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Cloud Computing eBook

Cloud Computing eBook

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Traditional project management software

helps project managers and team members

organize and track all the various tasks in

a project. To do this, the software typically

includes scheduling, budget management, and resource-allocation compo-

nents. Web-based project management applications do all this online, with a

centralized project file accessible to all team members. This enables improved

communication and collaboration between members of the project team.

The scheduling component of a project management application helps the

project manager schedule the series of events that comprise the total project.

This should include a list of dependencies—those events that need to be com-

pleted before other events can start. The project management application

should then be able to calculate the project’s critical path, which is the series

of events that determine the length of the entire project.

After the project has been planned, it then has to be executed. The project

management application should enable this execution by creating task lists

for team members, allocation schedules for project resources, overview infor-

mation for the team manager, and, as the project progresses, an early warn-

ing of any risks to the project’s completion.

All that said, most web-based project management applications work in

a similar fashion. Let’s examine some of the most popular of these cloud

services.

@task

The web-based project management program known as @task

(www.attask.com) offers a variety of traditional projection management

functions. The application includes an inter-

active drag-and-drop Gantt chart (shown

in Figure 10.1), critical path analysis, proj-

ect milestones, planned/projected/

estimated comparisons, resource schedul-

ing, issue management, and calendar

views for project tasks. Tasks can even be

managed remotely via a special software

widget for Apple’s iPhone.

CHAPTER 10

Collaborating on Project Management

139

Some of the best-
selling traditional
desktop projection management
programs include Microsoft Pro-
ject, Primavera Project Planner,
and FastTrack Schedule.

note

A Gantt chart is a
type of bar chart that
illustrates a project schedule.
Individual tasks appear as discrete
bars on the chart. Dependent
tasks are linked to the end of
prior activities.

note

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FIGURE 10.1

The drag-and-drop Gantt chart in @task.

AceProject

AceProject (www.aceproject.com) is an easy-to-use web-based project manage-

ment application. It lets users manage multiple projects using multiple

resources and share those resources across projects. Tasks can be tracked via a

variety of filters that fine-tune the results, and the application offers a number

of different project reports and statistics. AceProject also offers time tracking,

email notification of task deadlines, and a monthly project calendar, shown

in Figure 10.2. The start and end dates are shown on their individual dates (in

green and red, respectively).

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PART IIIUsing Cloud Services

FIGURE 10.2

AceProject’s web-based project calendar.

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Basecamp

One of the most popular project management applications today is Basecamp

(www.basecamphq.com). Its web-based nature makes it viable for both inter-

nal and external (client) projects.

Project management is provided via a special dashboard, shown in Figure

10.3. The dashboard displays all projects and clients on a single screen, with

late items and those due soon highlighted on the screen.

CHAPTER 10

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FIGURE 10.3

Basecamp’s project management dashboard.

In addition to standard project management operations such as time tracking

and milestones, Basecamp includes to-do lists, file sharing, message boards,

wiki-like web-based documents, and other group collaboration features. All

web-based pages created by the program can be fully customized.

One of the aspects of Basecamp that makes it so appealing is its price. The

company offers three different plans (Basic, Plus, and Max), priced from a flat

$24/month to $149/month. This is in contrast to similar applications that

price on a per-user basis. Basecamp’s flat pricing makes it easy for organiza-

tions of any size to pick the plan that’s right for them, based on the number

of concurrent projects and storage space needed.

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Copper Project

Copper Project (www.copperproject.com) is a project management application

that can be hosted either on the company’s servers or on your own server.

Either version enables web-based collaboration.

Copper includes useful features such as a drag-and-drop weekly or monthly

timeline, resource management, email alerts, statistical reports, and a unique

personal time management tool. The program’s Springboard view lets you see

the progress of multiple projects on a single screen; you can drill down from

there by client or project.

eStudio TaskTracker

TaskTracker from eStudio (www.same-page.com/online-project-management-

07.html) is an easy-to-use online project management application. This pro-

gram includes features such as task lists (shown in Figure 10.4), work logs,

issue management, automatic task dependencies, subproject capability,

budget and expense tracking, Gantt charts, and a full set of management

reports.

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PART IIIUsing Cloud Services

FIGURE 10.4

An eStudio TaskTracker task list.

onProject

Another company offering online projection management solutions is

onProject (www.onproject.com). The company’s myonProject application is a

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subscription service that offers collaborative project management functional-

ity. The application’s Workspace page provides one-screen access to all key

operations. Other useful features include Gantt charts, time and expense

tracking, issue tracking, a web-based task calendar, automatic email notifica-

tions, file sharing, group discussion forums, contact management, and full

project reporting. Pricing is on a per-user basis.

