I am currently working for a University on their online course team. The person that is managing the course development is struggling a bit to manage (from a high level) the workflow, which is currently a very complex Excel worksheet.
Basically: We have 50+ modules, each containing up to 10 units. She has to liaise with the authors, proofreaders, content designers (me + 3), Finance, and various other parties.
So, let's say units 1-2 are live, unit 3 is ready for putting online, units 4-5 are in proof-reading, unit 6 is back from proof reading and has gone back to the author for amendments, and 7-10 are awaiting writing.
Multiply this by 50 and you'll see it gets VERY complex.
So, how should a situation like this be managed best? Maybe Excel is the best option as it's visual and "all there" in one interface - however it's completely manual, and no way to (for example) link email correspondence or add notes easily to each module or unit...
Personally I think it needs a custom solution (web based) - unless something exists.