Robelle Solutions Technology Inc.
Second Floor, 15399-102A Avenue
Surrey, BC, Canada V3R 3K1
Now that the HP 3000 computer platform is reborn as the e3000, it is time to consider innovative new uses for the system. This paper will teach you Internet techniques that can improve the management of your software development projects, and any other projects that your group, department or company may have. I am going to show you how to use your browser, a web site, and some basic tools like Qedit for Windows to simplify project management.
There is more to project management than just knowing if the project is on schedule. Traditional tools like MS Project do this, and well, but they do little else. The rest of project management is sharing information and results throughout the project team, and that is the primary topic of this paper. The issues addressed are task collaboration, sharing, distribution and updating of digital products, testing, and detailed communication within the team (see "Working Together" by Bennett in the references).
About the Author - Bob Green. I am a software developer, author and speaker, member of the HP Hall of Fame and founder of Robelle (http://www.robelle.com) . I welcome your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright 2000, Robelle Solutions Technology Inc.
Robelle is a distributed company.. For example, our R&D team, is sprinkled between, Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal, Phoenix, and the Caribbean. And we have partners all around the world. How are we to collaborate on projects? We needed a simple, easily available method to communicate ideas and to collaborate on various projects.
Naturally, our first use of the Internet was email, which immediately improves project communication. Team members can pose questions and answer them without the time synchronicity required for phone calls. But email isn’t enough. It eliminates the need to be in the same place and/or time, but it doesn’t do much to manage of the masses of data and relations that a project can generate. What you need is a repository for the digital products of project planning and status information.
As our projects grew in scope to include more people and especially more people in remote locations, the web provided a medium that was supported, easy to use, and widely accessible.
In addition, the web is open, flexible. and adaptable to changing needs, not a closed straightjacket. From a web page you can link to other web pages, text files, DOC files, PDF files, CAD drawings, databases, supplier web sites, customer web sites, source code, mailing list archives, almost anything. And the industry leader in web servers, Apache, is available for the e3000 on Hewlett-Packard's Jazz Web server.
Let's start with a simple project that we all can understand: preparing for the HP World conference: how to make all of the arrangements to come to HP World, setup the booth, write these tutorials and, more importantly, provide you with T-shirts..
The first step is an internal company web site for recording the status of projects. Then we create a web page for a new project: HpWorld.
A web page is just a file with text that describes both the content and how to present it in the browser. The markup language is called HTML and is easy to learn – everyone in our company does their own HTML for status reports, project pages, etc. Notice the "Updated: Thursday…" comment on the page above. This is created automatically by the following Server Side Include (see References for links to more information):
<!--#config timefmt="%A, %B %.1d, %Y, %.1I:%M %p %z" -->
<!--#echo var="LAST_MODIFIED" -->
Here is how the HPWorld projects page above looks when you are editing it:
Using the Internet as your project management platform allows you to integrate material from external partners into the project. In this case, Interex is our main partner for HP World and they have a web site also:http://www.interex.org
Putting your project planning documents on the public Internet raises the serious issue of security. To make a web site accessible to remote project members, but without making it freely available to strangers, there are several techniques you can use: a password on the site or sub-site, or a firewall that limits who can do what from beyond the wall.
Returning to our HP World project - there were 10 major steps in getting Robelle to HP World. Let's take a look at the sub-project 7, the T-shirt sub-project.
Each sub-project has generally the same layout. We have a spot for the Basic Information of the Project, some of the background information and the guidelines on how to get the project completed and what the steps are. These web pages keep everyone informed of the tasks required, the results so far, where we are with each task, and clearly outline who is responsible for what.
All of this is done with simple HTML, which even non-technical persons within the company have mastered. The surprising thing is that the non-technical people were the first to begin using color to indicate that status of any one task.
Let’s add a step to the Hp World project to Recap the conference and plan for next year.
We will need to create a new web page for a step 11, the Recap project, connect it with the main HPWorld page. The main page is edited to contain a link to the new project. Links are the key to the web:
<a href="project-11.html">Conference Recap - Ideas for 2000</a>
The page we are pointing to is "project-11.html" in the same directory as the main page. But it could easily link to a page at another web site if we wished. For example, here is a link to the HPWorld 99 conference proceedings on the Interex web site:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3