September 11, 2012

It’s been a while since I posted anything here. It seems these days it’s much easier to  post one-liner in twitter or G+ rather than write a blog post.

Just wanted to post some quick updates here:

  1. Alot of time and energy invested into developing email conversation discovery and tracking for our Yoxel Personal desktop app did not go to waste (we stopped developing the app). The engine has found its better place within our cloud based service Yoxel Portal. CRM users love it: http://www.google.com/enterprise/marketplace/search?query=yoxel
  2. Some interesting ideas are discussed in our UserVoice forum now. Check out this one, for example, a sync mode that turns Basecamp tasks into Google Calendar events: https://yoxel.uservoice.com/forums/157147-general/suggestions/3105244-sync-hr-bc-tasks-as-google-calendar-events
  3. I’ve been experimenting with tinyletter.com, quite an interesting idea, which could be used as an alternative to blogging actually. Here is my subscription link if you care to read my nonsense 🙂

This is it for now.

-Cheers

 

 

Our user has commented nicely about Yoxel Personal sync in this Basecamp Answers thread (see last comment)  https://answers.37signals.com/basecamp/2534-outlook-task-integration

Just want to add here that we can do the same now for Zoho Projects: http://yoxel.com/zoho-project-management.html  Huddle connector is also coming.

Plus, we’re testing our contacts sync for Highrise and Google app: http://yoxel.com/highrise-synchronization.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Somehow I could not add my comment to this question so I decided to respond in my own blog 🙂

Is there a todo list manager with both a desktop software and on online interface for collaboration?

Check out Yoxel PCM – Basecamp Integration : You can manage email conversations/threads, link your toods to them, plan todos accurately with the unique work-hours calendar, and keep track of request commitments that you make.

Enjoy!

-Alexey

A while back I posted a digest/review of a research paper on the theory of project management. It was an attempt to make it easy to read but I think it may still look like it is too much to digest. So I want to pick it apart more and discuss here just one problem:

The current model is basically represented by a non-cyclical network graph in which each activity connects directly into its immediate successors.  Such a model fails to account for uncertainty in production process, which affects time as well as interdependencies between tasks.

So the the non-cyclical network graph model (think MS project / GANTT chart model) is a big flaw by itself. So much of our work on projects is cyclical actually. You worked on a task and then you worked on it more, and then someone found a bug, and you worked on it again.

The bigger challenge is the fact that new tasks come about every day and the graph constantly changes. The creative process of working on a task or collaborating with others will produce more intermediate tasks, guaranteed! To make your project status visible and clear you have to somehow keep capturing all these new tasks. I don’t think there are very good solutions available for this.

As these new tasks come and go, a bunch everyday, the key to capturing them would be the simplicity of entering them into your PM system. Very few systems made it simple for people to do that. One good example is probably 37signals’ Basecamp, their motto is simplicity and I think it really helps in capturing these “newly born” tasks. Although this works only if your whole team is very disciplined, as it still requires a login into the project portal every time you need to register a new todo.

I believe a better way would be a close email integration. So many of these “newly born” todos are communicated in email to begin with. So, that is where you need to capture them right away, without requiring to log into the project portal throughout the day and typing the same data one more time. I even think MS Outlook/Entourage got it, as they have implemented ‘follow-up/todo’ flag for email messages which turns them into tasks. But I am quite unhappy with their implementation. I don’t like one-to-one message-to-task relationship. Plus once they have created all these tasks they have not provided a convenient way for people to plan and manage them, in my opinion (well, they really want you to use MS Project for that).

I think you need to have a desktop app to implement the convenient email integration. Basecamp does not offer much in this regard as they are purely web-based plus their view on email integration is different.

What we have done with Yoxel PCM is we first have separated the following two concepts: requests and tasks. Requests are what is communicated in emails (people asking you to do something or you ask them to do something, deliverables really), and tasks are personal todos (what you think you need to do to satisfy the request, what you plan to come up with request commitment dates).

You really want to manage a whole conversation (email thread), not isolated messages (not every email is a request requiring a task), to identify requests in it and track them. Conversations usually go though these stages: started, exchanging ideas, request identified, owner identified, planning&committing, work collaboration, done. Neither MS Outlook nor Entourage allow you manage the whole conversation from start to finish. I think Google Wave was on the right path though. Then you link your personal tasks to the conversation (to the request discussed in the conversation for which you’re responsible). Well, this makes more sense to me. It makes it easier to trace from task to request/deliverable to conversation and back. Also as you focus on conversations rather than individual email messages this allows to organize them better and move the multitude of the messages exchanged under the umbrellas of the conversations (think GMail email threading).

I dont believe email is going away, I personally like the distributed email model very much. I just think new generation email management systems need to be developed to provide better collaboration experience.

-Cheers