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Virtual Project Management Appendix 2011

Page history last edited by undram_sambuu@yahoo.com 8 years, 9 months ago

 

Introduction


 

There are a variety of criteria to consider when choosing and evaluating virtual project management tools. This appendix outlines some high-level considerations a mid-size to large business must keep in mind when selecting a tool. Additionally, this appendix recommends specific tools in each category discussed in this chapter (Intranet/Extranet, Wiki, Online Chat, VoIP, Conferencing Tools, PM Software, and Schedule Management Tools). These recommendations are based on what is available in the market today (early 2011). Expect these recommendations to change as industry norms, available technologies, or legal requirements evolve.

Keeping in mind that virtual project management may be considered a specific subset of virtual collaboration in general, many of these tools may be used for different types of virtual collaboration projects. This appendix aims to give businesses some starting points when considering what tools may be used for their virtual project management endeavors. Other groups undertaking different types of virtual collaboration projects may also find these suggestions useful.

 

High Level Selection Process & Consideration Criteria


 

This diagram is meant to be used as a springboard for project managers during the beginning stages of planning a virtual project. This may serve as a useful guide as to what types of questions PMs should be asking, what some possible answers may be for their business or team, and why these considerations may be important. The guide touches on primary considerations, secondary considerations, and “nice to have” items. Certainly, some businesses may perceive questions in these categories as having a higher or lower level of importance, depending on a variety of factors unique to your business and its goals.

Users should feel free to restructure these questions or categories according to their own needs. This diagram and question set is meant as a springboard to get project managers thinking, and get teams focused on the types of questions they should ask before setting up a virtual project management plan.

 

 

 

Software Capabilities Schema


 

This chapter talked extensively about considerations one should take into account when engaging in virtual project management. The following Software Capabilities Schema tables suggest some of the best tools to aid in virtual project management or virtual collaboration in 2011. As technology is constantly evolving and changing, we expect new tools to emerge on the market that address the needs of project management in different, and often more effective, ways. The categories we explored for each tool include:

  • Core Capabilities: Characteristics of the tool that make it a good choice for a particular group to use. These may include the specific actions the tool allows, and why these actions are important toward achieving team goals
  • Data Content: This describes the kinds of contributions users or groups can add to the tool using the core capabilities described above. This may include written content, videos, graphics, instant messages, or graphs.
  • Data Relationships: These describe types of relationships users can establish among data contributions described above. Common data relationships may be ordinal, network, or hierarchical.
  • Data Limits: Data contributions may sometimes have limits to size, duration, or content that restrict what can be contributed using the tool or system.
  • Data Persistence: Persistence degrees are either ephemeral or permanent.
  • Actions: These are specific actions users or groups can take using the tool or system. For example, adding content, receiving phone calls, editing documents, or evaluating client submissions.
  • Synchronicity: This represents the time difference between when a user takes an action and the system and when other users can expect to know the action has taken place and take reciprocal actions in response. This may be expressed in terms such as instantly, within hours, or within days.
  • Identifiability: This represents whether or not users can tell who executed a given action in the system. Actions may be anonymous, fully identifiable, identifiable by screen name or pseudonym, or identification by role (for instance, Administrator).
  • Access Controls: These are limits a manager or administrator may place on an end user’s ability to interact with the system. Admins may require a password to log-in, for instance.
  • Roles: Some systems may allow different types of users to interact with the system in different ways. For instance, Administrators may have a higher set of permissions in the system than clients, who can only observe certain actions taking place or read certain data.
  • Awareness Indicators: These represent how system users know who else has access to the systems or data, who is in the system at a given time, et cetera.
  • Interruption Alerts: These may include pop-ups, e-mail notifications, or alert messages that indicate to a user that some action has occurred in the system that requires or may require their attention.
  • Instructions: This indicates how the tool or system gives guidance to users on how to use the tool.


