Since my first days in project management, I realized that existing project management applications are so rigid, at least for software development. Documentation, reports and plans are solely managed and updated by the project managers, reports and status updates are reactive. They are submitted upon request or on timely manner. Apparently, they perfectly cover planning and scheduling, yet they overlook project members’ interaction.
Projects are very dynamic in nature. Good project management tools should accommodate a collaborative and interactive eco-system, where project member announce their status, report their progress participate in the documentation, provide input to plans, share documents and resources, get notified with change requests and raise issues.
As an alternative, project managers have been using hybrid environment of wikis, instant messengers, blogging, micro blogging and other web 2.0 applications a.k.a Project Management 2.0. This has successfully furnished the ground for interactivity, unfortunately with major challenges including:
- Project member have to register into different applications and memorize multiple usernames and passwords. No SSO
- Data cannot be easily shared between applications. Every application stands alone
- Most applications are public application and that is definitely not appropriate for projects and companies confidentiality policies
- Every application has its own UX philosophy, this prevents having single unified experience to interact with different components of the eco-system
- No centralized profile for project members. This makes it harder to track identities, contact details…..etc
So we’re reaching no where? Not really. Fortunately, Google apps are there! They furnish a complete collaborative environment and at the same time overcome the aforementioned challenges.
Over the last 3 years I have been using Google apps to manage my projects. Create a site for each project, embed or link documents, create forms to record issues and risks, share calendars to monitor progress and arrange meetings, create groups to share document and exchange emails, integrate chat with email, and get notified of document and pages changes, keep versions of documents and tracks of changes…..etc
And not to forget “LABS”, which includes nice features to empower the various applications. In my email, I can chat, have a list of latest updated document as well as view my calendar for today and track my tasks. Not enough! Then you can develop your own gadgets tailored to your needs and requirements.
No silver bullet? True Google apps do not cover some core project management practices like base lining. However currently I believe it is the solution that covers the most. Interestingly, Google keeps adding more applications to the apps family. Groups has added great value to apps and Buzz is headed for the enterprise and will become part of the apps in the coming few months.
“Google Buzz applies as much to the enterprise as it does to the consumer market. The real-time application creates an extension for communication that adds a threaded context to a conversation, a critical component for an enterprise application.” Google said. Which I believe will benefit project managers – who usually spend 90% of their time in communication.
For project management I believe Google apps are the best solution. Try Google apps to manage your projects. If you did not like it, provide me with a better option and I’ll be more than happy to work on it!