Did You Get the Status Report? – Project Management Tools and Communication Capabilities

projectmanagementcycleOne of the key elements (perhaps arguably the key element) of effective project management is proactive and compendious (my little word of the day) communication with all stakeholders involved.  I have been in many situations where I was in charge of multiple streams of work for multiple clients and initiatives.  Keeping things straight in a high intensity environment with multiple klaxons going off makes it difficult to keep issues and stakeholders lined up to be resolved or simply informed.  I came across the following article recently about a project management tool that was supposed to emphasize usability, but there was no mention of integration with diagrammatic (eg. Visio, MindManager) or communication (eg. Outlook, Lotus Notes, Gmail) tools.  Why hasn’t someone come up with this?

I’ve personally seen demonstrations or used the following tools:

but they all serve some subset of functionality that could be addressed by a better integrated and streamlined tool.  Consider the following scenarios:

  • The project is starting up, and you’ve identified all of your stakeholders.  Where does someone set up resource assignments for WBS planning?  Where does someone set up mailing lists for the team?  Where does someone set up collaborative workspaces for documents and deliverables?
  • The project is in flight, and a new resource has joined the team to assist with a new stream of work that arose because of scope changes.  Where does someone make assignment changes on the planned tasks?  How does someone get the person up to speed quickly with his/her respective peers?
  • The project is closing down.  How does someone close a collaborative workspace, draft/issue a final status report, and archive deliverables with a minimum of effort?

In many cases, all of this work is distributed across physical machines, distinct programs, and perhaps even in analog form (as opposed to digital copies).  Managing projects to success should be about the project management, not the tool management.

Recommendation: Combine or integrate:

  1. ad-hoc organizational modeling
  2. sophisticated communications tools
  3. work breakdown structures, and
  4. collaborative workspaces and their deliverables

to foster a project-oriented work environment.  Has anyone seen such a beast?


  1. Andrew

    Seems like Google Wave might be the catalyst for a new round of tightly-integrated project management tools. I love the idea of possibly setting up a Work Breakdown Structure with milestones that automatically suggest nearby dates for all the team members involved and deliverables that are tracked in a ‘wave’ and developed in this kind of an environment.

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