Project management software Binfire is built on the premise that to make a project team more productive, you need to bring the team together. When projects fail, it’s because of a failure in communication or collaboration. Binfire’s view is that the tighter you can integrate collaboration into the project management, the more likely the project is to be successful.
I recently spoke with Binfire co-founder and CEO David Robins about his company’s philosophy behind project management. (See Amber’s product review..) The focus of the release and our discussion was leveraging the human and organizational activities of collaboration and communication with the tools.
Everybody has project tools. We’ve had project management tools for many many years, but having the tools doesn’t help you make a project team more productive, they are just a tools. How you communicate, collaborate, get feedback, catalog information and then use that information that is what has been missing.
I asked Robins for an example of how Binfire’s customers are able to blend together people, technology tools, and organizational practice into effective project work. He gave me this example:
We have a customer with offices in United States and employees in South Asia: Philippines & Thailand. They were using tools — project planning and follow up — but still had communication and collaboration problems. What the other side of the team knew wasn’t always communicated. They started using our tools and that helped them make sure everyone is on the same page. They are very enthusiastic. Instead of just the project manager thinking about planning, it’s a collaborative effort. As a team member you finish a task or give a status report and that action is always available to everyone on the team right away [part of this new release is real-time updates]. That has helped them a lot.
Another customer, Arik Gubeskys, founder of Convexicon, Inc., provided Binfire with this feedback on how working with Binfire can reduce complexity, “I work remotely with software developers located all over the world. Binfire allows us a single program in which we can centralize all of our projects and communications with developers and customers. It’s simplified the complexity of collaborating remotely.”
Binfire’s global team doubles as in-house focus group
Collaboration and communication can take a variety of forms: Visual as well as text. Robins explained how they decided to add the whiteboarding feature with real-time chat. The Binfire team has people collaborating from Israel, Romania, and the US. “Five or six of us were meeting to design what we wanted to do. We didn’t have time to bring everyone to Israel to brainstorm. With the whiteboard, we all can see it [and use the chat feature to make comments]. We realized that we needed the same thing for PDF files — not to change the document on the fly, but to visually mark the PDF in real-time and change it later.”
Bake collaboration into early stages of project management
Robins described how Binfire has changed its own practice given their internal use of the technology:
I used to do project planning in my mind and then get the group together to discuss it. Now I just start the plan and rely on communication and collaboration to finish my thoughts. When a few people are thinking at the same time the result is much better than if it’s just me. The whole design of the project… the whole thinking of the project as a system has become more collaborative because of what we do.
Project as a system — that was an important take away for me. When projects are thought of as a system, rather than as a to-do list to be “managed,” I expect there is naturally a stronger focus on communication and collaboration. Tools built with the full system (human, technical, organizational) in mind are more likely to support productive project activities with stronger integration and understanding across tasks and actions.