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You make some very valid points about the way in which collaborative software has been "grouped." The roadblocks at this point I believe are soley our imagination, willingness to experiment, and fortunately, to a lesser extent, the technology itself. In the absense of a "perfect" solution, project managers invent tools to solve the problems. WE've been using Webex and Placeware as a means of sharing powerpoint slides, conduting remote trainging, sharing requirements documents, etc. I believe the concept of web-based PM extends beyond the traditional "project planning" to include things such as:
- conducting a requirements gathering session
- reviewing test plans
- obtaining consensus on deliverables
- Developing documentation
Given that, part of the role of the project manager may now include finding the 'right' collaboration tool to facilitate discussion among team members who are often scattered to the four corners of the earth!
We are working on TeamCluster Project, a Web based collaborative project management tool for cross-functional teams. You can check it out at www.teamcluster.com.
You mention team collaboration to gather key requirements and key planning information. This can be accomplished via an on-line opinion poll functionality.
Integrated document management, with centralized repository, help the team to develop, review, and collaborate on project documentation, such as test plans, test results, etc.
Once the plan is in place, we found that easily Web accessible, well structured, and centrally managed project information portal greatly reduces the overhead on the team in getting the job done:
- they don't diplicate the effort.
- they don't have to access multiple
applications to get to the project
- information is consistent and easily trackable.
- review of progress, such as in team meetings is a snap - bring up issues/actions/
deliverables on screen.
- Meeting agenda is consistent, with issues/
action items recorded in real time.
There are many other benefits of distributed access to centrally managed project information. The net effect is savings in time, cost, and effort.
Michael, Mark, and Harry;
I have been using eProject for years. eProject provides a collaborative workspace to share any information anytime for customers and team members. There is an upload capability from MS Project to bring up your project tasks, assign them to project team members and have them update the tasks in real-time on any machine with a browser. The team can also hold fully-threaded discussions, share documents with check-in, check-out, and version control. The Workgroup verison of eProject is only $19.95 per person per month and I have used it to support companies with up to 50 active projects. The newest version, Enterprise, allows teams to track and report on large enterprises. They have added Dynamic Applications (mini-databases) to Enterprise edition to allow a project manager or administrator to create small applications on the fly with web entry forms. The form can be attached to any website and the user doesn't even have to hav a license. Check out www.eproject.com.
Mark, nice post and replies. I agree with you and I would only add that PM Portals seem to be moving away from content repositories to process based collaboration platforms in support of execution and communication of project portfolio management (PPM). Though some of the PPM tools are providing more collaboration functionality, many organizations are seeking to use and standardize on their existing collaboration platforms such as Microsoft SharePoint, IBM Lotus, etc, rather than take in limited in function, tool imbedded, platforms. Cheers. -- Mark Perry, VP of Customer Care, BOT International
As John Fillicetti works for eProject. I'd say his comments are a bit biased.
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