PERSPECTIVE: Project Management Wave


google_wave_logoExperts say that up to 90% of a project manager’s time is spent on communication either with stakeholders, project team, suppliers or upper management within the organization. That volume speaks about the importance of communication to any project. Experienced project managers can relate to this, when communications is done properly, the project is more likely to achieve its objectives.

Easy formula! Not really. Managing communication is one of the most challenging tasks for a project manager. Daily, you might receive and send hundreds or thousands of emails and IM messages. Some issues start on email but get concluded on IM or vice versa. Keeping track of communication, and most importantly the sequence and relation between messages is really a hectic process.

A proper tool should be available to help. Ironically, available project management applications overlook this fact. However, they significantly concentrate on scheduling and reporting, which make them not of great help in this matter. Relying on web 2.0 applications to enhance collaboration and communication was introduced as what is called Project Management 2.0. However, the down side is that you still have to rely on too many applications e.g. twitter, email, IM…..etc. There is no real integration between different applications especially email and IM.

So what exactly we are looking for as project managers? What are the characteristics of the tool that will help manage communications at ease? I think we want the option to communicate in real-time, but also the ability to communicate at our leisure at times. We want a “passive-aggressive” method of communication. Passive communication is when you are just listening, not waiting for nor expecting a prompt response i.e. email, while aggressive communication is about getting a response promptly i.e. IM. We want both approaches in a unified tool.
Wave! Yes Google Wave is the answer. Google Wave is both a platform and a new communication standard. A wave is:

  • Equal parts; conversation and document. People can communicate and work together with richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps and more. A wave can be embedded in a web page as well
  • Shared; any participant can reply anywhere in the message, edit the content and add participants at any point in the process. Then playback; anyone rewind the wave to see who said what and when. You can send to everyone in the wave or select a subset of users.
  • Live; with live transmission as you type, participants on a wave can have faster conversations, see edits and interact with extensions in real-time.

From project management perspective, you can keep track of all communication and documents related to the project. You can track and follow up on issues till conclusion, you can coordinate with your team members and you can communicate with stakeholders using the same wave, awesome!
It is worth mentioning that Google Wave is still not finalized yet, it has been recently released to a limited group of developers for feedback and bugs reporting. However initial indications promise great potential and a mindset shift in our understanding of communication.
So will Project Management 3.0 be based on Google Wave? Most probably.

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Update 1: May 22, 2010: Along with  Google announcement  to make Wave public, a new project/work management extension is annouced;  Unawave.

Unawave builds task management and project management into Google Wave, providing a level of functionality to manage work and project teams. It has crowdsourcing elements that allows people to add videos or images, for instance, to give projects and tasks more context. A real-time dashboards gives insights into how work is progressing.

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8 thoughts on “PERSPECTIVE: Project Management Wave

  1. well, i totally agree that available tools mostly deal with scheduling, reporting, tracking, calculating… and communicating (effectively) hardly exists… everything is possible… but, honestly, i prefer reading a real physical book rather than an ebook!

  2. i agree totally with you… available tools are for scheduling, tracking, reporting, calculating…etc, but looking for effective communications through a tool is not easy at all… i would like personally to follow your recommendation… still, honestly, i prefer to read a physical printed book rather than an ebook!

  3. I think time will only tell on whether Google will control the PM Software market or not.

    I wonder how Google’s step into this industry will affect the other online PM tools already available in the market.

    • I believe Google is looking from a higher level. They are working to dominate “Communication” in general. Google Wave and Google Voice are clear indications that Google are moving to Communication and Telecommunication fields

  4. A very interesting discussion to this article can also be found at linkedin @ http://bit.ly/3N3zwv

    In brief, there are 2 comments about using vocal communication and verbal communication. Suggesting that Google Wave might not be enough.

    My answers were as follows:

    Integrating Voice with Wave might really introduce a complete Unified Communication tool. Hope Google are considering this. In all cases written communication play a vital role in project manager life.

    Making a call is an aggressive approach. However, most of the time, we need the passive communication, especially when communicating with project sponsors (busy people) and suppliers. Even for internal communication, you might need to delay the discussion over a certain issue, or conclude it gradually.

    As for face-to-face communication, from my experience, in all cases it is not enough. Even if you get the answer verbally, I believe it should be documented by a follow-up email to keep track of the discussion progress and, to stress that the verbal message was communicated properly.

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