The Low End Theory of Project Management

| January 7th, 2009 | , ,

The web 2.0 sub-sphere of online project management tools is evolving. Small businesses are discovering the “simple” approach to project management is not enough for getting things done in the context of their reality. While they aren’t looking for anything complex, they are definitely seeking out more comprehensive alternatives to the overly hyped simple tools. Our own hosted project management offering, Intervals, is a solution to this stuck-between-a-rock-and-a-hard-place conundrum. What does it mean to be in between the low and high end?

It’s what we call middleweight project management

Everybody talks about the featherweight and the heavyweight bouts, while the guys duking it out in between get little or no press. But that’s where most boxers probably make a living. In other words, there is no glory in being practical. Good thing we’re not after glory. We’re just not into the whole rockstar thing. We’d rather focus our time and energy on helping small businesses solve their workflow problems by solving our own. Simple nor complex tools work for us, so why would they work for businesses like ours?

Simplicity means reducing complexity, not axing it

The web 2.0 landscape can be described as a field of silos spreading out toward the horizon. And if you look closely you can see worshippers circled around offering up the word “simple” as their “amen.” There are an abundance of tools that do one thing yet are somehow expected to be the end-all-be-all solution to project management or time tracking. Most small businesses, like ours, find themselves lost wandering through such a landscape. We need online small business tools that make it easy to do the complex, not dismiss it as unnecessary.

The UI can handle additional features

Every once and a while someone will criticize the Intervals UI, saying it is too complex. Reading between the lines, this is simply their way of saying that Intervals has more features than they need. This is a common misunderstanding coming from people who are used to getting things done with less. Most small businesses, however, would very much disagree. In fact, we’ve also been criticized for just the opposite reason, not having enough features. UI is a delicate subject, especially when catering to web designers and developers. Our goal is to be in a constant state of UI tuning while still keeping simplicity and complexity in check.

There is a good reason we built it for ourselves

Almost every web-based project management tool available is the product of a small business building something practical to meet their own needs. Intervals is no different, we built it to handle the workflow needs of our web design & development agency. The more you can identify with the team behind the product, the more likely you’ll find it to fit your needs. What does our team look like? We are a group of five designers, developers, managers, engineers and entrepreneurs who’ve juggled over 300 projects for over 100 clients in our nine year history as an agency. We’re not two guys throwing whimsy at the wall to see what sticks and we’re not a huge corporation trying to cram it all in to a “solution.”

Here at Pelago we are just a couple of plain joes trying to help other small businesses find their way. If we can help others avoid the mistakes we’ve made and increase their productivity we will consider ourselves successful.

Lear

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A collection of useful tips, tales and opinions based on decades of collective experience designing and developing web sites and web-based applications.

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Intervals is online time, task and project management software built by and for web designers, developers and creatives.
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John Reeve

John is a co-founder, web designer and developer at Pelago. His blog posts are inspired by everyday encounters with designers, developers, creatives and small businesses in general. John is an avid reader and road cyclist.
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Michael Payne

Michael is a co-founder and product architect at Pelago. His contributions stem from experiences managing the development process behind web sites and web-based applications such as Intervals. Michael drives a 1990 Volkswagen Carat with a rebuilt 2.4 liter engine from GoWesty.
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