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Managing Projects from Internal and Client Perspectives


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Currently I'm using a separate project management system (BontQ), you know, like BaseCamp.  I'm wondering if anyone has figured out a way to use Evernote to eliminate the need for a separate project management system.

 

Here's the main issue.  I'm freelance so I have projects associated with different clients.  I like to give clients the ability to view task status of the various projects I'm working on for them.  HOWEVER, in many cases, the tasks for the project will not just be assigned to me.  Some will be assigned to people on my team, a sub-contractor.  Some will be the responsibility of someone in the client's company.  It seems you can pull most of the stuff off that you need to do in Evernote but I'm thinking in this scenario there may be no way around the necessity for using a more specifically purposed project management/tracking/collaboration platform like Basecamp.

 

Issue #1 - Access Control.  Ideally, I think it is most intuitive to have one notebook per project.  However, the problem is, I may not want the client to see all the tasks for that project notebook that are assigned to my internal team.  I suppose I could use tags instead of notebooks to define projects. I'd then need a tag to identify the client.  I would then have to have two notebooks.  An internal client notebook (Client Name-Internal) and an external (Client Name-External) and would share the External one with the client.  This isn't a very clean solution as it them fragments the project support materials into two notebooks.  But I suppose me and my staff would just need to be disciplined as far as remembering to put everything in the shared notebook unless it's for internal eyes only.  Maybe not that big of a deal after all.  Really what Evernote needs is the ability to share and more levels than the note book level.  Share a stack, share a notebook, share a notebook within a notebook (aka section), share a note/page within a notebook - and have only those items show up in the user's Evernote.

 

Issue #2 - Calendaring.  A week area of Evernote.  I am currently considering using Outlook and OneNote as a more tightly integrated solution.  But it has some of the same pitfalls as Evernote.  However, I can share my Outlook calendar and the integration between OneNote and Outlook with the calendar would be much tighter.  I suppose in a project summary note I could put a link to the shared calendar and in the calendar even I could put a link to the meeting notes in Evernote.  Again, not super clean, but probably would do the job.

 

Issue #3 - Notification.  I'm not talking reminders, I'm talking when someone marks an item in Evernote complete, either everyone sharing the Notebook is notified, or more ideally, the people assigned to that task (as a contributor, reviewer, etc.) are notified.  I suppose if I was granular enough with the project notebooks, if there was a function or add in, in which everyone sharing the notebook would get a daily changes summary, or better yet, there was a flag I could set in the note to "notify on change" to notify if that particular note was updated, send an e-mail, that would be an option, but I really want notification only if the note is mark 'completed'  More importantly, what about being able to assign a task and have the person assigned automatically notified by e-mail? Can do? How to do?  My gut is this is the area where Evernote falls the most short?

 

A lot of the project collaboration stuff I've done before I just created various folders on Google Drive or Skydrive.  This was just for project support materials.  Then in the project management system, I can put document links within the task information.  It's almost like what Evernote and OneNote are really doing is replacing Windows Explorer as a folder can be considered a notebook and the word, excel, etc. documents can be the pages or notes and these are all already searchable!  I suppose though, these are just trying to provide an easier interface for people of various skill level to create, organize, and access information.  But there sure is a lot of overlap.  The pitfall is if you start creating all your information in Evernote or Onenote instead of creating Word docs for instance, you now have a lot of your information in a less ubiquitous format that is not as portable should you decide to stop using one of these systems in the future.  It seems if you standardized on e-mail folder, and file folders with Word Docs, Excel, PDF's, etc.  you don't have to worry about future transportability/compatibility should you change platforms/systems/apps?  But I'm getting off on a tangent..

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I think the bottom line may very well be that Evernote is really best suited as an 'information repository' and not as a project management system in total.  I think the thing that got me going trying to see if it can be used as an all-in-one solution is the examples of using it for GTD.  The problem is, if most of your tasks are project related and they involve projects and tasks that more people than just you are involved with, then you end up having to essentially duplicate tasks - one in your GTD system, and one in the Project Task Management system.  That's not very efficient.   What I want is an all-in-one solution that is the least costly and least proprietary.

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