My Project/Product Management Toolkit

I recently switched roles from developer to delivery lead. Quickly after the shift into project/product management, I realized my existing toolkit was obsolete. I no longer needed Docker, Git extensions, or a million Chrome tabs open to Stack Overflow.

Over the past eight months, I’ve been re-building my toolbelt to make me an effective Delivery Lead. Here are five tools that have been incredibly helpful in my new role.

1. Bear

Bear is an application for taking notes. It supports Markdown, so my notes are quickly formatted, and they have a nice aesthetic. Bear makes exporting notes to PDF easy, so I can send out meeting notes quickly.

Using hashtags, you can easily organize your notes into multiple directories. For example, I store notes by meeting type, so my technical refinement notes would include #my-project/tech-refinement.

Last but not least, the pro version of Bear allows users to sync notes across devices. I can use this in a pinch when I don’t have my laptop, but I need to remember a decision that was made in a previous meeting.

2. Things

Things is a task manager. I like Things because it allows me to organize my to-dos by project. I can use it to set up recurring to-dos, such as “Send out Budget Update,” due every Monday morning. Things allows me to put due dates on tasks, so I can make sure my list is prioritized.

Also, the user experience for Things is fantastic. Their shortcut keys for setting due dates, creating new tasks, navigating between projects, etc. feel so natural.

3. Google Sheets

I use Google Sheets to track budget information. My multi-tab sheet for any project includes hours tracking, projected hours, project spend visualizations, and a summary tab for sending budget updates quickly. Sheets supports everything I need for budget tracking, from creating formulas to easily exporting visualizations for my client.

4. Text Expander

Text Expander has been a huge time saver for me. It lets users set up shortcuts that expand into full text.

I use Text Expander to create the shell for user stories that I write. If I type //us, the text is replaced by several formatted sections for the description of a story.

Text Expander also supports more advanced expansion like dates and date math. For example, when I send out my budget update every Monday for the prior week, I can use text expander to generate something like this:

Current Milestone
12/25 – 12/31: $
Total Spend: $
Remaining: $
Total Budget: $

Total Budget Update
12/25 – 12/31: $
Total Spend: $
Remaining: $
Total Budget: $

5. Grammarly

I spend a lot of time sending client communications, working on project extensions, and creating deliverable documents for customers. I use a Chrome extension called Grammarly to make sure my spelling and grammar is correct.

Grammarly provides real-time feedback in any Chrome tab for misspellings or grammar errors. Its double-space detection was also very beneficial when my Macbook keyboard decided to randomly add double spaces in the middle of sentences.

These are five tools I’ve added to my toolkit to help me automate work, remember stuff, and keep track of the “happenings” on my projects.

I’m always looking for more or better tools to make me an even more effective Delivery Lead. What tools are you using that everyone should know about?