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I'm building a project request system for our organization and think I know what I want to do, but want to run it by some others first.

Our graphics department gets requests from staff and other departments for graphics projects: Newsletters, business cards, branding, posters, event promotion materials, etc. Right now they don't have a very good system, they are using email. People send an email and ask for what they need. THis often leads to many emails going back and forth before the graphics department has all the info they need. They have asked me to find some way to do the following:

  • all info from online request form
  • Status (Unassigned (red), Assigned (orange), With Designer (yellow), Out for Review (yellow), Out to Client (yellow), Sent to Print (green), Complete(blue)
  • Priority (ASAP, High, Medium, Low)
  • Date Submitted
  • Billed (check box)
  • estimate
  • sent?(check box)
  • project #
  • notifications sent to designer when a project is assigned to them

I can do this all in ExpressionEngine at least two ways. The most obvious is to use a Channel and the Channel Form tags to do this on the front end. I could also use Freeform Pro (we are using it for other forms). It seems that using Channels/Channel Form (Safecracker) is the most straightforward approach. Would Freeform Pro offer any advantage? I'm leaning toward Channels right now since everything I'd need (Postmaster for the notifications for one) works natively with Channels and isn't fully supported in Freeform Pro.

Alternatively, are there off the shelf solutions like Basecamp (but not Basecamp) that do this? We don't need the client to be able to edit their entries, just the graphics manager to see the entries, assign them to designers, and mark them as completed when they are done. Sort of a project dashboard for her to keep track of things.

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If you're going to be using a form submission to track your project requests all the way through and updating status along the way, I'd think the channel form would be the way to go. With Freeform Pro, you can't really do any editing from the front-end after the initial form is submitted. Users of the control panel can definitely access the form submissions and edit them though, but it seems to me that it may be going a bit beyond what Freeform is designed for.

Ultimately, I think it's really just a matter of what you're comfortable with and what accomplishes your needs. Both routes would likely work fine.

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I would do Channel Entries with Channel Form (safecracker) as that will give you much more control over how you interact with and edit the data after its submitted.

However, there are other systems that would do this more easily out of the box. Maybe even just set up a Trello board? (https://trello.com/).

Each request would be a new card in Trello. You can use labels for status. Simply drag to re-order cards for urgency/priority. You can add comments and upload files to each card.

Some of the details like billed, project #, sent?, etc. might need to be simple comments.

If not Trello, you could try a issue tracking/ticket system, or a more complete project management tool.

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