IT Project Management for an Indie Studio

IT Project Management Indie Studio PM tools post infographic

Evolution of Project Management Tools

A decade ago Google Docs, Slides and Sheets were one of the best solutions to manage work processes in a team. Fortunately, we are living in a fast-paced world, and software development doesn’t keep still, evolving quicker than we can imagine.

Today there is a multitude of project management tools with a broad range of in-built features and functions.
However, we adhere to the idea that the best solution is somewhere in between simplicity and over-complexity.

Evolution of PM tools

Top Dogs of Task and Project Management tools

Google Drive image download failed

Recently, our team faced the challenge to choose a project management tool to organize our work processes more effectively.

We used to conduct our workflow in Google universe, using Google Docs, Sheets and Shared Drives.
Somehow we realized that old mediums stopped meeting our needs due to minor bugs, overstacking of similar docs and tables, and the lack of interconnection of the doc packs.

However, the document-oriented structure remains of great importance to us.

In a variety of choices, we looked thought dozens of PM tools and task trackers from the most popular ones, like Asana and ClickUp and less spread like Quire.io and Proggio.

Smartsheet, Zoho, Teamweek, LiquidPlanner, Taskade, 10,000FT Plans, Wrike, Mavenlink, Teamdeck, Hive, Teamgantt, Teamwork, Harvest – it is just a small part of that list.

It took us several days to try all of them and some more, and a couple of hours to clean up our email from all possible notifications and digest letters from project and task management services.

Weekly / Monthly Planners

One of the subgroups of management services comprises weekly and monthly planners.
Teamweek seemed to be one of the most efficient due to its super-user-friendly interface, quite simple task allocation and inbuilt timeline that visualize all your activities over time.

Weekly Monthly Planners Teamweek

Sheet-based apps and software

Another subgroup of management tools encompasses sheet-based apps and services. The most popular among them are Monday.com, Airtable and Smartsheet.

A Table is a predefined interface. So, if you can organize all tasks in the form of a sheet, these apps would be a perfect solution for you.

However, our pipeline involves using, sharing and referring to a great amount of visual and textual elements, so the performance of sheet-based apps seemed to be a bit limited for our work processes.

monday com screen

Fully-featured / Agile Project Management tools

Fully featured PM tools

A great bulk of services for task tracking and project managing is based on a so-to-say classic approach, namely fully-featured PM tools, configured to support agile and hybrid methodologies. Among these tools, offering all-in-one functionality we tested Asana, Clickup, Mavenlink, Jira.

Despite a broad range of features and issued covered with the help of this software we dwelt on none of them.

Actually, our workflow doesn’t require using all those features. Moreover, a strictly pre-defined interface and design establish a specific methodology of organizing workflow, which can hardly be adapted or modified.

Time trackers PM tools

Time Tracker apps

The purpose of time trackers gets obvious from the name. We tested several of them, including Toggle and Harvest, and came to the conclusion that strict time tracking is not the best option for our cooperation. In order to balance our work and organize project timeline we usually have daily and weekly plans and allocate tasks accordingly.

Final Contestants

Two PM tools – Coda and Notion – reached the final battle.
Both of them are document-oriented, something like Google Docs on steroids. It is exactly what we strive for.

The most we liked about these apps is the freedom to organize your workspace as you want, combining Tables, Docs, Charts, To-do lists, images and anything you want/need in one place.

You can customize and modify the layout in whatever manner, adding special greetings for colleagues, a countdown to a special corporate event in a calendar, a poll for fellow-workers, etc.

Wrap-up

All in all, it was valuable experience to learn about and to test all those PM tools. Some of them brought great insights, which we implemented in our daily routine and workflow.

Having analyzed the options, we finally stopped at Coda due to its good-looking design, clear and intuitive interface, complete freedom of customization and a big amount of ready-to-use templates.

Update! Recently, Coda Team announced about launching Coda 2.0 with free and several paid subscription plans.