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Q&A: Finding the Right Project Management Tools

Q&A: Finding the Right Project Management Tools

Insight caught up with Sallyann Koontz to get the scoop on what systems work well in the Johns Hopkins Medicine environment.

On an average day, the Johns Hopkins Medicine Internet strategy team has a portfolio of 120 projects being guided between concept and completion. To keep the process streamlined and orderly, project manager Sallyann Koontz relies on several project management and collaboration tools. Insight caught up with her to get the scoop on what systems work well in the Johns Hopkins Medicine environment.

What’s the difference between project management and collaboration tools?

Project management tools allow teams to move a many-faceted project through multiple stages. A collaboration tool allows individuals to exchange ideas, but it doesn’t assist with organizing, scheduling or keeping track of steps and stages.

What are the three primary attributes you look for in a project management tools?

  • Ease of use – It should be intuitive, with functionality similar to other tools—email or Word, for example.
  • Accessibility – Can you access the tool anywhere, on any device?
  • Features – It should allow for scheduling, timelines, communication, file uploading and sharing.

What project management tools meet your criteria?

Basecamp allows multiple groups or cross-functional teams to seamlessly interact across stages and deliverables. It can be used for large and small projects, and it exists in a secure environment that is encrypted and backed up daily. Near and dear to any project manager’s heart are timelines, and Basecamp is excellent at those.

Trello is best for small, focused teams. Providing an at-a-glance view for detailed projects, Trello is more nimble than Basecamp. However, its calendar and file storage functions are not as sophisticated as those in Basecamp.

Let’s go back to the collaboration tools. What are some examples?

Google Docs is great. However, there are security concerns with Google Docs, which is part of the reason Johns Hopkins discourages its use. And honestly, it’s also really slow.

JHBox is recommended by the institution. This platform offers cloud-based file sharing in a secure environment, with real-time collaborations.

Chatter is a collaboration tool that the Marketing and Communications Department will soon pilot. This tool from Salesforce gives users from different project groups, teams and events the ability to share messages, files and videos. I would call it Basecamp lite. 

Any other recommendations?

For personal productivity, I like Evernote. It lets you take and save notes anywhere, any time, on any device. Love that!

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