tool. I’m able to tackle different aspects of projects all in one place now, as opposed to the many different platforms we’ve been using. Example? In Basecamp 3, internal message tools are replaced by Campfires, email is replaced by Message Board, and direct messages are replaced by Ping. Calendars, to-dos, check-ins, and files (even integration with other platforms) are all here, too. Did I mention I can also integrate with my timesheet?! This is great for the internal sharing our team needs to stay up to speed, but it’s also great for clients, too — after all, my goal is making sure clients aren’t burdened by our systems and can easily communicate with us to keep their projects moving forward. Basecamp 3 certainly fits the bill in this regard.

Of course, nothing is perfect (you knew that was coming, right?). Since this next part isn’t exactly rocket-science, I’ll quote Strongbad here when I say, “Everyone is different. No two people are the same.” Which means, there will always be a need from a team member that’s not being fulfilled through our system. For example, one of our developers really, like really, wants to have sub-tasks under to-do items. Unfortunately, it’s not a feature on Basecamp 3. Does that mean I’ve failed to find the perfect tool? Not really. It’s a moving target in a world of work-arounds, so I’ll either find a way to do it, or make the best out of it and help my co-workers in a different way to help satisfy this need.

In sum, we’ll probably never find the perfect tool, but what we can do is understand that everyone is different — in their work styles, ways of thinking, in approaching issues, or in organizing tasks and getting things done — and that’s what makes a great agency and a fun culture. That said, I can’t get distracted by using different tools for every need, pulling our team in different directions and diluting efficiency. Instead, I need to lead a team that will be educated about our process, embrace what we have at our disposal, and have enough time to excel in their areas and grow. If we, as project managers, can do that, we’ll have fewer headless chickens.

Originally published at www.reusserdesign.com.

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