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Using Google Wave for Project Management

Earlier today a friend sent me a link to a review of Google Wave. While the article goes on to explain why Google Wave is not ready for prime time, yet, I’m excited by the possibilities and I’m looking forward to using it on a project at some point in the future. There are several features that I find particularly interesting and appropriate for project management.

  • Record of thought (documents): Online collaboration tools are not new. Project teams that I have managed have been using wikis for many years. What I find intriguing about Google Wave is that the train of thought is embedded within the document. There have been many times when someone on the team remarks “why are we doing this feature?” or “did we consider that environmental factor?”. If these questions are embedded in the wave, then the question and answer will be recorded for all project team members to see now and for historical reference. This feature could be particularly appropriate for requirements gathering, system architecture, and design documents. It can also be applied for change management, risk management, and practically any element of a project that needs documentation.
  • Planning a team meeting: Being an open, collaborative, workspace it is great place for team members to plan for and record the results of team meetings. It is nice to see who will be in attendance at a meeting and to offer ideas/topics for discussion at the meeting. In most teams, a single person is responsible for organizing the meeting and the agenda is a static document that is out of date as soon as it is published. Google Wave could replace the need to publish an agenda. And given the trend toward agile development methodologies, isn’t it more appropriate for agendas to be dynamic anyway? It can also give team members some idea of whether or not to attend a meeting based upon the attendance of the other participants… or if the meeting should be cancelled because certain key people are not able to attend. Google Wave will enable the team to take ownership of the meeting, rather than the individual.
  • Facilitating geographically dispersed teams: The quasi-real time nature of the communication will help teams feel closer together, yet allows team members to participate in a timezone that is comfortable to them. Again, this is not much different from other collaborative tools that have been available for years, but the use of pictures and a threaded discussion will make it easier to see who said what and in what context. There will still be some occasions when it is necessary to participate in a conference call in the middle of the night, but these should be minimized.

I’m looking forward to the day when Google opens up this application for the rest of us to use.