In our line of work, effective project management is absolutely essential. At any given time we have 15-20 projects going on, all with dozens (if not hundreds) of individual tasks involved.
We’ve tried countless project management applications, trying to find one that can meet the demanding criteria of a team like ours, which include:
- Efficiency: We have to be able to create, modify, reschedule, and reassign tasks almost instantly. Sadly, most software systems bury this under a series of clicks, checks, dropdowns, submits, and drags-and-drops until it takes so long to log a task that you don’t even want to do it.
- Passive awareness: In order to keep everyone generally aware of what’s going on with the team as a whole, we need to visualize our daily workload, and see our progress over the course of each day. Most systems specialize in hiding that kind of information, creating an environment where you’re only aware of your own responsibilities (unless you go look something up).
- Accountability: Because we review the previous day’s work every morning, we need a system that easily allows us to view what was accomplished recently. Many project management applications bury completed, or at least make them difficult to review for team discussion.
- Simplicity: We already have too many windows open. We don’t need more windows.
- Flexibility: If we decide we need a new list, or a new kind of list, or a new board altogether, we shouldn’t have to go through the chore of reassigning tasks one at a time. We should be able to do that on the fly without much hassle.
- Weight: If you’re assigned a task in an online project management system, it’s easy to forget about it or ignore it. All you have to do is not look at that to-do list! We want a system where your commitments have weight, and nag until you finish them.
Those are just a few of the things we were looking for in a system that met our peculiar needs.
Fortunately, we found a system that works beautifully for us, and has served admirably for more than two years now: Post-it notes.
We currently have five whiteboards with dozens of Post-it notes on each, constantly churning over the course of the week. Our entire company runs on Post-it notes. We have it down to a science. In fact, we’ve even named our process Hinge since it’s flexible, helps us keep everything in tact, and allows us to pivot at a moment’s notice.
No matter how large the project, how tight the deadline, or how critical the task, the noble Post-it notes have enabled us to manage projects in a way that makes “dropping the ball” almost inconceivable. Everything gets done, all the time, forever.
And best of all…it’s fun.
We’ll write up more the details about our system in coming weeks and months, but in the meantime, you should consider giving up the quest to find the perfect project management software, and just grab a Post-it pad and a Sharpie. You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish.