Wednesday, May 22, 2013

IntelliGantt Task Gadget for GMail

We love to integrate with existing platforms here at TeamDirection. Ever since we starting connecting with Google's amazing variety of services, we've been quite busy. Except for one thing-- Google Tasks, as they presently work, are absolutely useless for a group. A project manager simply cannot post a task to someone else's google task list. Thankfully, we did find another way.

TeamDirection is introducing its own GMail task list gadget that is cross device, cross browser and most importantly cross user.

Let's start with IntelliGantt for Google. This is what the project manager will use to create and schedule GMail (and Google Site!) aware projects. Here we are showing a couple projects with three tasks each, one of which is assigned to John.

What we would like to do is put in a 'John aware' task list in the empty area to the lower left marked 'Right Here'.

Thankfully GMail provides a way to do just this in its Settings. Go into Settings, select the 'Labs' tab and enable the 'Add any gadget by URL' option.

This will create a new tab option your Settings screen labeled 'Gadgets'. Select the 'Gadgets' tab and add a gadget by its url using:

When you return to the main GMail window you will now see an IntelliGantt task list in the heretofore empty lower left of the window. Space is a little tight, but IntelliGantt recognizes the logged in user and provides a list of their tasks.

When you finish a task, you can simply mouse click or finger touch in the 'Done' cell.

This marks it as completed in the original project as well so the project manager can see the work getting done.

Users can also make edits to tasks right in place. For example, to change a task's name, mouse click or touch the Display Name cell. This brings up an in-place text editor.

These changes, naturally, also go right back into the project for the manager to see.

There's always more work to do, though. Since John finished his task (and changed its name), the project manager assigns John to another task.

Which John will see right in his GMail window.

We are making the IntelliGantt Task List for GMail freely available. Simply follow the installation steps above and you're off and running. Project managers will need IntelliGantt for Google to create and manage the projects.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

IntelliGantt for Google Sites Gadget

A quick post to let you know we created an IntelliGantt Gadget to make it even easier to place within your Google Sites.

Rather than add an iframe control and configure it, we created a gadget that you just supply the URL to. The URL is:

You still will want to resize thins properly so it fits in your page, but this is a bit easier for placement in Google Sites, or any other spot that accepts gadgets.

Monday, May 20, 2013

IntelliGantt Integration with Google Sites

Perhaps Google Sites were in response to Microsoft SharePoint, which we work with quite a bit. However, now that IntelliGantt for Google is here we've been looking at different ways we can integrate with with Google's myriad platforms. One of the most powerful integration stories is with Google Sites. Why? Well, similar to SharePoint, it:

  • Provides an encapsulation of a work effort-- like a project.
  • Ties in with your Google+ account circles for user lists-- like a resource pool.
  • Starts out private but let's you share with specific people.
  • Is available 24/7.

  • Is free.

So we put our heads together and noticed that with a site and a gadget we can encapsulate IntelliGantt so that only the projects created in the site are visible within IntelliGantt. When you move outside the Google Site, then all your projects are visible. This is a powerful way to provide both context and appropriate visibility to your projects and team members. Let's see how it works.

First we will open IntelliGantt for Google and see if we have any projects globally. It turns out we do-- our Global Project.

Now let's go to Google Sites and create a new Site. You can use any site template within Google's library. Because we focus on project management, we chose the 'Project work site' template for this example, but it could just have easily been 'Spring Floral Wedding Instructionala'. The steps for adding IntelliGantt for Google will be the same.

Now that we have our new Google Site let's edit it so we can insert IntelliGantt for Google and place it on the page. First, we need to start editing the site. Click the pencil to put things in edit mode.

Place the cursor on the page where you want to insert and then click the 'Insert' tab. Choose the last entry called '... More Gadgets'.

Choose the 'Include Gadget (iframe)' gadget.

Now for the trickiest part of the whole process. Really it's just putting the correct url into the 'URL to content (required)' field. It needs to be:

You can play around with the other settings until you find a combination you prefer. After you have completed that Gadget settings page, save and back on the main Google Site save again.

After you have saved the page, Google Sites will fully render the new page and you will see IntelliGantt for Google right where you inserted it.

Here is IntelliGantt for Google, but notice that there are no visible projects. If you harken back to the start of this post you will remember we did have a project named 'Global Project'. Howeever, in this case IntelliGantt is aware it is within a Google Site and has therefore restricted the list of projects to only those created within this site. Because both the site and the IntelliGantt for Google instance is new, we do not see any projects. So let's add one of course.

We have created 'Internal Project' which is now visible to everyone who as access to this Google Site. You can use Google Sites features to share the page with people you pick. However, when you go back to IntelliGantt for Google outside the Google Site, then you will see all the projects.

