I read a blog post today about mobile BPM (business process management) written by a colleague of mine, Scott Francis. Scott and I have worked together on BPM projects over the past few years. Having recently purchased the latest iPad, his post got me thinking about how mobile technology is changing the world of project management, or is it?
I am taking over a program after the first release went to production. The user stories are all in a cloud-based PM tool, organized in iterations and releases. So when I created a card board and put the user stories on post-it notes and stuck them up there, my developers made fun of me…but they have been keeping it updated without any prompting. So the question is, how much technology do we need? Can a project be successfully run with just a white board and a stack of post-it notes?
I will always take the simplest solution. When it comes to managing a co-located team, a cardboard is very effective. You can take a quick look and know exactly the status of the iteration. If you have 2 days left in the iteration and a bunch of cards in the column for waiting user acceptance, you know where you need to focus you time. One of the principals of Kanban is to make your process visible, and a cardboard does this very effectively, even if you're not using Kanban.
However, in a program like I'm running, with multiple iterations and releases, you need something more comprehensive to keep track of everything. We planned our next iteration this week. We were using our on-line tool to have a view into all of the stories. As we whittled down the stories for the next iteration, it let us know how many points we had selected, so we knew when we were within our velocity.
Going back to Scott's article, from a mobility standpoint, I carry my iPad around with me all day. I use it to capture notes in meetings, rather than using pen/paper. With Evernote, my notes are available on my laptop when I get back; or even my iPhone if necessary. I can also access our PM tool thru the iPad, so I have our plan at my fingertips, regardless of where I am. It's this instant access to information that makes the mobile tool valuable.
So, what's your favorite approach/application for managing projects?