Project Management Tools – Working for Radio?

Over the last year students on the final year radio production course TECH3013 Advanced Radio Production, have been producing content for broadcast on DemonFM. We divided up in to three groups. Comedy Festival Podcasts, Cultural Quarter Podcasts and DemonFM Live Sessions. With each group expected to manage and develop content that will be broadcast on the station.

The aim of the module is to develop a capability and awareness of the production process for radio at an advanced level. By the end of the module learners should be able to demonstrate that they are able to produce a wide variety of different forms of audio content from a wide variety of situations and using different production techniques. All of which will be demonstrated in a production management report that explains how the content has been developed and managed. Lots of emphasis is placed on explaining the process and the decisions that are made, and giving practical advice to the reader so that they might produce similar types of programming themselves.

Some of the the wide variety of skills that learners have to develop as they work on their projects include: Time Management, Resource Management, Contacts Management, Calendar Management, Production Sessions, Deadlines.
Communication Management , Team Organisation, Role Differentiation.


All of which have to be analysed on in the production management report, using visual and schematic analysis techniques. This is not a descriptive-reflective process, where learners tell their personal thoughts about the experience of producing content. Rather, the production report asks the learner to explain to what extent the decisions that they made helped or hindered the practical production of content for DemonFM. What worked and what didn’t work? What was successful and what was a failure? How were the groups organised, and did this make a difference to the content that was produced?

The great thing about this approach is that it is always one in which the learner has to discover for themselves how we move past purely experience – usually trial-and-error – to a more systematic project development approach. In evaluating the production reports I look for the use of evaluations techniques such as SWOT analysis, or Next Steps analysis. Nothing terribly sophisticated, but useful tools for the enhancement of any project none the less.

We have used some readily available tools to help with the organisation of the project, particularly Facebook Groups for communication and messaging, some dropbox systems for sharing media files, and Google Documents for collaborative file management. But there are over seventy students undertaking the module, and while these tools are great for small groups, they are less than suited to projects with larger numbers, especially when it’s only possible to dip in and out on limited occasions to contribute to discussions or monitor progress.

So, in order to take the development of this module and it’s associated projects to the next level, and help learners shape and manage this process with a little more coherence, I’m looking for a project management system that can form the backbone of a shared project development space. I’m after something that will allow a wide range of users to get hands-on experience using a range of project management tools that that will bring this process along in a more organised manner.

So far I’ve read through the Wikipedia entry for Project Management Tools, where there is a good table of comparison between different systems. The main features that are recommended in a web based system are:

Project Management Functions

Added to this is the need to use an Open Source system that can be managed internally within the faculty and which can allow for students to be listed and managed in a collaborative and convenient environment.

So far Project.Net stands out as it can be hosted locally and is Open Source, but are there other systems out there that can be do a similar job, and which are not resource intensive to manage? I’m looking for any suggestions that can help me decide what systems I should look at and investigate further. If anyone has any links to any systems, or offers of systems development infrastructure, then please get in touch.

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