I have recently been tasked with organizing the current status at my company. We work on a number of publically and/or privately funded R&D projects, and the amount of work has been increasing, which that has translated into additional employees. One of our current issues is that we don't have any project management system in place, and as we grow the work we are doing has the feeling of being disjointed.
I think the root of the issue is that we have a startup-Jim problem: Jim knows everything about all of our work and has been here since the beginning - if he leaves we're screwed. I've been trying to not only ease his workload by taking it over, but also making it more visible to others by documenting in-progress work and conclusions to everyone else. That's an obstacle I'm still trying to address, which I hope will be addressed by a project management solution.
A majority of our work is focused on R&D of an innovative sustainable energy technology - not a computer-tech technology, and we want to get an idea of how the work we're doing relates to the end goal of commercialization of our product. From a project management perspective, is there a difference between building a deploying something physical vs something on a computer screen?
Most of the current project management solutions I've been reading about online are focused on coding, and for some reason it doesn't feel applicable to our work - I could be totally wrong here though. Take for example a basic Kanban system approach of To-do, In progress, and Done tags. Most of our 'Done' work becomes new 'To-do' work, and isn't necessarily determined from the get go.
Another issue I see with Kanban boards is that it's difficult to see how different projects with related work somehow tie together. That probably takes some more high-level thinking out loud with colleagues. That is totally acceptable.