Here you can use our advanced features like swimlanes to compare resource allocation across multiple projects in various Google Sites.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Getting Started with IntelliGantt and Facebook

After authenticating with Facebook and granting the IntelliGantt app permissions, the first time you see the application page it will be mostly empty with a dialog asking if you want to being your evaluation.

All you have to do is click 'OK' in order to begin the 15 evaluation. Every time you reload the page you will see this 'nag' box again with a message encouraging you to purchase a license, however during the evaluation period you can simply continue to click 'OK'. Once this dialog is closed you have an application with two users (Unassigned and yourself) and no projects.

Create your first project by clicking the '+' next to PROJECTS. This will bring up a dialog with a text box where you type in the project name.

Type in the name and click 'OK'. The new project will be listed in the PROJECTS listbox and automatically selected so that you see it in the task view as well.

Let's add a few tasks to the project. Select the 'First Project' and then click the '+' button on the left side of the task list. This will bring up a multi-function add pane. This let's you add tasks with precision up, down or as a sub task.

You could add a single task and then edit it. Or you can quickly click or touch the 'Child Below' option to add our first series of new tasks.

Each task created starts today and has a two day duration. To edit the task display names left-mouse click or touch the Display Name cell. An in place editor appears letting you type in the new name. This will work for any field you wish to update, simply left-click or touch within the cell to start editing.

Once you have edited all the task names, you may want to change the schedule by adjusting start and finish dates. To do this move your mouse over the task in the Gantt chart or touch the task with your finger. With the mouse option you will see feedback as the mouse moves over the task by the outline turning gray. No such luck with the touch model, you just have to get your finger on it.

Now that you have selected the task (left mouse button down or touch) you can drag left or right to reposition the task on the timeline. Lifting the mouse button or your finger will complete the drag operation. Remember you can undo by clicking the Undo button to the left of the task list if you need to.

You can also change the order of the tasks via drag and drop. Simply left mouse button down or touch the task image in the Display Name column and move it up or down.

To indent or outdent a task, simply hold down the task image next to the Display Name again only this time move left or right.

IntelliGantt Integration with Facebook Send

Facebook has done a fantastic job creating easy ways to send messages about a web page. You've probably seen the 'Like' or 'Send' icons on web pages encouraging user interaction and communication. Since it just so happens IntelliGanttt is all about enhancing interaction and communication too, we took a look at how it could apply to project management.

IntelliGantt for Facebook can pack a lot of information on a single page, so sending a Facebook message about the entire page didn't seem very helpful. However, IntelliGantt also keeps track of what task is currently selected. The ability to send a message about a specific task has value. What's better is that the Facebook Send button let's you select the recipients-- a list of Facebook users or groups. Combined with Facebooks instant messaging platform, now you can push a message to people who have important information about a task. Users who receive this message can simply click on it and be taken to the identified task. Now that is useful. Here's how it works.

You start with a project of course. (Note: I'm using our 'full screen' URL here rather than the URL that embeds IntelliGantt within Facebook. I'll touch on this more in another blog post.)

Great, we've opened IntelliGantt for Facebook and selected a project to view. But where is the send button we mentioned? Good question. We made it contextual for you. Since we are sending a link to the task in the message, you must first select a task.

We have selected the task 'Notifications'. Now the 'Send' button appears in the upper right of the window. IntelliGantt has set the context of the send button to be associated with the 'Notifications' task. Now let's click the button.

You're probably already familiar with Facebook's send message popup, but here are the interesting pieces:

  • A To: field to direct the message. This isn't a blast to all your contacts, this will be a targetted message.
  • A Message: field to address whatever needs addressing about the associated task.
  • A link to the task. This is generated for you by IntelliGantt. When your recipients receive your message they simply click on automatically go to IntelliGantt within Facebook and watch as the right project and task is selected for them.

When all is said and done, your message recipients will see this:

The same application with the same project and task selected so everyone is looking at the same thing. And, maybe best of all, the Facebook messenger window open and ready for more instant communication with the person you need.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

IntelliGantt for Google+

We've been touting our connectivity to Basecamp and Facebook in the last few blog posts, but this time it is Google and their 'Plus' social software in the spotlight. IntelliGantt for Google now uses Google Plus to both authenticate and connect with people in your circles. It's a little different than Facebook in that Google Plus uses loose connections (meaning I can add anyone to a social circle) whereas Facebook requires a strong connection (ie. both parties agree to connect). The end result is the same, however-- creating a resource pool is a snap. Let's see how it works.

We start with the ubiquitous login page. IntelliGantt will use Google Plus's single sign on technology so that this page may just be a flash if you are already logged in.

