At Projectplace, we have always regarded projects to be social networks and our software-as-a-service software tools for project management have been designed based on that insight. While most other suppliers of software tools for project management insist on on providing detailed work planning and control mechanisms, we focus our attention on supporting communication within the project, and with project stakeholders. We believe, indeed we insist, that the key to project success is to help people share information and manage their commitments.
During the past year we have been hard at work modernising the web-client architecture in the system to enable development of a delightful look-and-feel and new advanced usage models for rapid navigation and easy interaction. But the most significant change of the Projectplace system are the ways in which we support project management. We are designing a new kind of social tools to help the project manager engage project stakeholders and team members in a collaborative planning process. You can experience some of these upcoming enhancements in the Customer Preview which is launched on 20 March 2012.
We strongly believe that the people who execute project work should be the ones planning it. Details in the plan should be refined by project members most familiar with the challenges at hand – at a time when those details are needed. Toyota named this principle The Last Planner Rule forty years ago and this has been a fundamental principle within Lean Management and modern production methods ever since.
Collaborative planning increases the chances of running a successful project. Why? Involving the stakeholders in the planning helps them prioritise and articulate the purpose of the project, and its most fundamental goals. Involving the team in project planning helps the team members understand what the project is all about. If a project manager single-handedly does all the detailed planning, the plan will more than likely be pure speculation and it will be difficult for others to understand it. Consequently, the people supposed to execute the plan will not be truly committed to it.
Action Creates Clarity
In the Customer Preview, we are introducing the first version of an important new planning tool, Actions. The purpose of this tool is to empower the project team to break down project goals into actionable items that team members can make firm commitments to. The time horizon in this kind of planning is typically a week or a month. The Actions tool allows the project team to co-ordinate work in real time by making highly visible commitments to each other; it is social and it is interactive. The tool allows project work to be grouped onto Planning Boards suitable for visualisation of work progress and that lend themselves beautifully for high-resolution screens and tablets. You will see more of that going forward.
We have also created a completely new Project Overview containing a new interactive and informative project timeline that clearly puts the overall project goals in full view. And inspired by modern behavioural science, we now also provide configurable progress widgets designed to increase project advancement by promoting transparent conversations on current status, deliverables and stage goals.
Only Getting Started
The Customer Preview on 20 March is definitely not the end of our efforts in the areas I have covered in this post. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is the end of the beginning of a new generation Projectplace tools for Social Project Management!