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Looking for a Solution: Work Chat not fitting the bill

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I run a development team and we've tried a few different project tracking systems.  Currently we're using evernote.  Actually it's just me using evernote to track our projects, assign tasks, and keep a handle on the dev schedule.  We need to expand this so that our entire team is able to communicate and work within the system.


Evernote works for keeping a queue of my projects, updating major enhancements, testing results, posting details, etc..  However, it doesn't provide a good way for daily communication about a project to get archived.  We were considering a possible Evernote/HipChat/Zapier solution but it's still a little lacking.


The plan is to...

1.  Create project in Evernote, type in all the details, scope, team members, arvhice the spec. 

2.  Create a room in HipChat for the project.

3.  Share this Note out to everyone, read only

4.  All communication about this project form this point on happens in the HipChat Room

5   Create a Zapier that updates our Evernote with all hipChat messages (this works great)

6.  When a project is completed we archive the HipChat room and move our Note to the Completed Projects Notebook



So this is a decent plan but we have a lot of small projects and it will take a lot of work for me to keep a system like this up and running.  It needs to be really simple for the project team and nothing is simpler than hipchat interface and simple updating/file sharing right in there.  But the set up of each and every project is where I'm having a problem.


I was hoping when I created a new EN Note with a specific Tag (Project) that I could use that as a Zapier trigger to create a new HipChat room.  There is no HipChat action in Zapier (or IFTTT) that allow you to create a New room, only add messages to an existing room or update a Room Topic.   Also there are no triggers to close a room when I change a Note tag or change a Note tag when I Archive a room.  So while my system will work it's very manual.


I tried looking at Work Chat but the problem with work chat is that it's a huge all or nothing chat window.  I need a stand alone communication sandbox for each project.  So I would need a chat thread for each project.  Work Chat is one giant thread.  I can't have a huge chat thread where all projects are being communicated about at once.  


I can't just share out the notes because EN doesn't really fit our scheme that way either.  I can share out a Notebook but not a specific Note, or even better a specific Tag.  I wish when I entered a developers tag to a Note it was then shared to him.  But the only way to do that is share it through Work Chat and then every time he wants to edit he has to go through his giant Work chat thread and find it to click on it and update.


So the system kind of works but I'm missing a few automated connections in Zapier/IFTTT that would make this really work for me and Work Chat, while I'm sure it's useful for many people, doesn't really give me the granular support I need for in-project communication.


Does anyone have any other suggestions?  Tools that would allow me to attach some kind of ongoing chat tool/app to each Note/Project and arvhive it in the Note when done.  Or a client that allows actions to set up a Room type area for communication from a Zapier/IFTTT trigger?

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WorkChat needs a lot of work...

Your suggestions and considerations are all excellent... 


There is some good points here for making workchat better.


I dont think we should have to use 3rd party apps to get the type of communication you are looking for.


I however do understand you want a solutions now, and that you are looking at the current best possible solutions.



I just hope workchat evolves into something more.

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Trello offers archiving at different levels. If you're familiar with Kanban and are willing to rewire the way you visualize your workflow, they have the whole bang shoot. But they're not Evernote. You're not going to find a one-stop shop in any app out there for all your repository and task-management needs. A number of my students who are systems analysts have used Trello to manage their workflow with more than satisfactory results.


Evernote and Trello could do the trick... here's an Evernote/ Trello Zapier integration: https://zapier.com/zapbook/evernote/trello/

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I have looked at JIRA and the problem with JIRA is that it's too complex.  I don't mean it's difficult to learn, there's just too much maintenance to keep things going.  We do a lot of rapid app development and small projects/tasks and these larger project management apps built for project management just create a barrier to get things done for us.  If I'm spending two or three hours a day keeping my system up to date it's hurting me.  Evernote work because it's super simple.  Free form text areas with lots of tagging, I tag everything.  And that's just me.  Trying to get my developers to update a complex system with every change they're making is just untenable.  I want their system to be so simple that it's not a burden and barely takes a moment away from their production time.  


What I'm really looking for is something in the middle.  Evernote would actually be perfect if I could just have more control over sharing (Sharing via Tag or even via Note without requiring Work Chat) or some kind of forms/message template that could easily be attached to a Note automatically. Right now we're probably going to test a project or two with the Evernote/Zapier/HipChat strategy above unless I can find something better without being as robust but time draining as a full project manager like JIRA.


I've seen Trello around but never really taken a look at it.  I'll take a peek.  Thanks.

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  • Level 5*

OK, but I seriously don't think that you are doing anything that thousands of other development shops do and I've seen JIRA work very successfully in a number of different sized organisations. That's part of the beauty, you can make the workflow as simple or complex as you like and I'm not sure how updating a JIRA ticket is any tougher for your developers than updating an Evernote note.


It would seem to be that trying to shoehorn your process into a mixture of different applications, none of which really fits the bill is not only going to take a lot more effort but also greatly increases your risk across the whole solution.


But each to their own. Good luck.

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  • Level 5*

You could abandon Evernote and take a look at JIRA from Atlassian instead which is actually designed for running development teams.

Evernote helps me to take control over my own development tasks, regardless of the overlaying system, and I love it for that, but I wouldn't want to use it for running a development team of any size / complexity.


I have looked at JIRA and the problem with JIRA is that it's too complex.

I'd consider the "Evernote/HipChat/Zapier solution" combo that you mentioned to be complex. I've used JIRA that included in the past, and was fine with it. You should be able to automate processes to streamline the day-to-day stuff; might cost you some upfront work, though. Metrodon would know for sure, since I didn't do any of the JIRA setup in my old situation.


Edit: Metrodon beat me to the punch.

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