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Virtual Project Management - A learning Experience

We rely on Virtual Project Management to successfully manage our actual projects. We have tools that help us replace the actual project management tools. Offices, conference rooms, watercoolers and hallways are common places to discuss plans for a project. Lunches are great to get a team together to brainstorm. Sticky notes on an office wall can act as a project timeline. These need to be replaced with virtual tools.

Project management is the process of delivering on time, to budget and to specification each project we work on. Where and when PM takes place is anyones guess. But each project will have these main steps: Initiation, Planning, Production, Monitoring and Closing. There are any number of tasks associated with these phases. To track these tasks you need to have some fancy wizbang system. We use the Drupal Case Tracker system. Originally, it was our own install profile, now we are using the one packaged with Open Atrium.

Before deciding to go the OA route, we talked to a few other Drupal development shops about how they manage their tasks. No one had a solution they loved. Each group could only tell us what they use. They had a hard time telling us what they like about it. It was just a necessary evil. With that perspective we realized there is no 'right' answer. 

Out of the box, OA is very pretty. Which was a nice change from the Garland theme we were using on our project tool. Our plan is to review the setup as prescribed by Development Seed for a couple months. At the end, we should have a nice list of all the hopes and dreams (if not a few snarky comments) from everyone on the staff. Those comments will be processed and decisions will be made. 

I can't wait to see how this develops. OA is a popular approach and is meant for more than just software development. After we spend so much time digging around, we should be able to contribute to solving a common problem.

NOTES: Our virtual office consists of a custom chat room. Our file system is located on mainly Google Docs and Dropbox, but also have other options for each unique project or client (i.e. unfuddled, basecamp, etc). Our phones were all with Vonage, but the main line got really tired of getting called and having no way to share the love. So we got a system with extensions and stuff. We haven't figured out how to duplicate a water cooler, but we all like beer and meetup at various bars frequently enough to remember what each other looks like in person. I swear, one of us looks like a monkey.

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