DLF Project Managers Toolkit

From DLF Wiki
Revision as of 23:54, 10 April 2017 by Cristelags (talk | contribs)
Jump to navigation Jump to search

This toolkit is a collaborative project, based off contributions by members of the Digital Library Federation Project Managers Group (DLF PMG). First initiated by Jennifer Vinopal at New York University in February 2013, the toolkit has grown and evolved over the years as a living document to share experiences and link out to resources.

  • What? A crowdsourced collection of information, tips, techniques, and tools for project managers working in digital libraries. Please contribute and share your knowledge.
  • Why? Whether we realize it or not, librarians and library staff are managing projects all the time. These may be informal or formal projects, or we might not think of them as projects at all. Just the same, we could all stand to take a more organized and structured approach to planning and accomplishing our project work. Much of the project management literature and training frequently emphasizes a corporate perspective, which may not always be applicable to a library setting.
  • Who? Anyone who wants to contribute. Feel free to post anonymously if you prefer, or sign the contributors list at the end of the document.
  • How? Be generous with your knowledge and be respectful of what others have written. Share your experience and help others to learn from both your successes and failures.

Visit the DLF Project Managers Group website for more information, including past meeting notes.

Project Management Software

This section contains a list of tools for project management, with pros and cons for each.

=== Asana ===

Uses and Overview

Asana allows team members to collaborate on projects and track the progress of tasks. It works both for software development projects and other more generic projects.


  • Free (up to 15 members)
  • Great for task-based work
  • Works on mobile


  • If your team has over 15 members, you need to pay
  • Doesn't do as well with project dicsussion
  • Does not allow for private teams in free version
  • No bug/issue tracking


Uses and Overview

Basecamp allows collaborators to post messages, organize to-do lists and documents, and create group schedules.


  • intuitive design
  • easy-to-use features
  • email integration
  • some calendar integration


  • first project is free, but you need to pay after that point
  • scheduling support is limited

Related App: goplan


Uses and Overview

Trello is an application for tracking tasks. It allows you to move individual cards (representing tasks) as they enter different phases. Trello allows you to assign tasks to different collaborators, create due dates, and provide contextual information for the tasks to be completed.


  • very similar to analog/paper SCRUM boards
  • feature-specific prioritization
  • bug tracking
  • useful for tracking action/discussion items from meetings
  • able to link or attach supporting documents to cards


  • showing hierarchy of tasks not really possible
  • not able to easily produce a to-do list (i.e. from the user's end, a list of tasks that the user is assigned to)

Google Apps

Uses and Overview

Google Apps (specifically, Google Drive) is a suit of tools for creating documents collaboratively and sharing information. Google Apps include a text, spreadsheet, and slide editor, as well as applications for drawing, organizing calendars, and sharing (but not editing) other types of files.


  • easy to share documents with large teams for collaboration
  • easily searchable and organizable


  • you may need to use another tool to track/organize relevant documents, especially if there are a lot of them

Pivotal Tracker

Uses and Overview

Pivotal Tracker allows users to organize tasks by project and stories while integrating release dates and prioritization into the workflow.


  • helps organize agile project teams that cannot meet in person


  • only free for thirty days (paid plans)

Jira Greenhopper (Agile PM)

Uses and Overview

JIRA Greenhopper allows teams to "create and estimate stories, build a sprint backlog, visualize activity, measure team velocity, and report on progress."


  • works well for teams who use Scrum project management methods


  • paid service ($10 for teams of up to 10; $75 and more for 15 teams and up)


Uses and Overview

Redmine allows you to track issues, latest project news, and organize projects by members and contributors. You can associate files with given projects, create Gantt charts and calendars, and create wikis to document projects. Redmine has a demo site that allows you to see how it looks in action.


  • open source
  • plug-ins allow for extensibility
  • ability to manage multiple simultaneous projects


  • doesn't work well with projects that aren't typical software development projects


Uses and Overview

Smartsheet allows team to collaborate and communicate with a spreadsheet-style interface. It allows for file sharing, alerts and reminders, the creation of Gantt charts, and other features that will help to organize your projects.


  • relatively simple (based on spreadsheets)
  • customizable and flexible
  • links to other tools and services (like Google Docs)


  • paid service


Uses and Overview

Slack is a communication app for teams. It integrates with several of the project management tools on this list, and allows team members to communicate more easily and informally than through email.