Each table also gives a brief introduction as to why this is one of the best selections in this category and why it was chosen, as well as some basic pricing information.

 

Intranet/Extranet

 

The chapter outlined accessibility, availability, and data integrity as major benefits of using an Intranet or Extranet tool.  Cost, maintenance, and end-user buy in were listed as the primary hurdles or challenges a business must overcome with respect to this technology in order for its use to succeed. Noodle is unique in that it uses metaphors that are very familiar to users to construct its business. Everyone is familiar with how a discussion board, IM system, or social network works. Blogging has become more and more prevalent, and people know what it is used for and how to use it. Noodle has taken the traditional Intranet/Extranet and expanded it with additional applications to enhance ease of use (which, in turn, helps increase user buy-in) and lower the cost of maintenance (since users do a lot of the data sharing in forums other than static pages). Noodle beats out a tool like Sharepoint because it has an easier to use interface, allows more granular access controls, and has many more tools available to share information rather than just static postings or document sharing.

 

Product Name
Noodle
Core Capabilities

It includes flexible options for posting website-like pages separated out by page and section. It has useful features such as public, private, or shared calendars that can sync with e-mail and send alerts. A discussion forum, a business social networking tool, blogging and micro blogging, a basic task management and assignment system, an instant messaging portal, online conference room, database builder, document management system, photo album, Q&A forum, and a powerful search engine

Data Content

Website pages, calendars, discussion forum posts, blogs, task management, IM, online conferencing, database creation/management, document sharing, photo album, forums

Data Relationships

Collection, Hierarchical, Network

Data Limits

Support only available in 8 languages, hosted solutions must be installed on Windows or Linux server

Data Persistence

Permanent

Actions

View page, update page, view calendar, update calendar, share calendar, receive e-mail alert, subscribe to RSS feed, network with colleagues, post blog entry, view blog entries, comment on blog entries, enter task, assign task, update task, send IM, track IM, check out document, check in document, view document change log, search contacts, add note to contact, update contact, host online meeting, ask a question, reply to a question, post and view photos, create database, create form/survey/etc, link to external or internal site or document, search, create report, grant or deny access, audit user action

Synchronicity

Instantly

Identifiability

Fully identifiable.  Admins could choose to identify themselves only as admins

Access Controls

Login name and users password, sync with Active Directory available for single sign on (SSO), access interfaces for read-only, post, modify, or admin

Roles

License-based access, must have a license and account for each user

Awareness Indicators

Admins can track access, no central area where other users can see who is online.  IM feature allows users to see who is online.  Change log allows users to see who is altering documents

Interruptions / Alerts

E-Mail alerts available for calendar sync, document updates.  IM alerts for instant messaging feature

Instructions

Documentation provided upon signup

Price Pricing available upon request from company

 

 

Wiki

 

As was stated in the chapter, the advantages business gain by using a wiki as a collaborative authoring or knowledge sharing tool are enormous. However, it’s important for businesses to choose the right tool because, as the chapter stated, the nature of the wiki creates the risk that inaccurate information may be posted or shared. One of the main advantages Wikispaces provides is security and access control, as well as robust change logs and alert features. For a business, this is advantageous because they can easily control access to various wikis on a granular level. This helps ensure only qualified or authorized individuals can make changes to the wiki. At the same time, they can allow others to go in and read or learn from that information, without actually granting them access to edit the information. Granular security controls give Wikispaces a huge advantage. Additionally, the robust auditing capabilities of the tool allow an administrator to accurately and easily track who is making changes to the system.

