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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

We have uploaded a fresh build of Yoxel PCM that now can connect to Basecamp. You can now visually manage (plan&track) your todo items and Yoxel PCM will auto generate and log time tracking entries for you.

Read more about this new capability here.