PM and Collaborate

Peter : On Rad's Radar?
| Peter Radizeski of RAD-INFO, Inc. talking telecom, Cloud, VoIP, CLEC, and The Channel.

PM and Collaborate

Having worked on committees, I can tell you that email and listserv usage make for a really challenging way to run a project. Now that I am in Chicago managing an MPLS migration, I realize that Microsoft doesn't have decent tools for this either. Outlook and MS Project help to schedule stuff and create a time-line, but when you want to look at spreadsheets or other docs, it's still cumbersome.

I have used a Wiki, which wasn't perfect, but it has a version manager, so you know what changed and by whom.

Yahoo Groups is pretty good for the communications side of things, because it contains a listserv, an archive, a schedule, a file storage section. Yet, Y! is a pita to get people without Yahoo emails signed up. And it still doesn't do anything for document version management. Collaboration is a tough thing.

Emily Chang's Hub points out new apps every day. ( and points them out too). Emily has pointed me to STIXY, which is an online collaboration tool. (Free in beta). The invite people and version management are good. The GUI is like setting up Blogger. I have not gotten too deep with Stixy yet. (You have to get the team to buy in to using something they are not familiar with, which come to find out is difficult).

Another app that I have not tried yet is HomeCourt. This app (according to its front page) answers: Who is responsible for what; who said what and when; and where are the files for this project. Not all of it, but the responsibility part is pretty important, not just for CYA, but to find out who is holding up the project. Time is money.

I notice 3 years ago when my brother got his PMP certification, that PM kind of bloomed. However, it is mainly about how to create documentation. As someone not used to that, it is a cumbersome process (and truth be told, I can not figure out why you would have to spend so many hours just to deliver more status reports.) I guess the gold is in the project detail docs. In my current case, explaining what MPLS is and why it was chosen. How will it be integrated into the current network architecture. Define Class of Service; VLAN's; policies; IP Addressing schema; diagram the network and the NOC. These are documents that many data centers do not have. I can see why they don't (too many man-hours to produce) and why they should (easier to "franchise" the business. IOW, it is knowledge that you want to preserve in your business. When Dan leaves (or dies), what happens to all the knowledge about your network, your gear, your customers???? Gone. How do you replace that? Hence, why documentation is an important piece. (It's still one big hairball to create, but becomes an asset to your business).

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We tried a wiki, freeware and some others but ended up developing a custom app on Intuit's Quickbase platform. Prior to creating our app we had apps ran in silos (Outlook, Excel Spreadsheets, an Access database, Word documents, ACT for contact management). Project management within our company was challenging with these silo'd apps and they certainly didn't let us share information across our workgroup, with clients and carriers in real time.

Our V-Vision app was designed to manage telecom and wireless, and it can be customized so if you come across something that you need it can easily be added. The goal of the app is to enable clients, agents/consultants and carriers to work in real time on complicated projects, like a multi-site MPLS implementation. It includes a centralized repository for documents, tracks MACD's, FOC dates, notes for each site and as the information is updated, say the carrier adds a FOC date to the notes, it automatically e-mails the team members so they're up to date, you can also set reminders for tasks so you can follow up.

Let me know if you want to check it out.

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