Ah wonders of managing a project with many important pieces with a lot of people who all work a bit differently and have free will. Not to mention the mess it makes on your whiteboard that is finally organized and isn’t a mess of sticky notes that no one can read.
For as long as humans have tried to get things done with more than one person there has been project management tools and practices. Unfortunately, thanks to a number of compounding issues we will never know what or if they used any particular processes. The pyramids of Giza, great wall of China. We may never know what amazing technology they utilized to breathtaking effect. What we do know is that they had almost no time frame, as much money as the emperors who commissioned them had, and unlimited, unpaid slave workers to do it for them. Perhaps it’s not so bad that we don’t use their methods anymore.
So lets say you have a team of 2 – a large number of people; and you’d like to get something done. If you’ve done any googling about project management then you’ve probably come across a few things that might sound familiar. There are different ways to handle projects, and a lot of different software and tools for doing it online. Among the more popular methodologies these days are Kanban, Agile and Scrum in software dev. Waterfall and Critical Path Method lend themselves to more physical endeavors like making a real thing. Then there’s the classic methodology of ‘just get things done’ which is quite popular.
If the project isn’t too complicated, say organize a trip to the local zoo for your kid and his friends then the waterfall method will do you just fine. It essentially works by sequencing everything that needs to be done one after each other. A simple checklist will do wonders.
If the project is much larger and you find yourself in charge of several people who may or may not want to work, then you’ll need something with a lot more features. Lets say you want to make an app that records audio and lets you edit it and send it off anywhere. It’s going to be a complicated affair and might take years if you let things take a natural pace. In that case the Agile methodology (and its many faces) is the go to.
- Agile: The mother bear of management methodologies. Sets out four core values to follow.
- Scrum: is a simple but strong tool for small teams. The most popular of the agile frameworks. Focuses on quick iterative development cycles, and a lot of sticky notes.
- Kanban: Also features sticky notes, but is more focused on a project that needs a steady output of features / toasters. Use this if you know you’re going to be making a lot of the same thing over a period of time like beer or hot sauce.
Both KanBan and Scrum work with a concept called sprints. Essentially a block of time, either one or two weeks long where you schedule as many tasks as you think you can manage to finish. And another key feature is the ‘scrum board’ where you put all of the vague, confusing sticky notes.
“But what if we don’t have a shared workspace we can go too? How do we possibly manage our project on the internet?”You have a good point strawman, but I have a better solution.
If you google, online project management tools you might find this page
which you might look at and have no idea where to start. So I’m here to list the tools we at Spaghetti games have used and our experience with them. Maybe you’ll try one of them, cause the best part is their “largely” free.
1 Trello: A popular tool and quite rightly so. Free out the box with a lot of features for a simple scrum board. It’s a lot of moving rectangles from one list to another but they all are. We used this one for quite a while and it’s a useful tool, but it relies of people being honest about logging on and moving tasks. Good for small teams and projects.
2 Slack: A pretty cool piece of software all things considered. This is the tool for the team that isn’t tied to discord or skype for communication. But that’s what it is really, a communication tool, it won’t do fancy scrum boards with visualizations of how fast you’ve gotten things done. This is for larger teams that don’t all have Pictochat.
3 Clickup: What we’re currently using at Spaghetti Games. It can be a lot more complicated than trello and slack but it offers a lot of really useful tools and features for free. The really advanced tools are premium, but unless you’re a huge team and need gantt and burn down charts for optimization the free version has all you need. It’s highly customizable, with several levels for amazing hierarchy organizing. Best used by teams larger than 3 with need for accountability tools, or anyone who really likes to nitty gritty plan it all out.
If you can work together in person though, a nice whiteboard, sticky notes and trust is a very potent project management technology.
I hope you’ve found this to be useful in someway shape or form. Organizing large endeavors is always quite intimidating, but if you’re familiar with a good tool and methodology it becomes just about doing the next little thing on the list. If you want to ask me about any of this you can find me on Twitter @GameSpaghetti or @blaaaaanky, Instagram and Facebook too!