MS Outlook, Email, Tasks, Google Wave?

November 25, 2009

I had an interesting meeting the other week. Demo’ed our new product to a director of project management at one pharmaceutical company and tried to learn about his challanges at the same time.

The most interesting discovery was the following:

Reading e-mails and distilling project information for inclusion in project plans is a major part of what project managers do these days.

How about that? Surprised? Maybe not. Now, think of your favorite project management solution (MS Project), even one of those new web-based ones (Clarizen, Zoho, BasecampHQ, …). Do they solve this “email management/organization” problem for project managers?

Microsoft seems to realize the issue  better than anyone else then? Because MS Outlook does try to provide a solution here by integrating Email & Tasks. Although their approach is again a bit incomplete, the personal planning part is kind of missing (well, they want you to use MS Project for that I guess). But MS Project’s “command-and-control” model, I am afraid, is not going to fly. In the time of social networking, teams seem to be looking for more de-centralized approaches.

Google also seems to have realized that the email clients we use dont cut it anymore. How many times do you find yourself looking for an email message in your Inbox that had some short but quite important comment relevant to an active project? You know it is there but it is just not  easily accessible, maybe already archived by MS Outlook and gone. First, the Gmail threading email organization and now Google Wave make alot of sense to me. I think such email channels would also make alot of sense for project managers. Imagine if each request listed in your project plan had this email channel associated with it, and you could easily see all relevant email communication in it? Wouldn’t that improve productivity significantly?


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