 

Product Name
Wikispaces
Core Capabilities

Wikispaces is a wiki tool used for posting or editing wikis.  Supports uploading documents, videos, links, audio, and also supports embedded content from other websites.  Includes change logs and granular user access controls

Data Content

Wiki post writing and editing

Data Relationships

Collection, Network

Data Limits

Ad-free  version, enhanced security, unlimited storage/wiki pages, branding, invoicing, and granular permissions controls available only on paid accounts

Data Persistence

Permanent

Actions

Add user, remove user, create wiki page, update wiki page, delete wiki page, format page, embed content, upload content, link to external content/site, track changes

Synchronicity

Instantly

Identifiability

Optional – Could be fully identifiable or identifiable by pseudonym, depending on how user sets up account

Access Controls

User Name / Password required for log-on; sync with Active Directory for SSO available for enterprise and organizational (paid) accounts

Roles

Access for account holders only, licenses required for organizational accounts

Awareness Indicators

Available for enterprise and organizational (paid) account

Interruptions / Alerts

E-mail alerts available to tell users when wikis are updated

Instructions

Basic online support available for free account holders, more robust online and phone support available for enterprise and organizational (paid) account holders 24/7.  Documentation available

Price Wikis for organizations starting at $1000 / year (quotes available upon request from company); Wikis for individuals or groups such as classrooms or departmental projects are free

 

 

Online Chat

 

The Instant Messaging (IM) Tool Meebo was the chosen software for online chat due to its ability to cover a wide range of possible solutions for problems business users might encounter. Meebo stands out among other services as it is an all-in-one web-based software that enables existing users of other IM software (Yahoo, Windows Live Messenger, AIM, etc) to access all of their  accounts from Meebo. 

 

Product Name
Meebo
Core Capabilities

Integrates Yahoo, Windows Live Messenger, AIM, Google talk, ICQ and Jabber social media and communication channels into a single website. It is a purely online software

Data Content

IM, video chat, games, transfer files

Data Relationships

Network

Data Limits

IM access for only Meebo, Yahoo, Windows Live Messenger, AIM, Google talk, ICQ, and Jabber users

Data Persistence

Ephemeral

Actions

Add buddy, remove buddy, start or join group chat, edit users status, display users availability

Synchronicity

Instantly

Identifiability

Full Identifiability

Access Controls

Login name and users password

Roles

Access for account holders only

Awareness Indicators

Buddy list icon shows who is online and who is not

Interruptions / Alerts

Icon pop-up with the sound

Instructions

Meebo support-has user support forum, FAQ, lost password, contact support functions

Price Free 

 

 

VoIP

 

Skype Business is a good VoIP tool that everyone can use, because it has comparably cheap local and international rates that helps companies save money when making domestic and international calls, holding meetings, make conference calls and so on. Skype Business is suitable for any sized company due to their different packages that cater to all through varied options and prices based on the company's needs. It has web-based management tool called Skype Manager that makes it easier to centrally manage employees account usage. Additional features such as Skype-To-Go and Skype Connect allow the use of Skype functionality on cell phones and PBX phones.

 

Product Name
Skype Business
Core Capabilities

Features include free video and voice calls, instant messaging and file sharing with others

Data Content

Video call, voicemail, IM, send files, screen sharing

Data Relationships

Network

Data Limits

International/ domestic video calling services for Skype account holders only

Data Persistence

Ephemeral and Permanent

Actions

Add and remove contacts, start or join group video calling, call forwarding and transfer, screen sharing

Synchronicity

Instantly

Identifiability

Full Identifiability

Access Controls

Login name and users password

Roles

Access for account holders only

Awareness Indicators

Shows users status

Interruptions / Alerts

Icon pop-up with the sound

Instructions

Skype Support-provide guidance on using Skype, Account, Troubleshooting, Skype for Business and Skype for Mobile functions

Price

FREE:

  • Skype-to-Skype calls

  • One-to-one video calls

  • Instant messaging

  • Screen sharing

PAY AS YOU GO (from 2.3¢ a minute):

  • Call phones and mobiles

  • SMS

  • Call forwarding

SUBSCRIPTION (from 1.2¢ a minute):

  • Lowest calling rates

  • Choose unlimited calling2

  • Best rates with a 3 or 12 month subscription

SKYPE PREMIUM (Group video from $8.99/month):

