The Tools At Your Disposal
It’s essential to keep up with the newest technologies and innovations to stay ahead in Higher Ed IT. This includes project management tools. There are many resources and websites that enable easier collaboration between team members and help create a more organized project. Beyond project management tools, you might have questions about a multitude of project management topics. Luckily, there are plenty of webinars and educational resources for project management available online for free.
Organize Your Project
“There are many options for centralized platforms that allow teams to communicate and cooperate on assignments”
A successful project requires an organized environment for your team. We’ll start with tools that allow you to create an online project hub where everyone can easily stay connected and informed about the project’s progress. There are many options for centralized platforms that allow teams to communicate and cooperate on assignments, but they differ in price and in usefulness depending on your specific needs.
A Great Place To Start
Basecamp is one of the best websites around for organizing your projects. In fact, we at Optimal Partners use the website to keep our team on track. The website helps organize conversations and easily integrates with email; allowing users to customize the amount of notifications they receive and respond by email to those updates. Basecamp even works over multiple projects, making it a great base of operations for any project manager. Its pricing plans are flexible for however many projects you manage or how much storage space you need. Unlike many of its competitors, however, Basecamp does not offer a free service beyond its sixty-day trial period.
Alternative Project Tools
If Basecamp isn’t your style, there are a plethora of other similar services with more flexible payment models. Wrike stands out among the crowd by operating more like an exclusive social network for your team than a project application. For example, team members can be connected to messages or tasks by adding an “@” symbol before their name in a task description or discussion thread, which is a feature clearly adopted from Twitter. It also allows for tasks to be assigned to multiple users, creating a more collaborative environment for your team. Wrike doesn’t shy away from email integration, either, ensuring that users are connected to their teams even when they’re not using the service itself. Beyond its social features, Wrike provides a majority of the assets you’d expect from a premium project service, with limited access available for free.
“Services are often split into two categories: websites that offer a wide array of features and those that are more easy to use, but lack the depth that some projects may require.”
There are a lot of “freemium” alternatives to products like Basecamp, as well. These services are often split into two categories: websites that offer a wide array of features and those that are more easy to use, but lack the depth that some projects may require. Asana and Trello stand at opposite ends of that spectrum, with plenty of other management tools fitting somewhere in-between.
Asana offers a majority of the features that you would expect from a similar product, with the addition of a free plan for smaller teams or for users that want to try the service before purchasing a more robust subscription. While Basecamp prides itself on integrating easily with email, Asana takes the opposite approach and attempts to replace email as your team’s primary form of communication. Asana also helps keep tabs on tasks and helps track team member’s time. If you’re looking for a service to cover your more complex project management needs with a flexible payment model, Asana is worth looking into.
Trello offers a straightforward approach to project management that’s easy to use and understand. It relies on a visual approach to organization, displaying individual tasks as “cards” on the project’s “board”. Writing on each card helps describe the task and establishes which parts of a task take priority over others. The site’s presentation is its best feature, leaving very little room for confusion, especially considering the timeline bar that tracks changes to the project on the right side of the screen. Trello’s simplistic approach comes at a cost, however, as the site lacks some of the more advanced features of sites like Basecamp, Wrike, or Asana. Thankfully, the services that Trello provides are free, with an optional paid plan for those looking for access to more storage space.
Day-to-Day Management Advice
While there are a lot of great online services to help organize your project, there are also plenty of free resources to help with the everyday problems that managers encounter. If you’re searching for a more specific question about your project, ProjectManager.com might have a video for you. Their collection of videos cover a wide array of topics, which range from team building tips to a tutorial on optimal task scheduling. Although they aren’t explicitly about working in Higher Ed IT, the site does a great job in discussing the smaller issues that might get obscured by the plethora of more general project management advice online.
Although Project Insight’s goal is to sell management software, they also offer a huge collection of free information on IT and Project Management that will help in you develop your project. Their live webinars cover how to better manage your projects and how to solve specific problems in IT, such as how to balance task priorities or how to design efficient software testing plans. Also, if you happen to miss one of their live presentations, they’re all conveniently archived to view at your leisure.
An example of some great information relevant to Higher Ed projects within Project Insight, is an article for Team Dynamix, in which James Sibenaller & Ray Pauliks wrote about how they molded their experience in project management to better suit the world of Higher Ed IT at Loyola University, Chicago. They stress the importance of being flexible with your project, as universities are constantly evolving and adapting to new technologies. An iterative approach should be embraced, as it will not only help your project in the long run, but will also make it easier to keep up with the rapidly changing needs of your clientele.
Utilizing Internet Resources
There are a lot of easily accessible resources on the internet to help you manage your project, from project tracking sites to online webinars, but it’s up to you to decide what works best for your team. Not every piece of advice or project application is worth adopting, but establishing a solid foundation of useful tools can help even the most difficult project run more smoothly. If you’re searching for more project management websites or applications, be sure to look at our collection of Free Project Resources for all of your Higher Ed project needs.
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