The idea of project management can fill people with dread. Wikipedia define it as “the discipline of planning, organizing, motivating, and controlling resources to achieve specific goals” and most reasonably large projects will have someone on board whose task it is to ‘project manage the project’. Business speak aside project management is the art of ‘getting stuff done’, and not just any old stuff but ‘stuff that you are supposed to be getting done’. Most of us (unless we’ve given up the ghost and spend our days on the sofa watching day time telly!) have to get certain things done everyday, so whether we are actually project managers or not we still need to have project management skills.
Managing tasks, project and time in general can be a little different when you don’t physically go to work or have someone breathing down your neck all day…You need to be both organized and motivated.
The Open Knowledge Foundation use Trello for the day-to-day management of projects. Trello is a collaborative project management tool that is based around the idea of boards (like notice boards) and cards (like post-it notes on the board). You set up a board for a project and then split it up into areas. To do, doing, done – works for us, but you could go with ideas, pitch, approved, implemented or any other way you want to split up activities. People are invited to the board; you can have as many people on a board as you like and people can be assigned different roles. You then begin to create activities/tasks using cards and can add details to each card (dates, related papers, responsibility, comments etc.). Cards can also be moved around quite easily using drag and drop. If changes are made to the board in anyway people can be notified on the board and by email, and there is also an activity trail. Most of the main features are explained on the Trello tour. Trello reassure users that their data is held securely, details can be brought back if you accidentally delete them and that the service works on many different platforms (phones, tablets etc.). It’s also free – what’s not to like!
I’ve been using Trello on my project and have found it to be both intuitive and incredibly helpful. At the Open Knowledge Foundation we store most things in the cloud and use Google docs a serious amount. I find Trello is a great way to make sure I’m linking tasks to documents.
While I’m only using Trello on the project I’m working on other people at OKF use it in much more innovative ways. For example, there is a Trello board to co-ordinate volunteer activities around open spending.
My colleague Anders Pedersen explains how he has “brought on a volunteer blog editor, and the Trello board turned out to be a super useful way to show, that she as an editor has a place where she can manage fellow guest bloggers and where she can see that a lot of other volunteers are doing cool stuff….I am getting increasingly convinced that volunteer management with Trello has the potential, for helping volunteers own and scale their engagement (for those who are willing to do more than mailing list) and for helping “super volunteers” to manage and direct other volunteers who are willing to do more.”
Much of the Trello activity is in reaction to email overuse – the result is a much more manageable space.
Often individuals and organisations will suggest new project idea to the OKF. If the project relates to Open Data then we will aim to support those ideas and the OKF also has an Ideas Trello board.
You can request to be a member on the Board and start pitching ideas and suggesting activities.