As I’ve been tweeting my way throughout the twittersphere I’ve intersected a few tweets posted by publicly perusable ponderers wondering what a mashup of twitter and project management tools might look like. For the most part, the assumption is that Twitter would somehow be the central part of this newfangled application. While I do believe Twitter is an amazing communications tool, I don’t see it being central to any online application. However, if we look at it from the perspective of the web-based application we can immediately start seeing useful ways to incorporate Twitter into existing project management software. So what would that look like? I have some ideas — some good, some bad, probably worth considering either way.
- Track time
There are some time tracking applications already doing this quite well. The format of the general tweet is so simple that any mobile phone with a twitter app installed could easily be used for starting and stopping timers on the go. As soon as you are back in front of a web browser, apply the timers to their respective tasks and projects.
- Update tasks
Send a tweet to update task notes. How often are we sitting on the bus or about to fall asleep when an idea strikes or we remember we’d forgotten to update a task before leaving the office. No problem, just send a tweet to the task and the note gets appended. No more scribbling on the back of store receipts or hoping we won’t forget again.
- Send in a work request
Think of something that needs to be assigned as a task? Tweet it and it will show up in the application’s work queue. Then you or the project manager can follow up with the request and assign it as a task. Another great way to get ideas into your project management application while on the move or AFK.
- Communicating with team members
What if your twitter stream appeared inside your project management software and you could weed out the applicable tweets and convert them to tasks or notes? Twitter would be the infrastructure delivering a steady stream of communique. The only drawback is that it may become overwhelming depending on how many people you follow. Perhaps Yammer might be more suited for this type of inline communication?
- Payments & Expense
Though probably not very practical given the number of projects you may be juggling, those with fewer projects may find it helpful to tweet payments and expenses to a project account. It could be another one of those features that comes in handy when standing at the ATM machine or purchasing supplies for a specific project.
- Add events to your calendar
Use your mobile twitter app to add an event to your calendar. Afterall, the only thing you really need is a date, time, and a note. Should be easily done within 140 characters.
Some project management applications, like Intervals, have a scratchpad space where you can jot down rough notes and reminders. Why not submit those via twitter as well? Like they say, you have to strike while the iron is hot.
Whether or not we’ll incorporate some of these into Intervals, I don’t know. Seems like overkill to make every aspect of your application accessible via Twitter. The best approach would be to find out what customers want most, and how comfortable they are with using Twitter in this manner. Regardless, it is certainly worth pondering. Some of our best ideas seem to come at us when are tossing them around between friends on the front porch in the late summer evening — at least, that is where most of ours have come from.
Personally I’m yet to see a power of Twitter in everyday dull project work. While it’s cool to have Twitter everywhere these days I think we’ll see many tries before this kind of communication will settle in specific tasks. We got used to other channels of communication and we know which one to choose in a specific situation. Twitter is still for everything and for nothing at the moment.