We use a variety of tools to execute our grant and we'll summarize these for you in three categories: Software Development, Communication and Outreach, Financials and Legal Resources.
Software Development Tools
We host all our code at Github which offers free accounts for open source projects. Github is an excellent source code management system which allows our team to work together remotely and allows other developers to fork our code and add new features to be re-integrated with our main tree. It also allows users to download any release or even unstable (latest) code from our project at any time. Github facilitates the transparency and open source nature of our grant software development efforts.
Lighthouse is a bug/ticket management service which we use to track defects and feature requests and organize our work across milestones. It's a critical resource for our project management work.
Lighthouse is also integrated with TenderApp which we use for NewsCloud's online support and feedback. So, if a use reports a problem, we can easily create a new defect ticket in Lighthouse or attach it to an existing one. TenderApp has become a critical service for interfacing with our grant partners. It also offers free accounts for open source projects and has great t-shirts!
As a Mac user, I am (lowly) part of the cult of Textmate, a great editor for software developers on OS X. I've also recently begun using Balsamiq, an interesting AIR-based mock-up tool e.g. I created this mock up of our future topics page with Balsamiq.
We get a ton of bug reports about the incompatibilities caused by the pathetic non-standard versions of Internet Explorer 7 and 8 (nightmare!) so we fire up Parallels Desktop to reproduce these. We're thankful Facebook has begun encouraging IE 7 users to upgrade.
When we're co-working, we use a Sprint Overdrive modem for Internet access. It works well in some locations, not well in others. It is not as reliable a device as my old Verizon USB modem, but it provides router capability for multiple users. I recommend waiting for version 2.0.
Communication & Research Tools
We choose to issue biweekly status updates via email to our foundation contacts, our team and other stakeholders. Here is an example status report from February 27, 2009. These reports are not required by the foundation but help us organize our work, get help with risk areas and open issues, highlight our achievements and keep everyone on the team plugged in.
For email, we're big gmail users. No surprise there.
Recently, we've begun using Google Wave and are quite impressed with it. Wave has improved a lot over time. It offers a way for our team to collaborate together, while not losing important information from our conversations and IM chats. It also helps minimize the need for IM or phone interruptions.
Financial Management Tools
We manage our finances with Quickbooks. Quickbooks make tracking expenditures and reporting to our fiscal sponsor fast and easy. We use Microsoft Excel for sharing budget spreadsheets back and forth. We use online bill pay with our bank to send checks to contractors.
Quickbooks can take a bit of time to set up but once we configure the Chart of Accounts to match our grant budget items, it's fairly straightforward to track payments and track our spending to plan.
We turned off the sketchy (hard to cancel) eFax service last year (which we used to use to capture PDFs via local fax) and now scan any documents to PDF over WiFi with our Epson Artisan Scanner.
We actually run an extra gmail account for our grant which we CC: every contract, receipt and invoice sent to our fiscal sponsor. This helps us create an online archive of all the materials shared back and forth with them.
The Citizen Media Law Project at Harvard has been an extremely helpful resource to our team.
Please let us know if you have additions, feedback or comments!