Recommended Team Software & Tools
Primary Contact - Charlie Nitschelm, firstname.lastname@example.org. Text:603-923-9079
There are a lot of software programs made for organization communication, management and planning. This page goes over the more used tools that SEDS chapters use. If you are a new chapter trying to get on board with connecting and managing your chapter outside of the weekly (or bi-weekly) meetings, this is very important. The way you implement, encourage and stress the importance of being connected as a team to your group decides the importance people will put on it. If you are a fairly well established chapter and want to broaden your mind of new software that can be used to help grow your organization, definitely read below! But, please note: people are naturally lazy. They naturally do not want to do things that don't seem necessary/important. So whatever you decide to do, put your mindset into the mind of a contributor only wanting to do important work. Gear your strategies to implement the use of this software to them. The impact and use of the tools you want people to use will be much, much greater.
Slack is the primary program most SEDS groups use to communicate within their chapter, and it is also a primary way SEDS USA communicates with the chapters and its members. The free application offers the ability to create channels, attach documents, and communicate all together within one work space.
I recommend the leader of any chapter watches this to understand the basics of using Slack to its full advantage and sharing the video/knowledge with the rest of there team. Overall, this tool can work wonders to get everyone talking together. It puts all the chapters communication in one spot to call upon it easily later. I recommend having the members download the app on their smartphones and all be added onto the workspace during a meeting so you can get everyone's problems out of the way. A BIG problem I had when integrating this into UNH SEDS was the automatic notifications that the phone picked. Slack has an in-depth setting view on when to be notified, so be sure to get your members to activate notifications for big messages, and also stop notifications during night-hours. I guess we all should take a break off from space stuff sometimes...
If you want to start off-the-bat with an AMAZING project management tool, get Trello. It is a beautiful software work-space that allows teams to create projects/lists within specific boards, create tasks within each list, and checklists/due-dates/responsible members within each card. It allows transparency in every club to who is not pulling their weight.
Trello is a widely used service, but is overlooked within school groups for being too 'organized.' There is a reason for this: for it to be useful, it needs to be integrated well with the team. You need to ensure the team knows the importance of keeping it up to date so that everyone in the group can look at it and read a full picture of the current state of each project. It opens up transparency to the group and identifies people when they do not pull there weight. It is a great tool to collaborate with and there is self-gratification involved whenever finishing a task within it. It must be an automatic gut feeling to update the board after working on SEDS work by all team members to ensure that you keep track of what has been worked on. It also does a great job in identifying cards/projects that need to be taken up to prevent future bottlenecks in any project.
Click this link to learn a bit more on Trello functionality and why it might be a good choice for project management in your SEDS chapter.
A Gantt chart is a widely-used tool in nearly every engineering business to plan-out what the business needs to get done in the long-term and broadly speaking. Me, personally, love how Trello can integrate well with a Gantt chart, planning out the dates of each major project beginning and ending, and understand the connection between them for your final project goal. It helps identify more clearly what is a future hold-up and what can be prioritized because of it. Again, it only work if each team member is on-board and understands the importance of it. There are many templates online, and really not one of them is perfect. It is on you to take a template, and modify it to your liking and purpose.
Here is a video on the basics of how to use a Gantt chart that actually improves your project management.
How do you deal with storing your clubs files? It can be difficult to find one platform that completely fits to your needs, so there are 3 main options that can be used individually, or all together if necessary. This section will walk you through the benefits of each one, and of course, their drawbacks.
OneDrive allows the upload and storage of Microsoft files as well as various other for download and *online collaboration*, though its online web-page features are worse then Google Drive and is tougher to use/handle. Its major benefit to most chapters is that you can work on Word, Excel, PowerPoint files on it, and a lot of people prefer that software to Googles. Also, if your school email uses Outlook, it might seem like a easy way to integrate those together.
Google Drive offers the highest level of real-time online collaboration with almost zero lag between edits on two computers. Its major downside is the in-ability to work on Microsoft Products, and that you are encouraged to have a Gmail account to use. If you are looking for a file for transparency tracking (explained in engineering management), this is the way to go. It is the easiest to collaborate that basically never fails even having 10 people on the same file.
Github is hard, but when you get it culturally ingrained in your chapter, it is amazing. OneDrive and Google Drive suck at storing big files, such as Solidworks files, or just files other then there products (MATLAB!!!). To edit those, a lot of time you have to download the entire folder of parts/scripts, edit them on your computer, and re-upload, sometimes wasting minutes of precious time. With Github (which has a steep learning curve for initial trial-monkeys), allows you to constantly be able to pull changes in a 'global' directory, keep that directory on your personal laptop, editing as you please, and pushing back your edits when you are done. The biggest thing you must ensure is that while you are working on a file locally on your computer before sending it to the master directory, NO ONE else is working on it too. If they do, shit happens and Githib must select which change to keep and which one to throw away, usually wasting a whole bunch of someones time. Take some time and watch some videos on it, and how to use it. GITHUB DESKTOP is an app you can download to a computer to make the coding that you usually have to do to a simple interface with buttons. Makes it much easier to the non-coders of the group (ME's such at coding, its a fact of life!)
My group honestly uses all THREE. We like using Word, PowerPoint etc when writing important documents that one person can work on at a time. Sometimes we need to work fast on something so we all hop on our Gmails and work within that shared folder on the Google Drive. GitHub is used within the group for basically all engineering project files, and is the reason why collaboration during the summer months and through vacation is seamless for us - everyone needs to understand the power of it though. If they don't, things can get royally screwed up.
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