by Rakesh Sharma
Published on 19 November 2012
One of my favorite lines is from noted poet T.S. Eliot's well-known poem Four Quartets, where he talks about the importance of exploration and returning to the same spot and seeing it with fresh eyes.
We will do much of the same thing this week by discussing an application that has already been reviewed earlier. We will review Comindware - a process and task management application that streamlines tasks and process management. We will discuss its new cloud-based avatar, its benefits and see how it can be of use to you.
In my earlier reviews, I had focused on the application's workflow and process management capabilities. This time, I asked the folks. Kamille Nixon, senior product marketing manager at Comindware, says the cloud-based solution has the "same unique values" as the on-premise value but has been configured as "a different experience."
Thus, much like the on-premise solution, Comindware's cloud solution offers learning opportunities to a new project manager. "The cloud offering gives "accidental" project managers (those team leads who find themselves managing projects as part of a larger objective) a flexible way to automate repeated processes and discover best practices in so-called "ad hoc" projects," she says. In simple words, this means that project managers, who are doing their job for the first time, can automate best practices on-the-fly and essentially learn and implement their learnings at the same time.
Comindware solves a key problem in project management: email churn. We have all been there, when a round of emails, complete with attachments, side notes and unnecessary documentation, are generated to perform simple tasks. Such chains cost valuable project time and productivity. Nixon says Comindware simplifies such chaos and saves project costs by as much as 30 percent to 50 percent.
And, how do they do this?
By providing a common team interface for tasks. Thus, you can configure personal productivity tasks for yourself and, also, team tasks with greater visibility. The real utility of this feature, however, becomes clear when you configure multiple departments into the system. In my earlier reviews, I had mentioned the solution's versatility regarding this feature. As an example, consider the screens below. The first screen enables you to enter details regarding a hiring-related task, while the second screen enables you to configure details related to marketing. Each task can be set to appropriate permission-levels and all information related to that task (including assignment, status, and completion details) are available.
You can also create subtasks to create circumstances for what Nixon calls "Extreme Collaboration." This type of collaboration occurs when all content management, all discussion, and all processes are captured together in a single project. The relative ease of configuring processes that do not require coding ensures that change happens rapidly. "In such processes, everything can be changed on-the-fly without stopping those processes that are underway and efforts within and among teams are coordinated," she says.
From the micro, we proceed to the macro. According to Nixon, another benefit to using Comindware is the solution's ability to provide real-time visibility into projects and processes in a single "instance" throughout the organization. "This means that YOUR area of the company, customizing and changing the work as much as you need, at the same time that the organization as a whole keeps everything in one place" Nixon adds. According to her, no other service combines project and process visibility into a single instance. "Comindware lets you expand your project management into more of a product life-cycle model," she says.
Think of the solution as a project and process management tool and an organizational water cooler. It enables project managers to configure customized dashboards, lists and other important metrics for their project. At the same time, you can set appropriate visibility levels to ensure that each project manager can view relevant details of other projects. The plethora of features and ease-of-use help to propagate changes throughout the organization.
I can think of, at least, two important benefits as a result of this approach. First, the single instance approach eliminates silo-centric thinking, promotes transparency, and enables sharing within an organization. Second, this approach can be especially useful to get a bird's eyeview of multiple projects within the company. Thus, instead of requesting data regarding inidividual projects, the program manager can simply log into Comindware and check project progress. "You have long-term and real-time insight from beginning to end across different departments, teams, customers, and the like," says Nixon.
"It really depends on the organization," says Nixon about the choosing on-premise or cloud delivery. "This is because the Comindware customer needs utmost flexibility along with the most robust functionality." The solution, itself, is flexible in terms of delivery and, instead, focused on developing features that promote project collaboration.
This is a theme that has been discussed earlier. In an earlier interview, the solution's co-founder had discussed the importance of project collaboration. Nixon reiterates the importance of this theme and correlates it with the value of discovering information within a project. She says the discovery process works especially well for unstructured processes. With its transparent and role-based single instance approach, Comindware facilitates process improvements. Thus, unstructured processes are exposed to and can learn from structured processes and share information and artifacts with them to improve efficiency.
"All of a sudden, the best ideas and best methods are no longer siloed within individual projects and the most effective ways of working are exposed so they can be further developed and deployed throughout an organization," she says. "This makes project managers very successful heroes."
Comindware is a pretty unique project management solution because it combines project and process management into a single instance, thereby increasing efficiency. It is obvious that the solution's founders have put much thought into designing the solution and it shows.
Comindware products come with a 30 days free trail and are available as a web version or it can be installed onto a Windows server. The single-user pricing comes in at $25 per user for the cloud version and decreases as you add more users, and you can always add as many as you want!
Try the solution, if you would like to become a "project management hero."