WordPress Project Management Update

Last week I wrote about using WordPress for Project Management and it got mixed responses. However, I know how I want to set things up and WordPress is perfect for what I’ve got in mind.

Maybe I need to elaborate on a couple of things. At most we have maybe 3 or 4 people on a project, or sometimes it’s just the two of us, so standard project management software is too excessive for our needs. All I need to do is create a post, write a to do list, add the initials after each item for the person who’s dealing with it, and that’s it. Then we can just make comments on the post with questions and/or updates about the work. The comments are timestamped which obviously helps, and I’ll get an email for every comment. You can also subscribe to the comment feed for each post, so all everyone else will need is a lightweight feedreader and they can just add the comment feed for current work posts to keep up with the discussion.

It’s simple, but that’s all we need. Somewhere for me to list the work needing to be done that we can all access, and somewhere to share the discussion, where the discussion is logged for future reference.

Today I decided to try out a plugin called Allow Categories which allows you to restrict any non Admin to only see posts from specific categories. This isn’t to try and hide our work from the freelancers that we employ, but more to simply reduce what they need to wade through really. The restriction/hiding of posts works fine, however all categories were still being displayed in the category list in the sidebar, so after various attempts I’ve managed to use a function to override the wp_list_categories() output, and remove the specific categories that shouldn’t be displayed.

I’ve added my first actual project post for a new site that needs to be sorted out over the next couple of weeks. It took me all of a couple of minutes to type up what needed doing plus leave a comment with an update of what we were still waiting for from the client and what could be started.

Besides adding the other projects that are currently on, I just need to work out how I want the front page to work and look. So far so good 🙂

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4 Responses

  1. Ryan Martin says:

    That sounds like a pretty creative use of a WordPress blog. I can’t think of any reasons why it wouldn’t work, but then I don’t think that I am quite as knowledgeable able php as your are 😉

  2. Sean Collins says:

    Sarah,

    I was thinking the same thing and came across your blog while looking for helpful plug-ins that might help this idea.

    I’m a freelance designer and I’ve been exploring all the usual open source options out there as well. I don’t have the need for collaboration (although WP would allow it), tasks, or milestones. There really doesn’t seem to be anything out there that’s simple to use and has all I want.

    I’m currently using an AIR app called Klok which is great for keeping track of actual time spent per project. I just name a client as a project, name each job as a sub project, and then click “work on” when I’m working and “stop” when I take a break. Then you can export all your recorded time as a CSV file.

    So I thought about WordPress this week and this was my first concept: Rename “categories” as “clients” to keep all client related stuff together. Each job for a client would be a post. Rename “comments” as “notes” and keep any notes and paste all important emails as individual notes. WP has built-in search capabilities but a plug-in like Search Unleashed expands it nicely to search everything. This would make it easy to find any of your notes or important emails much faster.

    I will install this on my local system since I don’t have any immediate collaboration needs. I use EasyPHP as my localhost server program.

    Another added benefit for you, as a collaborator, would be the ability to upload files to WP. I just keep everything in a separate client folder on my drive.

    My idea for the front page would be to show all active projects. Old projects would automatically get archived which is another great thing about WP. Never know when you want to look up some old info.

    Sunbird is a cool/handy calendar program for keeping track of paying bills on time and alerts for appointments. Unfortunately, not being a programmer, it’s very limited and I can’t change it.

    What I’m looking to add to this WP Project Management idea is some simple scheduling function that comes up in chart form and a gantt chart for seeing the flow of projects. I’ve created these items (sort of) in Calc and they work fine – it would just be ideal to have everything all together rather than using multiple programs.

    I agree the stuff out there is either too expensive, not what WE want, or too intricate. I don’t want to spend a half-hour setting up a new client in my system and having all these unnecessary functions cluttering the screen.

    Lastly, WordPress can be re-designed to your own user-interface. I thought of Drupal as well, but I’m thinking WP is simpler. It might not have as many plug-ins as Drupal but it’s easier to explore and tinker with. I think.

    Appreciate it if you could keep me up to date with your progress and concepts.

    PS. You mentioned hiding certain content from the categories list. Have you tried using the exclude function? I set up a blog recently where I wanted content in the right side-column but not in the left-side category list. It was as easy as assigning posts to a right-side category and then inserting this code into the sidebar.php file:

    <?php wp_list_categories(‘exclude=8&show_count=1&title_li=Categories’); ?>

    8 being the category for right-side content.

    • Sarah says:

      Hi Sean, thanks for your detailed comment! We just use WordPress to keep track of what work is on, and where we’re up to. Uploading files is handy but it’s not something I really thought of using mainly because I could/would just email the files to whoever needed them. The WP project site just helps us know what’s going on and where, although now my freelance developer is too busy to take on work anyway so it’s just back to the two of us who are in the same room, so the project site has taken a back seat for now.

      As for your comment about the categories list, yes I used the exclude parameter, but it needed to determine which person was logged in and then display the categories that the user was permitted to see hence why I wrote a function to redo the category list output 🙂

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