One of the first questions people may wonder when they first log in to Intervals is “Why can I see everyone else’s tasks and timesheets?” The ability to do project management online brings with it also the opportunity to rethink how we manage our day-to-day small business workflow. In developing Intervals, we decided to open up the interface and integrate the characteristics of social networks and web 2.0 technologies that have revolutionized the web. How, exactly, does social networking benefit project management?
If you can see what everyone else is working on, and how much time they are tracking, that means they can find out the same about you. Small teams are far more efficient when they hold themselves accountable to one another. Afterall, no one wants a slacker on their team. It’s much easier to refine this practice of accountability with the help of good web-based software. Accountability becomes especially important for distributed teams. Your developers may be be night owls while your sales team are morning people. Being able to review each others tasks and timesheets reassures us that even though we may not often be in the same room with the whole team, we are all getting our share of the work done.
A little competition in the workplace is good for morale and can improve company culture. We have a tradition of comparing our weekly timesheets bestowing bragging rights to who tracked the most hours, who worked on the most projects, and so on. It encourages us to work harder, so we can be the one on top next week, and to work smarter, so as a team we aren’t overwhelming ourselves with too much work.
When you know who is working and what they are working on, decisions regarding resource planning become easier to make. Group collaboration is an essential component for getting things done in a social networking context. This becomes especially true for geographically distributed teams. The more transparency an application can offer, the more collaborative and efficient the team is going to become. And that’s just better for everybody.