Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Overbooked Tasks and Overallocated Resources

My hats off to the engineering folks at TeamDirection for rethinking and reimplementing the 'Show Overbooked' filter in IntelliGantt. Very slick!

With my remaining hats, I doff them to our customers that took the time to give their feedback and help improve the product for everyone. Let's just say folks had a few ideas on how to better this feature.

The result plays very well with IntelliGantt's improved multi-project viewing architecture. In fact, touching on a the 'Sum is greater than the Parts' theme, it's really two different systems playing very well together-- Multi-Project View and Task Filtering. Each can be used by itself, but together these two systems solve two rather severe limitations the old product had in identifying overbooked tasks and overallocated resources:

1) In V3 only projects within a single folder could have the filter applied
2) In V3 the filter only went to 'day' granularity. That is, if a task was less than 1 day or a resource was less than 100% utilized... well... version 4 is here!

With IntelliGantt V4 you can select any combination of projects you want, which should be very helpful when verifying that all the places you put your 'best woman for the job' are still in the same space-time continuim.

And of course, since IntelliGantt 4 supports 'level of effort' per assignment, the filter also does a bit a match and recognizes that less than a day is ok.

Click on the image for the screencast and, if you really want to see IntelliGantt 4 in action, use this link to try it out yourself.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Warmer and More Efficient

We had to replace our natural gas furnace recently-- funny how that happens when a foot of snow falls-- and given that our old furnace was just a couple days under 20 we opted to go with a high efficiency replacement. I admit to being a tad skeptical by nature and all the claims of '95% Efficiency' seemed very much like EPA mileage estimates. But we did it anyway, deciding on a Trane 95XV which also has a variable two-speed fan.

I just happened to pay my gas bill today and happened to see last weeks gas usage on my online statement. It looks like this:

Guess which day last week we replaced the furnace? :)

And this is during our deep freeze when the temperature reached a cool (for the Pacific Northwest) 15 degrees Farenheit.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Export Microsoft Project Tasks to SharePoint

We covered importing tasks from SharePoint in to Microsoft Project. Now it's time to go the other way, as any flexible solution should-- exporting your tasks from Microsoft Project to SharePoint.

There are many benefits to this of course, from a high level benefit like keeping everyone on the same project page to a low level benefit like creating schedules in MS Project because it can simply be done faster than creating tasks in SharePoint. TeamDirection, and most likely Microsoft, thinks those desktop apps are still good for something!

In truth, sharing, importing and exporting are variations on a theme-- how best to 1) create and manage a schedule and 2) inform the team and solicit feedback. IntelliGantt's goal is to make it as easy as possible to move tasks to and from desktop products and collaborative products. In this case, with our IntelliGantt Add In, between Microsoft Project and SharePoint.

MS Project does at least one million great things-- but its not so good at being collaborative. SharePoint is an excellent collaborative environment-- but its not so good at creating project schedules.

One of our customers is a hospital that uses SharePoint extensively for exactly the right reasons. They want a common, known area for groups to view their important items of the day. They want individuals to be able to update those items and everyone to see the results.

The issue they were running in to was they needed a full time administrative assistant to merge the changes from MS Project and SharePoint together and keep the mpp file and the task list in sync. To do this would sometimes take up to one week!

With IntelliGantt, we brought it down to one click that the project manager could do on their own. The result was the administrative assistant's time was freed up, the project manager was empowered and the staff was confident that what they were seeing was up-to-date and that their changes were being captured.

We'd be happy to help your team too with our IntelliGantt Add In for Microsoft Project.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Importing SharePoint Tasks with MS Project

Which came first, the task in Microsoft Project or the task in SharePoint? We don't know either, so we made IntelliGantt just as smart importing tasks from SharePoint to MS Project as it is exporting and synchronzing them.

You can judge for yourself with the simple, informative screencast we made. The first question to ask is whether you want to just import tasks and be done with it, or if you want to import tasks AND remember where they came from. Thankfully, we don't know the answer once again, so IntelliGantt does both.

