Tools we use to improve project management and team collaboration
These are the tools we use every day at Bixlabs. They help us keep our remote team organized and highly productive when working on demanding software development projects.
When working on challenging projects like the development of an app, it is usually quite hard to maintain all the tasks organized and ensure smooth collaboration, especially if you’re working with a remote team.
Luckily, most of these difficulties can be overcome by using the right tools and applying the best practices. At Bixlabs, we combine a set of helpful services that allow us to manage high-risk software development projects while maintaining a highly productive process and fluent communication with both our clients and our team.
This article takes you through the six tools we use for project management and team collaboration, including the main features of each application and how we apply them in our everyday work.
Six tools we use to manage projects and keep our team productive
The first tool we want to highlight is probably the most used in our daily work. We’re talking about G Suite. G Suite is a set of apps developed by Google specially designed to tackle a significant number of daily business tasks.
G Suite includes a wide variety of tools we employ to enhance our work processes, interact with our clients, and boost our team collaboration. The best part? It is super easy to pick it up and start using it.
How we use it:
– Gmail: Gmail is our go-to company email solution. It’s one of the main channels we use to communicate with our clients and team and carrying digital marketing campaigns.
– Calendar: to schedule meetings and allow each person in the team to be synched with everyone else’s agenda. We also use it to program regular calls with our clients and setting reminders for important deadlines.
– Docs & Sheets: to create, review, and edit content for our blog, web, and communication channels. G Suite makes it easy to collaborate and get instant feedback from other team members.
– Drive: to securely store our files and data and share it in real-time with every person in our team.
– Hangouts / Meet: for our daily and weekly calls with both our clients and team. The fact that Hangouts is integrated with Calendar makes scheduling meetings much simpler.
– Google Analytics: to get reliable data and keep track of our marketing campaigns and web traffic.
Building functional, user-centered digital products requires a lot of neatly planned, organized work. We wouldn’t be able to pull off projects like these without a project management tool like Asana.
Asana is a flexible project management application with a strong focus on collaboration. It includes Kanban boards to prioritize tasks and easily customizable workflow processes.
Asana stands out not because of its robust features, but because of its overall simplicity. It’s fast, intuitive, and easy to use.
How we use it:
– Internal Management: Overall, Asana helps us improve our internal organization and communication between teams. We use it every day to keep track of all the critical decisions made in a project, manage resources and internal initiatives, and even plan our team’s vacations.
– Project Management: Asana allows us to track a task’s progress and all the conversations related to it. It also lets us include critical information such as: when the task was created, to whom it was assigned, and when is the due date.
– Prioritizing tasks: with Asana, tasks can be easily organized by moving their positions on a list. This feature helps us adapt to continually changing projects.
– Work tracking: it also lets us easily visualize the work process within a project and reorganize the workload distribution if needed.
Keeping fluent and constant communication is vital for our projects’ success, especially considering we’re mainly a remote team. That’s why we believe Slack is one of the best online tools for this purpose.
Slack allows us to create separate channels for different projects and manage the number and type of participants. It is also great for making company-wide announcements and organizing conversations by topics.
Most importantly, Slack gives us something other chat apps don’t: the feeling of actually being in a real office.
How we use it:
– Sharing files and assets: in addition to using it as a group chat, we use Slack to share data and resources, from text documents to code snippets.
– Project updates: Slack is a great tool to make announcements to all the members within a project or gather team feedback on a particular issue.
– Organizing conversations: every department in our agency has its own Slack channel. This way, we make sure each person in our team is up to date with the critical information regarding their area.
–Having fun: a big part of staying productive involves building a good team spirit. Slack helps us keep everyone in contact with each other, sharing their points of view, ideas, and feelings, and also having casual talks like it was a real office environment.
At our core, we’re a software development agency following agile methodologies. That’s why to ensure our work processes develop smoothly we need a project management tool like JIRA.
JIRA helps us define, assign, and set work priorities for all our web and mobile development projects. It’s a critical tool that guarantees every step of the project, from idea to launch, is covered.
JIRA has a simple, intuitive interface that enables effective collaboration between teams. It’s a highly customizable tool, and it perfectly adapts to any type of project. Issue types, fields, states, and workflows can be changed to suit any project requirements. JIRA also includes several add-ons, including Scrum and Kanban support, making things easier for Agile teams like ours.
How we use it:
– Planning: JIRA is a great tool for understanding the size of a project, measuring and keeping track of the story points, defining the number of sprints, calculating the velocity of a sprint, and determining the different product releases.
– Reporting & Control: JIRA also allows us to track and analyze the progress of our work. By using the Velocity Chart feature, we can understand the value delivered in each sprint and predict the amount of work the team can commit to in future sprints.
– Backlog grooming: thanks to JIRA, our Project Managers are, at all times, aware of the backlog tasks for any given sprint and are able to design strategies to tackle those tasks.
– Scrum boards: as an Agile team, we work following an iterative product development process. JIRA’s Scrum Board feature is a simple way to follow the progress of each project.
– Projection: we also use JIRA to project future sprints. Thanks to JIRA’s Burndown Charts and Version Reports, we can track the total work remaining, and project the likelihood of achieving the sprint goal.
Another indispensable tool for us in software development is GitHub. GitHub is a collaborative platform to host, write, and review code. It allows us to host development projects in various programming languages, to keep track of the changes made to every iteration, and to manage versions releases and distribution.
How we use it:
– Repository: we use GitHub as our project’s repository, containing all the project’s files and revisions history. The ability to share the ownership on a repository makes our work as a development team much more manageable.
– Documentation: good documentation is key to any project’s success. GitHub allows developers to easily create documentation for any project they are working on and making it accessible to anyone inside or outside the team.
– Sharing code & integrations: GitHub is one of the biggest communities of developers out there. As an active part of it, we are regularly posting and sharing code and repositories with other developers, and using open-source integrations developed by others for our projects.
– Code reviewing & Version tracking: every software development project we face at Bixlabs involves multiple people’s collaboration. For large, complex projects, it’s hard to track revisions—who changed what, when, and where the files are stored. GitHub addresses this problem by keeping track of all the changes that are pushed to the repository.
Since you can’t ever have enough project management tools, we also use and strongly recommend Notion. At the core, Notion is an online workspace that allows you to plan, collaborate, and organize projects. It includes many great features from different tools and seamlessly converges them into a single app.
Notion is excellent for writing documents, set project tasks, and creating databases. You can use it to write down a bullet point of ideas or to build an entire wiki.
How we use it:
– Wiki: Notion allows us to easily create content, including text, embeds, images, and lists. Objects can be easily dragged and dropped and arranged as needed. Since Notion has a strong focus on collaboration, our team can join forces to write and share valuable information and knowledge.
– Task management: although we already use other project management tools, we also use Notion to track, plan, and assign tasks. Its clean design makes it super easy and practical to use.
– Notes and Docs: we also use Notion to create notes and docs that include videos, code, and images. We use these contents for various purposes: internal documentation, brainstorming and writing drafts for our blog posts.
Building user-centered, scalable digital products require planning, organizing, and executing a significant number of tasks, while also maintaining a strong collaboration and open communication with the team. All the tools and services we mentioned in this article help us to achieve exactly that.
We have put the effort and time to learn and master each tool and technology to make the most out of them in every project we face. We also assume the costs and maintenance of each application, so our clients don’t have to worry about anything and can focus on their business.
For both our Design and Development processes, we also use a custom set of apps and services. We will be talking in detail about those tools in other articles.
If you are looking for an experienced team to build your app from scratch or take your product to the next level, give us a call.