The days of cobbling together a database to track shots, assets and progress are numbered. Although nowadays it has become common for many post-production projects to be managed with Basecamp, it's an application hardly specialized to our industry.
Two web based tools currently in late beta anticipate the needs of post production more directly. Shotgun has been adopted at large facilities around the world and will be profiled separately; this article focuses on ShotRunner, and my own experiences using it as a visual effects supervisor on a pair of feature films.
The most essential thing you can do when managing a project that will require the efforts of a team is to name and organize the shots in a clear and visual way so that you and your artists can keep track of assets and time.
The first step in ShotRunner after setting up an account is to name sequences and shots, as you would on any big budget Hollywood feature. The other step that is very helpful at this point is to create a thumbnail image of each source shot, or background plate; we work in a visual medium, after all, and seeing the shots all arrayed out before you lets you scan the battlefield whenever you feel a need to assess the big picture.
The status of each shot is color-coded; the system anticipates our production process so the options in the Status menu include the gamut of post-production processes from Layout, Tracking and Comping Rough to Color Timing, Review in Edit and Producer, VFX Supervisor, Director or Client Review. These are, of course, customizable, but you're not left reinventing the wheel each time you start a new project.
The shot status is not viewed or maintained only by the supervisor as would be a private database; individual artists assigned to the project can be subscribed to given shots and update their own status. As the shot evolves and elements are added to be used with it, or comments or questions come up, those updates are emailed to everyone subscribed to that shot. The notes themselves remain on the server for easy review, and all responses are also posted on the server; as with Basecamp, email is merely a reminder system to save you having to log in just to see what's new.
At the highest level, the Project Overview page offers a bar graph whose color coding corresponds to the statuses on the Shots page as well as a list of all of the latest updates, feedback and comments. This operates more like a to-do list than a scheduler.