There's a compelling scenario for just importing tasks. For example, say you have 5 different task lists in SharePoint that have magically sprouted (these things happen!) and you'd like to consolidate them in to one SharePoint task list-- the fancy one with the Gantt chart. IntelliGantt can start from a single MS Project sheet and import many SharePoint task lists-- appending as they go. The result is those five SharePoint task lists of 10 items can turn in to a single MS Project plan of fifty tasks. Then you can then share it to a new task list with the permissions and features you need to manage the project.

The scenario for importing tasks in to MS Project and mainting the link to the SharePoint task list is straightforward-- that once simple SharePoint task list kept growing until it needed scheduling attention (your professional help). As you'll see in the demo, maintaining the link to SharePoint is as simple as clicking on a checkbox.

Given these two scenarios, there's really not a right answer or wrong answer-- just a both answer.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Project Managablement

I think we've all been on the project that takes 100% of our time and effort. How do you cope with the 10 others that require a mere 99%?

One of IntelliGantt's most popular features was multi-project view support. We've listened to your suggestions over the past year and have greatly improved the user experience. The end result is working with multiple projects is much more managable.

Before you had a free floating organizer with free floating windows for every project. This made it more difficult to keep track of everything. IntelliGantt has a new self-contained paradigm where all your projects are listed in a tree control on the left and your 'active projects' are on the right.

What's an active project? In the tree view, every project has a simple checkbox by it. If there's a check, its active and visible in the active view. If there's no check, its not active (ie. visible). Click a project to see it, click it again to make it disappear-- click the folder to bring all its children in to view.

In addition to making it very easy to flip in and out of projects, it also increases the power of our built-in filters. You can apply filters based on task properties and resources to many projects at once, make edits and turn the whole mishigosh in to a single, managable view.

IntelliGantt makes it easy. Check out the screencast for more.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Collaborating on Projects in a Cloud

Are projects in a cloud a good thing?

Most definitely.

Chances are very good you have a File Server handy to work on projects with colleagues. Your organization might even be lucky enough to have SharePoint available for rich collaboration and reporting. However, there are an awful lot of folks who need to communicate outside the corporate firewall (so no Local Workgroup) and don't have SharePoint available (either as an extranet or via a hosted provider).

In this case IntelliGantt helps a project manager work with a team across the internet by using Cloud Services (in our case, Amazon Simple Storage Solutions). Perhaps the coolest thing about this option is all you need is a client computer, an email address and an Internet connection. IntelliGantt (and Amazon) takes care of the rest.

After you create a project, schedule it and assign tasks, IntelliGantt let's you invite other people by a simple email. An IntelliGantt invitation invites them to the project. If they're a member, they can join and see the exact same view as other members in the project.

It's not done by smoke and mirrors-- it's a Cloud :)

This solution represents a realized vision of Software + Services. It's really no different than pointing a browser to a web site except for one important fact: The project data you are working with is on your machine.

This means you have a copy of it local, so you don't need to be connected to the internet in order to work. But more importantly, its really easy to integrate with your other Office applications.

If you're interested in seeing how IntelliGantt can connect team members with a cloud, you can try it out with a fully functional 15 day evaluation today.

Friday, December 05, 2008

What I Would Do With One Trillion Dollars

It seems to be the question of the day. Well, the very first question seems to be 'How much money do we need to solve the economic problem?' US$1,000,000,000,000 seems as good a starting place as any other amount.

So, should we:

a) Give a few large chunks to a few large companies that have failed because they are too big to fail?

b) Give many small chunks to many small companies, improve the odds that a number of small businesses can do a better job than a couple gigantic businesses and restart competition?

Its instructive to look at the last time a similar situation demanded evolutionary thinking. No, I'm not talking the 1930s.

I'm talking 63,000,000 BC, right before that meteor struck and nature had a choice: save the dinosaurs or give mammals a chance.

We've seen the financial meteor hit. Rather then pour US$1,000,000,000,000 into that impact crater, how about the Small Business Administration? Want US$10,000,000 to start a new bank? Great. And there would be money left over for 100,000 more. Think Tesla could use a few more dollars to bring its car to market? How about James Fallow's Day Jet ideal? Even my brother once looked in to starting his own credit card company.

Wasn't it a good thing that mammals got an opportunity?