Dennis D. McDonald ( consults from Alexandria Virginia. His services include writing & research, proposal development, and project management.

IN BETA Reviews Three Web Based Project Management Apps

By Dennis D. McDonald

Gina Trapani and Kevin Purdy’s IN BETA is one of my favorite podcasts. They talk about tech from a refreshingly personal and development-oriented viewpoint as opposed to politics or industry gossip.

In episode 72 they discuss three project management apps they are familiar with, Asana, Trello, and Basecamp. (I have used Basecamp but not the other two.)

Veteran project managers will be amused — and will recognize — Gina’s comments at the end about her “Giant Life-Defining Spreadsheet”:

One of the comments they make that I find most interesting is how they view email as a useful link in the types of project communication needed when managing a project.

There is no question in my mind that a collaborative approach to project management that emphasizes the sharing and re-use of information is highly useful. I have written about this many times based on my own experience. While I started out believing that email is an evil leftover of a bygone era I have since modified my view based on personal experience, for three reasons:

  1. Even when collaborative tools are adopted and used by project team members for sharing information there is still a need to dip in and dip out of email based on the frequent need for one to one communication via messages that need not be shared with the whole team. 
  2. Project team members often have to communicate with people outside the team who may not be using the same collaborative tool; email and other traditonal communication techniques fill the bill here.
  3. Large teams will sometimes contain influential members who resist using more collaborative tools who may prefer to keep using email despite the burden it places on others in terms of duplicative file and message management. 

One thing to add: make sure that if your system uses email to notify staff of different project events that they have the ability to control the volume and type of notifications so as not to be overwhelmed.

Also, one thing I’ve decided after listening to this podcast is that one of these tools migh help in planning an upcoming wedding.

Related reading:

Copyright (c) 2013 by Dennis D. McDonald. Dennis is a grizzled veteran of many projects and is seeking ways to simplify his life while making a living as a management consultant. Contact him by phone at 703-402-7382 or by email at More info is available here.

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