  • allows for easy communication between entire organizations, small groups within the organization, and individual members
  • integrates with many other applications (e.g. Google Docs, Trello, GitHub, etc.)
  • allows members to easily set up reminders, take notes-to-self


  • free version only has a 10,000 message capacity (older messages get deleted)

Other software-independent recommendations for project management

  • Wikis for project documents and documentation
  • Google Docs or other collaborative editor for the creation of project charter, meeting notes, etc. with separate document (or folder) for meeting notes
  • Ticket-trackers
  • Planning Poker
  • After-Action Reviews
  • Scheduling using Doodle or Google Sheets is useful for tracking team members' schedules

Project Charters

The goal of a project charter is to document agreement between all parties (sponsor, stakeholder, staff) about the goals, scope, and deliverables of the project. Ideally, the document defines time, scope and cost.

It is useful to use this time to answer questions about cost/benefit and the extent to which people can actually reasonably contribute to the project. The Project Management Group recommends discussing the following questions at this stage:

       What are the objectives of the project?
       What are the expected benefits of the project?
       What is the scope of the project? (specifically, what's not in scope...)
       How will we know the the project is done?
   Who are the stakeholders?
       Who is the end user audience?Who?
       Who is going to work on the project?
       Who is managing the project?
       Who is/are the sponsors of the project?
   How much time can participants reasonably spend on the project

After the answers to these questions have been decided upon, the Project Charter itself should be drafted. The following is the basic format of a Project Charter:

   Project name
   Description (high-level statement of your project goal)
   Success criteria (how will we know when the project is done?) – SMART goals
   Requirements (deliverables, optionals, & out of scope)
   Project team (including roles)
   Milestones/Schedule (high-level + proposed dates)

Drafting the charter is an iterative process:

   Write a draft
   Share it with project team
   Share it with stakeholders
   Repeat until consensus

The Project Charter Toolkit can be a useful resource whether you are looking to understand what a project charter is or you’re just looking for some fresh ideas on laying out/structuring your particular charter. They have free templates to download, samples, etc.



  • “The Project One-Pager: A simple tool for collaboratively defining project scope.” Tito Sierra, DLF Forum, 2011.

A straightforward way to describe your project and project scope in order to build consensus. http://www.slideshare.net/tsierra/the-projectonepager

Project Portfolio Management

Workshop Slides and Syllabi

  • THATCamp Philly | Workshop 2 | Herding Cats: Project Management for Collaborative Work 2:00PM-3:45PM, Friday September 23, 2011 Instructor: Delphine Khanna, Temple University Description: How can you make sure that the project gets done when you’re not the “boss” and you don’t even work for the same institution? This workshop will give participants project management skills to help make sure that all stakeholders are heard, happy, involved and invested. Session slides: http://philly2011.thatcamp.org/files/2012/06/khanna_pm.pptx
  • Introduction to Project Management for Libraries - Slides from Jennifer Vinopal’s presentation for the Project Management workshop at Electronic Resources & Libraries, 2013 http://hdl.handle.net/2451/31750
  • Calhoun, Karen S., and Jessica G. Benner. 2014. “Project Management in Libraries: LIS2971 Summer Course.” Abstract: Includes syllabus and 4 class presentations for a short 1-credit course to introduce LIS students or practitioners to the discipline of project management in a hands-on way, so that they can begin applying project management methods immediately. http://d-scholarship.pitt.edu/22620/.

Readings and Links

  • Carpenter, Julie. Project management in libraries, archives and museums: working with government and other external partners. Oxford: Chandos Publishing, 2010. Print ISBN: 978-1843345664


  • Andy Ashton, Brown University
  • Carolyn Caizzi, Northwestern University
  • Kathleen Cameron
  • Jason Casden, North Carolina State University
  • Tim Clarke, Muhlenberg College
  • Tom Cramer, Stanford University
  • Cristela Garcia-Spitz, UC San Diego Library
  • Joshua Honn, Northwestern University
  • Katherine Kott, Independent Consultant
  • Christine Malinowski, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Lisa McAulay, UCLA
  • Sandra McIntyre, Mountain West Digital Library
  • Alan Pike, Emory Center for Digital Scholarship
  • Sarah Stanley, Florida State University
  • Joan Starr, California Digital Library
  • Micah Vandegrift, Florida State University Libraries
  • Jennifer Vinopal, New York University
  • Cliff Wulfman, Princeton University
  • Cynthia York, Johns Hopkins University