Whenever I see a social application like the Trilog Group’s ProjExec 5.0, I wish that enterprise 2.0 applications were available back when I was managing projects at a large consulting firm. I recently spoke with Alex Homsi and Randy Washington at the Trilog Group about this application. ProjExec 5.0 provides social project management for IBM social software. This is a useful extension as the IBM social software is more focused on collaboration. The benefit works both ways as project management is becoming increasingly collaborative so the IBM suite offers a great set of supporting capabilities to ProjExec.
I know from personal experience that old school project management tools tend to be difficult to use and, even worse, they often put project teams in straight jackets. They require people to conform to the tools, rather than the reverse. On top of these issues the old school tools are usually siloed which is increasingly a problem in today’s connected enterprise. ProjExec addresses all these issues quite nicely.
Alex said we need to empower middle managers to directly run projects and not have them be dependent on project management technicians. A project defines a community so a project manager is also a community manager. The community manager needs to also leverage expertise from the broader enterprise to fill out a team or get advice. Building a project management capability today requires integration with community management and collaboration tools.
ProjExec uses the IBM social business tools in several ways. SameTime supports collaboration. Quickr provides content management and team collaboration. Connections offers activity management and resource management and WebSphere Portal Server enables cross-enterprise application connections. These tools are all extended through templates within ProjExec.
Alex provided a useful demo that illustrated how these integrations work in the context of project management. As he noted, these social tools make project management transparent so newer employees can learn from the masters.
ProjExec scales to large complex projects by providing a web-based Gantt tool, which can be sync’ed roundtrip with MS Project or any desktop scheduling tool, integrated into a Lotus Quickr place. ProjExec Enterprise edition includes enterprise project management modules, such as Financial Management, Issues Management, Time Management and Change Management, while providing the means for PMO’s, Project Managers, and Project Team members to manage themselves. Below is a sample screen shoot of the Gantt chart function.
Rigor is maintained as reminders are automatically sent out when these individuals do not update their tasks in a timely manner. There is an activity stream Trilog refers to, Facebook style, as the Project Wall. This provides much of the transparency as team member actions auto-generate entries in the Project Wall for others to see. You can embed documents, videos, and other media in the activity stream. You can reorganize your documents and the links will remain effective. You can see a sample Project Wall below.
ProjExec also simplifies access to project information and tools by providing a Web 2.0 widget for Lotus Notes or MS Outlook sidebar.
There is also a common calendar where individuals can see all of their projects and update task progress within that same view. It can also sync with their personal Lotus Notes calendar. Notes can be added to calendar items.
ProjExec has mobile capabilities and this is becoming increasingly essential for any business application. There is support for Blackberry, iPhone/iPad, Nokia, and Android. After this year ProjExec will integrate with Lotus Live to allow projects to be pushed into the cloud.
I was impressed with the capabilities within ProjExec and its seamless integration with the Lotus social business tools. It also fills a missing link in the IBM tool set.