Project tools are there to support the project. If those tools are sub-standard then it’s likely they will cost your team time and raise their irritation levels. An annoyed developer is a dangerous thing, we’re fully capable of complaining about minor things for hours so imagine what seriously crap bit of software can do.
When working as a team, solid, clear and simple communication is paramount. Whether it be about initial requirements, planning, defects or delivery, the task should be the focus and the tool is just the medium. Customization comes later, the Project Manager has different priorities than a Developer, they can tailor their own views and then everyone gets to see what they need and get past the noise.
Info in, detail out
Email is not a good project communication tool, email is a very bad project communication tool. In email all messages are equal; your email with client changes is probably sandwiched between an email about IE6 and an invitation to drinks. When i try to find it again the only word that describes that process is trawling.
CC your email to your project tool and it’ll be tracked there, anyone with access can find it, and I’m less likely to delete it when Entourage tells me I’ve no space
Track tasks and defects in the tool, create sub-tasks, allocate them to developers and have them update the status as it changes. If we did this then status meetings get shorter and our productive working days get longer, and your status report becomes a link to the tool. Even with the burn-down filled in if that’s your thing.
Use SVN or Git, because not doing is irresponsible, dropbox is not a replacement for SVN, it’s a lazy insecure shared space. Think of those shared drives we used to all have. The only “improvement” that dropbox has over them is your sysadmin doesn’t have to be involved and it’s got an icon in the taskbar.
Most of all, just because you have tool you’ve used for ages, investigate alternatives. Basecamp is good, Assembla is better, because it’s got an SVN. Both can be bought and stored locally, useful when your systems people complain about where the data is held. Don’t settle for crap tools.