  • Group video calling

  • Get help when you need it with live chat support

  • Day pass or monthly subscription available 

 

 

Conference Tool

 

This product was selected to showcase as a virtual management tool because it is versatile in that it allows both voice and video conference calling. Cisco’s WebEx is the only web conferencing service delivered over a proprietary network, optimized for security, performance, and reliability. WebEx allows customers to share rich multimedia content in real time. WebEx is fully scalable, so it can serve customers in the range of an individual to a multinational corporation. WebEx service is for meetings with anyone, anywhere no matter if their inside or outside a customer’s firewall. Any person with an Internet connection can join a WebEx meeting; only the host (or meeting organizer) needs to have a WebEx account. The only equipment requirements are microphones, headphones, cams, web-based software and high-speed internet connection. WebEx has quality software designed for a smooth conversational channel. WebEx allows meetings to be recorded for future reference.

 

Product Name
WebEx
Core Capabilities

Web conferencing lets you connect with anyone, anywhere, in real time. It combines desktop sharing through a web browser with phone conferencing and video

Data Content

Video call, simultaneous webcam-video feeds. View or scroll webcam feeds. Watch multiple webcam videos while sharing content. Full-screen view for a true video conferencing

Data Relationships

Network

Data Limits

Monthly subscription; unlimited meetings; support 25 to 500 participants; meet on mobile devices; compatible with Windows, Mac, Linux, Unix, and Solaris, as well as other poplar browsers

Data Persistence

Ephemeral

Actions

Start or join video meeting; Allow switching of host during the meeting. Record video conference meetings for future reference

Synchronicity

Instantly

Identifiability

Full Identifiability

Access Controls

Access a WebEx meeting with a meeting number that is reserved for a meeting and shared with invited participants. Secured meetings are private with enterprise-grade security (including SAS-70 Type II accreditation); password capability

Roles

Host and invited participants

Awareness Indicators

See who is talking automatically with Active Speaker technology

Interruptions / Alerts

Yes

Instructions

Help include demo videos, contact support by email or phone, online training, knowledge base online articles, WebEx Global Assist Service

Price

Monthly plan:
$49 a month per meeting host with up to 9 meeting host; or special arrangement

 

Yearly subscription:
Save $120 per host annually

 

 

Project Management

 

This product was selected to showcase as a virtual management tool because in multiple comparison reviews @task (AtTask) scored in the top three. It scored high for this appendix contribution because it supports English, Japanese, German, French, Spanish, Chinese, Dutch and Polish languages, unlike similar products. It is an all-inclusive and customizable project management product whose emphasis in on project communication. It focuses on organizing objectives, schedules, documents, resources and existing business data. The only negative is that if you have never used this software you mayhave to review the tutorials that are provided. AtTask has customizable dashboards for the employees, managers, CEOs and clients to fit any specific need. Collaboration ability scored high for this product because the prime feature of the project management program is the ability to keep everyone involved in a project current on updates and changes.

 

Product Name
AtTask
Core Capabilities

Project Management software that allows virtual project management. Browser-based online program. Includes Task management, scheduling, calendars, Gantt charts, milestones, among other features

Data Content

Text, graphics, charts, reports, document sharing and repository, email, online chat, forums, data import and export

Data Relationships

Network

Data Limits

Monthly subscription; 1 user per account depending on subscription; single sign-on; easy click through install process; unlimited project, resources, materials, issues, tasks and sub tasks

Data Persistence

Ephemeral and Permanent

Actions

Desktop application and online sign-in; project participants are allowed to add, view, associate, edit, move, evaluate, and delete projects, resources, materials, tasks, issues, documents; automatic email notifications of project update

Synchronicity

Instantly

Identifiability

Full Identifiability

Access Controls

Privacy settings let different managers, users and clients view only what they need to see within the online project management program