Project Drive

The Project Drive (www.project-drive.net) application includes communication

and collaboration features in addition to basic project management function-

ality. Users get a customizable overview dashboard, templates for fast project

setup, Gantt charts, task management, resource allocation, document sharing

and management, automated communication tools, a group calendar, cost

analysis and budgeting, and a large number of management reports.

Vertabase

Vertabase (www.vertabase.com) is a popular web-based project management

application. It offers a summary executive dashboard, multiple schedule

views, project portfolio, cross-project Gantt charts, resource planning, budget

control, issue tracking, and a detailed project schedule.

Wrike

Wrike (www.wrike.com) is a project management application that offers a

unique way to create project tasks. The application is email based; emails

from project members are automatically converted into tasks in the appropri-

ate project. Wrike then automatically reminds employees about overdue tasks,

creates individual schedules for employees, and generates Gantt charts for

each project.

Zoho Projects

Our final web-based project management application is Zoho Projects

(projects.zoho.com), another popular product from the Zoho cloud combine.

Zoho Projects is a standard project management application, complete with

tasks and milestones, a project calendar, Gantt charts and other reports

(including the task list view shown in Figure 10.5), time tracking, and group

file sharing.

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FIGURE 10.5

View project tasks in list view with Zoho Projects.

Zoho offers several different versions of the Projects application, from a single-

project Free version to the Enterprise version that lets you manage an unlim-

ited number of projects. Pricing ranges from free to a flat $80 per month.

THE ADVANTAGES OF MANAGING PROJECTS ONLINE

The advantages of using project management software are well

known; when you have a large number of resources and constraints to

juggle, it makes sense to let technology do a lot of the detail work for

you. But there are even more advantages to using a web-based project

management application, especially if your projects involve partici-

pants and resources that aren’t all based out of the same location.

Naturally, a web-based application lets participants from different loca-

tions access the same master project files. When the master project is

housed in the cloud, there are no issues with maintaining the right ver-

sions of files for all users, or with synchronizing files among computers

to make sure they’re all up-to-date. Users can access files from any

Internet-connected computer using any web browser.

Of course, cloud project management services also let smaller compa-

nies tap into more powerful applications. A small company pays only

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PART IIIUsing Cloud Services

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for the resources used, and can easily scale upward if a single project

grows in size or if the company needs to manage additional projects.

That one-time cost of traditional software is turned into a pay-as-you-

go charge.

In addition, using web-based services facilitate improved communica-

tion between team members. Many web-based project management

applications include email, blogs, message boards, and chat rooms for

use by project members. When everything takes place on the web, it’s

a lot easier for team members to talk to each other.

This, in turn, facilitates group collaboration—which is what large proj-

ects are all about. The more efficiently and effectively you collaborate,

the fewer glitches you’ll encounter over the course of the project. And

that’s a very good thing.

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11

CHAPTER

IN THIS CHAPTER

How Web-Based Word
Processing Works

Exploring Web-Based Word
Processors

Collaborating on Word
Processing

Just about everyone who uses a computer uses a word

processing program. You use your word processor—

most likely some version of Microsoft Word—to write

memos, letters, thank you notes, fax coversheets, reports,

newsletters, you name it. The word processor is an essential

part of our computing lives.

But what do you do when you don’t have your word proces-

sor at hand? Maybe you’re visiting your parents’ home for

the holidays and you want to catch up on your memo writ-

ing, but your folks don’t have a computer in the house—or

they do, but it doesn’t have Word installed. Or maybe you’re

on a short business trip, without your trusty notebook PC,

and you need to fire off a short letter for work. Or perhaps

you’re a student on campus with an assignment due, and

you left your computer back in the dorm.

In short, what do you do when you don’t have Microsoft

Word handy? The solution, believe it or not, lies in the

clouds—in the form of a web-based word processor.

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That’s right, there are a number of web-based replacements for Microsoft’s

venerable Word program. All of these programs let you write your letters and

memos and reports from any computer, no installed software necessary, as

long as that computer has a connection to the Internet. And every document

you create is housed on the web, so you don’t have to worry about taking

your work with you. It’s cloud computing at its most useful, and it’s here

today.

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