Managing Non-code Projects with GitHub

by Vincent Clarke April 25th, 2013 

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Our company has tried a bunch of different ways to handle knowledge management over the years. With the exception of using Evernote to manage outreach and guest posting, most project management systems have always been either too confusing or flawed.

If one specific tool worked very well for management, it was way too conventional for our analysts. If our analysts loved a particular system, then it was way too complicated for management. No one system ever seemed to satisfy the needs of the entire team.

Github

Then we came across GitHub. It was kind of an interesting discovery for us. From our perspective, GitHub was always strictly for code sharing. Like an open source repository where programmers network and develop their various projects. But that's only because programmers jumped at the idea first. GitHub can also be used to manage other kinds of data as well.

The City of Chicago, for example, recently experimented with GitHub as new way to engage with the general public. By publishing public sector datasets on the platform, residents would be more prone to become involved with existing government projects, and "developers will feel more comfortable developing applications or services based on an open source license."

Given its layout, GitHub could become a great way to collaborate on various projects without risking any sort of disorganization by having too many people's hands in the cookie jar. For our own purposes, GitHub is a fantastic medium for facilitating communication between management, project developers and other members of the company. Let me explain how it works.

How We Work It

At its core, GitHub is an open source repository where an administrator can manage and store various revisions of projects. The projects themselves can be word documents, spreadsheets, code and other forms of data. The data is then made public to everyone in the company who can edit the files and store them on GitHub as well.

That's because users copy the entire repository onto their own systems and when they make any changes, they store their own copy onto your company's central server. What that does is encourage employees to make their own small changes on their own time since you don't have to connect directly onto the server every time.

Let's put it another way. With GitHub, anyone in the company can modify projects or files under their own personal account. Doesn't seem like that great of an idea right? Well there's more.

Whenever a user makes any changes on a GitHub file, they send a "pull request" to the file's original creator or admin. The owner can then, if they so choose, merge the changes with the master file, or simple store the new copy alongside it.

In the past, programmers would have to download the source code for a project, edit the file locally, and then email the update to the project head. Overtime, this long tail back and forth process proved to be excessively time consuming and unproductive for programmers.

Think about how this translates onto project management outside of programming and more focused on your company. Everyday projects, documents, datasets, and other processes are filed either through a local server or email client. Even software programs that compile data under one roof have trouble organizing who did what at what time and have no real approval process for edits other than granting admin access to users.

GitHub streamlines the whole process of employee contributions. Imagine that you have a project as simple as onsite ad copy. Your lead copywriter can make the initial document while the editor in chief, CEO, and marketing director can access the file and make changes to the document. The copywriter then looks at the changes and compiles them onto the master copy. The original document itself is never affected, while other participants can easier and productively make their various contributions to the project.

This works on many different levels. Employees can be encouraged to make changes to in house HR statements and comment on company policy easier this way. Project team members can each make their separate contributions to a project and each be held responsible for their involvement. Everything is organized under one roof and the master copy of the file is never in danger.

GitHub essentially breaks the management barrier allowing for creative communication between company members without any fear of security breaches or unauthorized access to specific repositories.

So how could you effectively utilize this medium for your own business? Leave your stories or creative responses in the comment section below.

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Vincent Clarke

Vincent Clarke is an Internet Marketing Specialist for USB Memory Direct, a wholesaler of custom promotional flash drives. He enjoys working one-on-one with customers to deliver great outcomes and is always looking for new content marketing strategies for the USB Memory Direct Facebook and Twitter channels.

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