Monday, October 29, 2007

A Partnership with Bamboo Solutions

TeamDirection is very pleased to have inked a partnership agreement with Bamboo Solutions. We provide desktop connectivity to SharePoint. Bamboo offers a wealth of web parts to enhance your SharePoint experience.

We will soon be making 'Project Share for IntelliGantt' available for everyone. Pricing for the web parts and site templates will be determined by Bamboo, with TeamDirection able to resell and support it.

What will Project Share for IntelliGantt do?

The Project.Share Productivity Pack includes three of Bamboo's most popular Web Parts: Calendar Plus, List Rollup and Alert Plus. These three Web Parts together are used in many organizations today to allow SharePoint users to effectively manage their projects. Providing features such as:

* Ability to aggregate multiple project tasks from multiple project lists into a single view
* Ability to display the project tasks in a single calendar with color coding
* Allows users to manage effective alerts when a tasks is about due or overdue

This is right on the heels of our partnership with Softalot and their GanttPoint solution. TeamDirection is very pleased the complementary nature of our desktop-based solutions combined with SharePoint solutions is being recognized by leading vendors in the SharePoint market.

If you have a web part or two, solve a piece of the project management pie and would like to showcase it, contact us at TeamDirection. We are enhancing our SharePoint Solutions page to include web part and template offerings from our partners.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

IntelliGantt SharePoint Web Parts

[21 February 2011 Update - We now have the IntelliGantt Web Part available for SharePoint 2007 and SharePoint 2010]

We've had a huge response to the release of our boffo customization of SharePoint Task Lists. Our accountant had some work to do last week! Expect to see a few TeamDirection IntelliGantt ads to start popping up here and there-- all very tasteful and informative, of course.

But we're not done yet!

We have a new product in BETA testing geared strictly for SharePoint. If you haven't noticed, business are really responding to the value proposition of SharePoint. TeamDirection has certainly noticed, and we are proud to let you know of a new set of web parts for your SharePoint server that work with IntelliGantt.

The goal? Project rollups of course.

IntelliGantt has provided the plumbing from your desktop to SharePoint, now its getting ready to fill the aqueducts and let the information across all your projects flow to your team. Here is a page introducing the GanttPoint web parts you can deploy on your SharePoint server that automatically finds IntelliGantt projects you've published and aggregates them in one view-- personalized for the current user.

The really great thing about this solution? TeamDirection worked with a great new partner to bring it to you-- a project management company also here in Seattle, Softalot LLC. With IntelliGantt on the desktop and Softalot on the server, its a natural way for both of us to bring our strengths to the table for a better comprehensive solution for you.

You can also expect another exciting announcement with another great SharePoint solution provider in the very near future.

Monday, October 22, 2007

IntelliGantt Custom Fields for SharePoint Released

We posted the release to the servers last night with the new features that many people have been asking for. The biggest by far is the ability to work with over 70 custom fields in your SharePoint task list.

Whether you're using IntelliGantt Plus or the IntelliGantt Add In for MS Project, now those 30 Text fields, 20 Number fields, 10 Cost fields and 10 Date fields can be added dynamically to the SharePoint task list you publish. What's more, you can control the synchronization switches for each field. For example, you might have one field support two-way synchronization, while other fields are only published to SharePoint. Best of all, you can make these changes at runtime, so you may start out with a 2-way field and then later make it publish only.

Let's say a project manager can publish a simple project and enable Start Date and Due Date as 2-way synchronizable. Team members can then put their scheduling $.02 in and collaboratively adjust the timeline. When the project manager wants to set the schedule 'in stone', he or she can call up the IntelliGantt Collaboration Settings and change the Start Date and Due Date fields to publish only.

We have a screencast with IntelliGantt Plus and a screencast with the Microsoft Project Add In showing custom fields in action.

We think this will help shepherd projects through their many phases-- from collaborative planning to collaborative updating. Furthermore, with IntelliGantt's rich custom field support, you can now model your projects with your company's nomenclature and keep everyone on the same page, using the same terminology, that much better.

Finally, TeamDirection is investing a bit more in to SharePoint and its offerings. We've just opened a SharePoint section to the site that will expand in the days and weeks ahead to show how best to maximize this great collaboration platform.

Monday, October 15, 2007

IntelliGantt Synchronization with Outlook and SharePoint

Many people don't realize there is a great synchronization feature available to keep your tasks on track with MOSS 2007 and Outlook 2007. If you spend your day within MS Outlook, are constantly on the go or just simply like working on the desktop more than through your web browser, then check out how easy it is to bring the SharePoint task list to you.

Say your project manager has scheduled out a few tasks on a SharePoint site. He or she may have used a tool like IntelliGantt to quickly publish a project, invited SharePoint members to the site and is now expecting these tasks to get done. If you'd rather work with them in Outlook, here's how:

First, on the SharePoint site, go to the task list in question and select 'Connect to Outlook'. Remember, this is an Office 2007 only feature.

MS Outlook pops up a dialog asking if you really want to do this.

If you say yes, Outlook goes and gets the SharePoint task list data and creates a view for you.

But its much more than a simple import. Outlook remembers where these tasks came from. As a result, you can edit these tasks and the changes will be synchronized back to SharePoint. The really cool thing is, because Outlook is on your PC, you can unplug from the office, go about your day, update on the move and Outlook will take care of the rest-- synchronizing your changes back to that SharePoint task list.

We use a similar philosophy with our IntelliGantt Add In for MS Project. Much like the Outlook to SharePoint connection, TeamDirection connects MS Project to SharePoint and lets the project manager have this feature too.

