I love checklists and tools that help you manage your workload. I feel a good tool helps you “punch above your weight” by keeping you organized, focused and productive. I think some of the strongest tools like this that you can find are Basecamp, Nozbe, Evernote. I use all three every day. One (or two) of those might be headed for the sidelines because there is a new kid on the block, at least new in my awareness. Trello was introduced in September 2011. How have I missed hearing about it till now?
The concept behind Trello is a marker board on which you track your project planning, research, tasks, issues, etc. You would likely have a board for each project. The board contains lists on which you plan your work. These default to three lists named TO-DO, DOING, DONE; but you can change the names and add as many lists as you want.
The lists are made up of cards. Again, as many as you want. I could see the cards having phase names like schematics, design development, etc. You might have other cards that span phases for things like building code, zoning, specs, cost estimate, special permits, etc. So far this isn't earth shattering stuff. The real magic lies “inside” these cards. This inside-card view lets you view activity on the card, add comments, create multiple checklists, write a description, add attachments (generous limits), assign people to the work, and more. This is very powerful stuff, especially the collaboration aspect which equals what you can do with Basecamp, Nozbe, Evernote - only free.
- It's free. Most small firms won't need a paid account.
- The hierarchical board / list / card / checklist that can mimic project / phases / to-dos.
- Attachments! Photos, PDFs, drawings-in-progress...
- “Subscribing” to a card (phase) keeps you posted on what is happening (or not happening).
- Templates. Since you can copy just about anything, you could create a master project to start each job with, saving lots of setup time and making your project management stronger with each project.
- Synched Multi-platform program. The app is available as browser-based, and mobile for Android, iPhone, and iPad. Use one or all of them. All work great and are automatically synchronized so everyone is always looking at the same thing.
- They have very detailed HELP articles.
- Add Members. You can add anyone you want to your boards by sending an invitation. They can then participate.
This is a surprisingly powerful and feature-rich app. I think Fog Creek Software has a real winner.