IntelliGantt requests information about your user profile and if it can create activities for you. You, of course, have the ability to grant or deny this request.

Once past the authentication you are in the familiar IntelliGantt interface which let's you create projects and tasks.

Here is where a bit of fun begins. Remember that Google Plus uses loose connections for filling circles of people. IntelliGantt will request all the folks that are visible from your circles, even the loosely connected ones. This means you will be able to assign just about anyone to your tasks. For example, let's add Guy Kawasaki (I happen to follow him) to our resource pool.

Since Guy is a people person, it only makes sense to assign him to the 'People' task.

You'll notice there is a 'Notify?' checkbox in this control. We're still working on how best to notify Google Plus users when they've been assigned a task. Stay tuned.

Finally, the project with its lone assignment. I hope Guy knows he has a due date coming up.

So which connection method is better, Facebook's or Google's? Like so many things the answer is 'it depends'. Facebook's tighter integration means two users are more likely to interact. However, Google's looser rules means you really can add anyone to your projects. The bottom line is you'll be able to use folks from these two rich systems to create a resource pool for your work.

Add IntelliGantt to a Facebook Page

As someone who has gnashed their teeth on traditional software installs for many years, it's a pleasure to introduce just how quick and painless it can be these days. For example, if you would like to add IntelliGantt for Facebook to any page you administer, simply click the '+' button.

This will send the browser to Facebook's 'Add Tab' dialog where you can choose which of your pages to add IntelliGantt to. Right now IntelliGantt isn't page aware, but in the future we will make it so only projects relevant to the Facebook page IntelliGantt is running within will be visible or selected.

Speaking of pages, we just created an IntelliGantt Facebook Page you can join as another source of information. Let us know if you have any questions. We're in the process of rolling out sample usages now.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Project Management with Facebook

What's the most important thing about managing a project? Building the perfect schedule of tasks or the interpersonal communication necessary to execute that schedule? We hear time and time again how important notifications are to give everyone situational awareness. Email is good, but lacks the immediacy an instant message. It's important to let people know as soon as possible when they've been assigned a task and even more powerful to let people know when their task is ready. We've seen this trend over the years with our products, whether they be running in Groove, MS Project or SharePoint. Today we'd like to offer one more option-- IntelliGantt for Facebook.

Why Facebook as infrastructure for project management? Because after the technical aspects of laying out a schedule and allocating resources, the real issue is keeping people engaged on whatever device they are running and by any means necessary! Facebook just so happens to be the world's greatest social network so the synergy is incredibly appealing. We believe Facebook can be an excellent platform for both your business and personal projects-- especially as these two worlds continue to merge. Prepare yourself for the first screenshot of IntelliGantt for Facebook!

OK, while this screenshot looks a little underwhelming, what it demonstrates is very powerful-- robust user authentication. IntelliGantt for Facebook works with Facebook's user authentication system to make sure a user is indeed who they say they are. Even more importantly, it makes sure the people you invite to the project are who they say they are as well. Given that over 1 billion people (and growing) use Facebook, there's an excellent chance the people you need to collaborate on a project are already there. No need to import from Notes to SharePoint via Active Directory anymore.

Just click on the configuration 'cog' right next to PEOPLE and all your Facebook friends appear. We know not everyone will be participating in your projects, so select the folks you want to work with. Once selected, they are available to assign to tasks in the plans you create.

Now what happens when you assign a person to a task? It would be nice to let people know about these things, right? Here's where the value of the Facebook infrastructure begines to shine.

Again at first glance this screenshot looks terribly normal. However, notice the lower left of the picture. Facebook let's you know that a task has been assigned to you. IntelliGantt taps into Facebooks incredibly rich notification system in order to make this assignment very visible. Even better, it will appear on any dekstop, laptop or tablet you use Facebook with. Plus, it's a 'push' notification in that, if you have Facebook up and running, you will receive these notifications moments after the assignment as occurred with visual and audio queues.

Another great time to use Facebook's notification system is when a task assigned to you is ready to work. This is done by building upon a staple of traditional project management-- the task dependency. Basically if someone completes a predecessor task, IntelliGantt will see if anyone is assigned to its successor and, if so, send out a notification that the task is ready for you. When they click on the Facebook notification the user will be swiftly carried to the waiting task.

This is a great example of the synergy between project management and social applications. We will be looking for more exiting ways to use Facebook notifications and messaging in the future to aid in project management communication. Of course, a project manager would also like to have powerful tools at their disposal to plan and react. Things like multi-level undo, multiple assignments, multiple task dependencies, side-by-side swimlane comparisons for resource loading and more. We will be outlining these in a series of posts as well.