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In my series called “Future of Project Management Software” I am talking with Project Management software vendors about their view of the future. This time I am talking to John Reeve from Pelago, creators of Intervals. I especially like the fact that they support a good cause: “One Percent for the Planet” (see final question).
What will Project management Software be like in 5-10 years?
“We have seen a major shift in project management in the last 5-10 years that will change even more over the next 5-10 years. Traditional Project Management is often thought of as the PMI and PMBOK path. Many people in management positions looked to this way for tools, guidance and advice. PMI is definitely still very relevant and is evolving, but for many small business or niche industries they are not necessarily the best method for project management.
On the development front you have Agile methodologies popping up all over the place with tools and methodologies like scrum that have their own subset of rules. I think we will see more of this diversification and niching of project management. We will see software that addresses certain philosophies.
Since philosophies and methodologies tend to grow and evolve there will be more and more tools and ways of doing things. The nimble nature of the web is going to make it easier for companies to build, launch, and evolve these tools. For example, web development agencies are going to have several options targeted to their industry and development method of choice. The products offering a one-size-fits-all approach to project management are going to struggle to stay relevant.”
How do you think tools will support proper communication between mobile, multi-cultural teams?
“Most people prefer to work in small teams. Many large companies have embraced this concept and are growing their companies from a network of small teams. Communicating in small teams is much easier than traditional channels in larger organizations. Communicating across different timezones and cultures is challenging, however, the bigger challenge is asynchronous vs. synchronous communication and building a company culture. We’ll always have phones and email, traditional and preferred forms of communication. Online tools will need to embrace and enhance already accepted forms of communication and not try to replace them.”
How do you think tools will build a sense of community?
“No matter what the tool is you need to spend time face-to-face and on the phone to develop rapport and communication patterns. With IM, Skype, and web-based project management software your physical geography becomes much less important. Getting people on board with the rest of the team becomes the higher priority for getting the day-to-day work done. Our company, Pelago, benefits greatly by having everyone in one big room. There are conversations, jokes and team building moments that would be difficult to replicate with a distributed team online.
This is both a challenge and an opportunity for web-based tools. We try to turn the mundane task — “hey update this” — into a fun conversation, injecting it with jokes, lolcat pictures, and other pop culture references. To achieve this with an online tool it needs to allow for some freeform expression of thoughts and ideas. Otherwise, you are trying to build community around workflow, and what fun is that?”
What makes your product different than other Project Management Software?
“The canned answer for that question is that Intervals was one of the first, and still is one of the few, hosted project management tools that combines time tracking with task management. However, Intervals goes beyond just mixing two features. It is a project management tool designed to address the entire workflow of a small team consisting of 5 to 20 members. Intervals sits in the middle of two widely different approaches to project management. On the one side, you have tools like Basecamp that reduces project management to one feature, the task list. On the other side, you have tools like MS Project that has too many features to count and is geared toward the enterprise company. Many small businesses need more than what Basecamp can offer, but are too overwhelmed by MS Project. We designed Intervals to give a small business all the tools they would need to manage projects end-to-end inside of one app.”
Your company is part of “One Percent for the Planet”. What does this organization do and why does your company support it?
“1% For The Planet is an alliance of businesses that donate at least 1% of their annual revenues to environmental organizations worldwide. The main reason we support this organization is that the founders of Pelago all firmly believe our generation has been called to be stewards of the environment. Other reasons are that this particular environmental organization was started in our backyard and we get to decide which nonprofit receives our donation. 1% For The Planet is simply a catalyst, which speaks volumes to their desire to help out. Last year we gave our donation to the Eastern Sierra Land Trust, an organization that is working to protect vital lands for both people and wildlife. Pelago has held a few of its company retreats in the Eastern Sierra and giving back is our way of helping to protect a region that has helped forge us as a successful company.”