In today’s globally diverse culture doing the same old thing leaves us with mediocre results. While many applications and software solutions have evolved to address some of our more global needs, there are reasons you might want to consider trying truly cloud based solutions. Here we will explore some valid reasons to take your projects to the cloud and then introduce some user friendly solutions that won’t break the bank.
One of the challenges faced by global project teams is the varying capabilities of our IT solutions. I have always been a fan of MS project. Microsoft has done a great job evolving to meet complicated project needs. However, one challenge remains. Every user must have minimum capabilities to run the application. This limitation is virtually non-existent with cloud based solutions. Anyone with access to the internet can collaborate with your project team.
Sometimes the greatest weakness of an application is its strengths. Layered applications meet the diverse needs of many users and complex corporate projects. Unfortunately, learning to navigate the layers and efficiently using the software requires training at best and experience at least. In the cloud you will find many solutions that are developed with specific project types in mind. I have been involved with projects that just did not merit the use of MS Project. A simplified solution like LessProjects (more later) helps clarify team communication and track progress.
Of course, cost is always a consideration when choosing a Project Management application. If your projects are very diverse you may find it impossible to budget for numerous solutions needed to accommodate your needs. In this case cloud solutions come in every shape and size.
Project Management software, basically, offers four things:
- Ease of Communication
- Activity Tracking
- Resource Tracking
One of the greatest benefits of nearly all cloud solutions is the accessibility of information, which makes communication more efficient. In most cases, the entire team can see in real-time when an activity is updated or a resource is made available. Because users can access project data and post updates remotely, there is less need for meetings. Meetings are more efficient because team members are better informed throughout the project lifecycle.
Improved communication means less conflict, fewer surprises, and better crisis response when needed. The ability to communicate across departments empowers more cost effective resource sharing. The ease of updating team members on the fly helps reduce lost time caused by crisis and unforeseen challenges.
As a result of better collaboration it is easier to schedule and reschedule activities and needed resources throughout the project. Every project can benefit from software that increases results through tracking. The following low to no cost cloud solutions are easy to implement and meet the needs we’ve defined here:
www.lessprojects.com This first cloud based solution is probably the simplest and most effective I’ve used for small to medium sized projects. You can create multiple projects managed easily from one place, create project tasks (called iterations), phases, and manage users and all resources for every project. You can even invite clients to monitor project’s progress.
Create users for each project and assign tasks. You can see reports based on each user’s progress and easily keep track of everyone’s work. Tasks can be assigned a status and priority, of low, medium, or high. Project tasks can be sorted according to priority, and values may be assigned to each priority level. Managing teams couldn’t be easier. The user interface is easy to navigate and anyone can be up and running in a single meeting demonstrating the application.
www.web2project.net Web2project is a free open source application that can be hosted securely on your servers. This benefit offers more security, whether perceived or real and creates the opportunity to customize the interface.
Some of the key features of web2Project are:
- A secure web-based infrastructure capable of managing any number of projects, companies, departments and users
- A one-stop shop for all project information
- Role-based permission system to give the Project Manager fine-grained control over sensitive data
- Project and group-wide Gantt Charts
- A unified calendar (with iCalendar support) – showing all relevant tasks and events
- A modular infrastructure which allows the addition or removal of modules to customize the features according to your requirements.
www.pivotaltracker.com is an ultra simple project management solution especially suited for IT projects and software development. The Agile methodology is practical and universal. Accelerate agile adoption with a simple, proven process. Bring everyone into the same virtual room. Enable a more efficient way to agree on priorities and collaborate with the team. Supercharge your agile teams with focused, real time collaboration.
The sky is virtually the limit. So, take your projects to another level with cloud computing.
By: Bill “The Builder” Carpenter has more than twenty years of project management experience. He has hands on project leadership experience as well as ten years of experience as a project management trainer. He has authored over a dozen books and audio programs. He is available for keynotes and web based training. He teaches practical applications of MS Project, MS Office and cloud computing solutions.