In many ways its even more powerful for the project manager because not only do they receive everyone's updates within the MS Project plan, they also can easily make schedule changes with a real project management tool. For example, it's much easier to reset the start date of a project and let a scheduling engine do the work of updating all the task changes then doing it by hand with a click-happy web browser.

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Perfect Graphic for that AH! Moment

You know the moment I'm talking about-- the one where a mystery has been cleared up for you. I usually experience after I've been trying 1023 permutations of the wrong way to do something. Maybe you receive a cryptic email from tech-support that tangentially applies to the question at hand, but seems like an accident. Perhaps you've wondered why everyone was going the wrong way on a street except you. You might have even wondered what compelled that person sitting next to you to eat your cookies.

And then it's magically explained and the 'Ah!' moment occurs.

I'm pleased to present the Ah! graphic:

Feel free to pass it around so everyone can share the moment :)

Monday, October 08, 2007

SharePoint MVP Community

There is an interesting information resource forming around SharePoint that fellow MVP Bob Mixon is spearheading-- the SharePoint Beagle Newsletter. My understanding is the Beagle will be a conduit for SharePoint MVPs to share with everyone their opinions and experiences on real-life SharePoint solutions.

When you look at the the profiles of every SharePoint MVP, its a bit humbling-- to the point where you ask yourself 'what can I bring to the group?' Well, TeamDirection does know project management in a collaborative environment. I'd love to contribute an article explaining how you can turn a WSS 2.0 or WSS 3.0 server into a real project management solution. (cue writer's block :)

I know Groove did an internal study a few years ago and found over 50% percent of their customers used Groove for project management. I can't point to a specific study, but anecdotal evidence is making me think similar percentages are at work with SharePoint as well.

And I have to think IntelliGantt, of any non-Microsoft application, is in the top 10 for exploiting SharePoint web services. Sharing our trials and travails getting web services to reliably work with WSS 2.0 and WSS 3.0, while maybe not quite as gripping as The DaVinci Code, should certainly be interesting.

I look forward to sharing our experiences and learning so much more from the SharePoint MVP group. Instead of the proverbial firehose, the Beagle looks like a great way to get started.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

IntelliGantt and SharePoint Help a Boatbuilder

Unsolicited testimonials are always the best. Unsolicited testimonials you find and share with the group are even better.

Thorwald Westmaas was searching for a better way to share projects (tasks, schedules, content, etc) the other day when he found TeamDirection and SharePoint. Not a project manager by trade (but an excellent boatbuilder judging by his blog), Thorwald was able to quickly get IntelliGantt Plus running with a hosted SharePoint provider and begin publishing projects.

With our team members, vendors and other stakeholders in 7 different countries, an online data repository with workflow and project management tools is a great aid to keep this conversion project on track.

From not knowing about IntelliGantt Plus or SharePoint to up and running in a day, Thorwald was able to solve his project management/collaboration issues and get back to his real task-- planning his next expedition.

Monday, October 01, 2007

I'm a SharePoint MVP!

Talk about a nice surprise.

I knew I was nominated, but I never figured I'd actually receive a SharePoint MVP award. Of course, I doubt there are too many people not working at Microsoft that know as much about SharePoint and Groove web services and behavior as yours truly. What's more, all of that knowledge has been earned the hard way-- making it work for shipping products.

Call me a curmudgeon still living in the past 5 years, but I actually believe people are just starting to deduce both the benefits of desktop/web synergy and the best way to go about it. In fact, I think the interaction between the desktop and web applications (way beyond the generic web browser) will define the next 5 years or so of computing. Well, that and virtual machines.

So how strong a position is Microsoft in for the next 5 years? Well, they have the best collaboration platforms (SharePoint and Groove), a strong web service strategy and quite possibly the best (potential) virtual machine with .NET.

It's nice to know they like me too :)

Thank you to whomever nominated me and to April over at Microsoft. I really appreciate it.

IntelliGantt Enhances SharePoint Integration

TeamDirection will be releasing a beta (most likely on Oct 2.) of its newest version of IntelliGantt, IntelliGantt Plus and IntelliGantt Add In for MS Project. Over the next week or so I'll be highlighting some of the cool features specific to every collaboration platform, but the one we're most excited about I'm happy to preview first.

In the 'old' IntelliGantt days, you could publish tasks to a SharePoint task list, but the range of fields was limited to the defaults SharePoint provided. And, of course, you could update the % complete and notes, but nothing else.

We just made project management with SharePoint a whole lot more powerful. Check this out:

If you're asking what that is, the answer is its all the fields you can now create, use, modify and synchronize. Thirty text fields. Twenty number fields. Ten cost and date/time fields. And each field is customizable-- set the display name you prefer, add a helpful comment and even set whether the fields supports 2-way synchronization or not.

We put together a short 'enhanced SharePoint' screencast to show it off. This barely touches on the extent of the functionality, but we couldn't wait. A couple things that aren't obvious in the screencast:

1) You can changed the synchronization settings at any time. For example, you may want to start out by giving SharePoint users the ability to update task start and finish dates, but once the project gets going, you can unclick the 'From SharePoint' setting for Start Date and Due Date. This puts the project manager in full control of the schedule.

2) You don't have to share every field that you use. You may use Text1 for Client Code, as we do in the demo, but you can also use Text2 as 'Super Secret' in IntelliGantt Plus and NOT share that to SharePoint. This can be very handy with those cost fields.

3) We will be publishing all the field names we are using so that 3rd party web part developers can take advantage of this feature. We feel this lays the foundation for a real workflow system based on the customized fields your business needs to run.

And finally, these settings are available even after you share a project to SharePoint.

Better yet, you can save any project published to SharePoint as a template that will include the collaboration settings as well.

We look forward to introducing more about this release in the days ahead.