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Michelle Murrain talks about her OpenIssue Toolbox

The other day, I sat down with Michelle Murrain, an SSC user who put together the OpenIssue Tools Toolbox (seen at right), to chat about what she does, how she uses SSC and why Redmine can convert any Basecamp user over to the dark side.

What do you do? How are you involved in the nonprofit sector?

I work for OpenIssue, which is a business that implements web services for nonprofits and social enterprises using open platforms as well as offering strategic consulting. So, for example, OpenIssue may develop an organization’s website using Drupal (an open source CMS) or put together their CRM using CiviCRM (an open source CRM).

How’d the OpenIssue Tools Toolbox come into existence and why do you maintain it?

I put together this list, on the fly, of tools that we use a lot in our daily work. Whether they’re tools we develop on, like Drupal, or simply tools that we work with day to day like the project management tool, Redmine. The idea is that we can show our clients and other interested parties the tools that we work with as well as keep a conscious list for ourselves.

Can you tell us a little about how and why you use some of the tools in the OpenIssue Tools Toolbox?


Looking at the various options in CMSes, we felt that Drupal was the best option for developing the kinds of sites that we needed to produce for our clients. Certain things, like the ease in which Drupal can develop large and complex sites and the fact that organizations can relatively easily pick up on content editing made Drupal seem like the best choice. Also, the fact that we have experience working with it meant we didn’t have to learn an entirely new platform or language. So a lot of our decision came down to practicality.


OpenIssue is currently two partners: Michelle and Thomas (with various independent contractors) and Thomas is the people person. He’s into knowing who is out there and how we can collaborate. LinkedIn is a perfect place for seeing who is in the field, available, what experience that they have etc.


We were using Intervals for a while and outgrew it pretty quickly. We were about to use Trac but then ran into a wall because Trac is single-project only. There is a multi-project Trac version but when looking into it in a forum, someone suggested Redmine as a better alternative and the rest was kismet. Redmine is an open source project-management tool based on Ruby on Rails. While Basecamp is sort of a standard among many in the sector, Redmine does everything Basecamp do and more in an easier and free interface. As someone who has used many project management tools and tested even more, Redmine has continually impressed me with how it meets my needs.


Be sure to check out OpenIssue and Michelle Murrain’s OpenIssue Tools Toolbox.
Michelle also keeps a great blog at Zen and the Art of Nonprofit Technology.

Do you have a collection of tools that you use for your organization? Create a toolbox and tell us about it!

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