Roles

Managers, users and clients

Awareness Indicators

Ability to see current users, what they are assigned to, and what they are viewing

Interruptions / Alerts

Yes

Instructions

Help include support by phone, printed manuals, knowledge base online articles, 24-hour email, and user forums; online chat with representatives; FAQs; tutorials

Price $150 - $650 per year for each:
Requester License
View-Only License
Team Member License
Full User License

 

 

Schedule Management

 

Most scheduling software tends to offer very similar capabilities, such as calendars, importing external calendars, sending invites. So if we were basing our choice upon just that it would be a harder task. Luckily, what makes Doodle unique and sets it apart from the rest, is its extensive poll creation capabilities. Adding on to this is that it is very simple to use and it is very cheap. Polls are easy to set up, and extra options that are extremely useful can be added such as poll anonymity. Keeping track of polls is simple and convenient from the account home. Regardless of the situation, there is a poll that will fit the bill.

 

Product Name
Doodle
Core Capabilities

Online software for group schedule management. It is capable of importing data from other scheduling software such as Google Calendar. Has polling services for quickly and easily setting up meeting times between large groups

Data Content

Text and Graphics for schedule

Data Relationships

Collection, Network

Data Limits

Unlimited Polls for registered and paid service. Paid version is ad-free. Polls are deleted after 30 days of being outdated

Data Persistence

Permanent

Actions

Add polls, remove polls, delete polls, place conditions on polls, can add anonymity to polls, can limit people polled, can send invites. Associate calendars with Doodle, can embed Doodle polls in web pages

Synchronicity

Instantly

Identifiability

Multiple options. Identifiable by pseudonym, or fully identifiable  depending on name used to answer poll or full anonymity if the poll is set up to be anonymous

Access Controls

Free version does not require a user name or password. Sign up free version requires user name and password. Paid version has sign in with SSL-encryption

Roles

Two different types of users: the user who sets up the poll, and those who receive the poll

Awareness Indicators

Users indicated on poll if not anonymous

Interruptions / Alerts

Alerts take the form of invitations, poll notifications. Polls can be set up to alert creator of current answer status

Instructions

Help on website. Support offered for paid version, call-support and employee training to optimally use

Price

Basic Doodle is free.

For Premium doodle service it starts as low as $29 a year for an individual, and goes up to $1799 a year for 1000 employees.

 

 

Sources


  • Used for research on Doodle
  • Used for research into available schedule management software
  • Used for conference tool research
  • Used for project management research
  • Used for  VoIP research
    • Skype Business. Web. Feb 2011
  • Used for IM research
    • Meebo About Us/. Web. Feb 2011
  • Used for Wiki research
    • Brown, Katherine, Huettner, Brenda, and James-Tanny, Char. "Choosing the Right Tools for Your Virtual Team: Evaluating Wikis, Blogs, and Other Collaborative Tools". IEEE, 2007. Print 
    • Wikispaces. Tangient LLC. 2010. Web. Feb. 2011 
    • Wikimatrix. CosmoCode. Web. Feb. 2011
  • Used for Intranet/Extranet research
    • Noodle Intranet Software. Vialect, Inc. Web. Feb. 2011  
    • Ward, Toby. "Intranet Technology". IntranetBlog.com. Web. Feb. 2011

 

Instantly

Comments (1)

Danny Mittleman said

at 6:13 pm on Mar 1, 2011

While material is being added here, this seems like a fairly incomplete execution of virtual project management product evaluation. Do take a look at the approach the virtual meeting management people have taken. You seem to have one product per category listed. What was your methodology for selecting that product? Do you represent it to be "best in class" If no, then what use is it to describe it? If yes, how did you determine it is best in class?

Could you map your list of sources at bottom to where and how you actually used them?

Is the "choosing a virtual tool" graphic your work? If so, nice job. If not, could you cite and and explain what value added you have provided other than cutting and pasting it in? Either way, could you provide some context around it?

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