We will soon start a research project (longitudinal study for 2-3 years) with a team of 7 (+ interns).
I think these are pretty prototypical conditions for psychological research.

requirements clash with business-oriented project management tools

  • flat hierarchy, so tasks aren't usually assigned by a superior
  • unusual working hours – most workers are student helps that work part time and a lot of our assessments (the main time-eating work) will take place after the usual 9to5
    • so we would try to find someone who is free that afternoon to conduct an assessment session quite often – this entails keeping people in the loop without email ie. text messages
    • we would like to track hours
  • we'll share a lot of scientific literature and might collaborate in tagging, excerpting etc.

some custom stuff is needed

We're almost sure that we'll need to program our custom solution for organizing the assessments. We need all participants to choose possible dates and as soon as 4 participants choose the same date and someone is available to lead the assessment session, the date should be blocked, they should be notified and also reminded by text messages. It's kind of like doodle.com+tetris - probably to specific?

my main question

  • Do you know of a project-management tool that makes sense for such an environment?
  • Are we better off
    • mixing different purpose-built web apps (we now use Gmail, GoogleGroups, Dropbox, Zotero, Google Calendar, Google Docs + would need some sort of time tracker),
    • risk redundancy (Dropbox ∩ Docs ∩ Zotero ∩ Gmail) and
    • lose integration (it would be great to have something that is both calendar and time tracker, but maybe we should at least stay with the Google products that are somewhat integrated) ?
  • Is there a third way? I found Charm and cloudHQ which promise to integrate Dropbox and project management. Charm doesn't add much value and cloudHQ is still in alpha. But I generally like the idea to assemble my much-used tools into something less redundant and better integrated.
  • I didn't know that this more specific SE site was around as well. If this question is moved there, I wouldn't mind, but since I'm also asking about the benefits of simply integrating the different web apps maybe there's reason to stay.
    – Anonymous
    Commented Apr 16, 2011 at 5:46

4 Answers 4


My basic instinct has always been to go in light and be open to change - from programming to project management (basis for agile approaches). Get the communications and planning tools in place that are easily used and cheap, integrate only those tools when and if the integration will provide true value NOW. Specific to your questions:

  • mixing vs. purpose built? - mix them and only invest in purpose built as a last resort (let others pay the cost of better tools)
  • risk redundancy? redundant for you or your team? set a standard, but don't enforce it on everyone unless you can ensure they are not losing productivity
  • loose integration - absolutely, just like programming, don't over complicate the tools, the focus is on the project, not on the tools to manage it

I would use Redmine. And work using Scrum methodology.

  • Redmine seems rather programming-tailored (flaunts bug-tracking etc.). For us task, time and especially contact management (SMS integration?!) matter more – we're not shipping a product.
    – Anonymous
    Commented Apr 16, 2011 at 5:49

We decided on using projecturf.com because it was quite cheap for one project and rather integrated with some of the services we're used to (dropbox, google docs).

However, the whole "finding a meeting" aspect won't be needed anymore.
We didn't find anything who provided what we needed for this anyway.


We looked for a while for a tool that would help some of our research units schedule people, rooms, and other resources that all had to be available at the same time according to various rules (depending on the site and the resource), and decided we had to build our own. I'd go with trying to integrate the tools you and/or your team are used to using. Adaptations of applications that the student workers are already using would be especially good, since they won't have the time or inclination to learn new software and it sounds like you won't often (ever?) have them all in one place.

If you have a programmer on your team, maybe s/he can eliminate some of the redundancy by automatically populating redundant fields in one tool with data from another.


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