13 Feb 2003 andrewgilmartin   » (Journeyer)

Once upon a time, long long ago, I once asked a toy maker how he could use an online tool to facilitate communication between all parties involved in building a toy. (If the toy is a girl doll that talks then you have clothing designers, mold makers, mechanical engineers (the leg bone is connected to the thigh bone, etc), embedded systems engineers, toy brokers or companies, parts suppliers, etc. There is a long list of specialists.) He told me that he would not use it. The reason it added another means of communication to the project. And further, the communication did not allow for the transfer of all the artifacts of the project -- examples of molded pieces for example. His current modes of communication worked well for him and his business. Telephone calls where handled by his assistant, postal mail came once a day at 1pm, and FedEx came once a day at 11am. These where the points in his day when the vast majority of people working on the project contacted him. His day was thus mostly uninterrupted time with which he could concentrate on the project at hand.

The principles here are that the tools should not add another mode of communication and should not frequently interrupt your day. Most tools out there do both. (Software folk seem to be obsessed with the clock inside their computer.)

In my office text email and instant messaging (im) are the tools of choice. To facilitate projects in my office a tool should allow communication via email and im. For example, want yesterday's project signature (used with scrum development) send a simple request to a chat-bot via im and have it return the signature via email (or perhaps a URL in the im response). For example, expect to receive a project status summary in email each morning between 7am and 9am.

Most tools want you to be in the tool's interface. I want my project management tools to be in my communication interface.

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