Next-Gen Project Management

One of the jobs most important to business, and especially the business of technology, is the management of projects and tasks. In pretty much every business, groups of employees and outside contractors need to work together to complete essential projects. And, given the importance of projects, one would think project management would be one of the most vibrant, competitive and important fields in software. But, instead, in many ways it has become a stagnant backwater of enterprise applications. This is due to a certain degree to the success of Microsoft's Project. Despite many years of competition, Project has remained the biggest player in project management, and its file format is a de facto standard. But there has also been a surprising resistance to change in project management. Over the years, we've seen many interesting new applications that attempted to bring new methods and processes to project management, tying in projects to bigger and more collaborative environments such as groupware systems and corporate portals. While these systems gained some converts, they failed to really change how many projects were managed, leaving many users to return to the familiar world of Gantt charts and Project. Recently, we've seen Web 2.0 standards and technologies applied to project and task management. This makes a great deal of sense in many ways. After all, things such as wikis, blogs and Web-based applications are all about shared and collaborative work spaces. These Web 2.0 systems definitely have their share of fans, especially those outside the traditional world of hard-core project management. However, while these systems have low learning curves and are easy to get up and running on, they lack many of the tracking and management tools required for any serious business project. Nonetheless, although past attempts at innovation have failed to radically change the world of project management, there are vendors out there trying to lead the way to the next generation of project management.

Next Generation ProjectseWEEK's Emerging Technology Looks at Next-Generation Technologies in Project Management

LiquidPlanner Helps Manage Project Uncertainty -- LiquidPlanner is designed to take into account the changing aspect of project timelines and deliverables.

Lunarr Turns a New Page for Task Collaboration -- Though not really a project management product, Lunarr offers a radical new approach to task management by tying all collaboration to a virtual back page of documents and Web applications.

eWEEK Labs Walk-through: Chandler 0.7.4 - eWEEK Labs puts the newest version of Chandler, an open-source personal information manager, through its paces.

One of the jobs most important to business, and especially the business of technology, is the management of projects and tasks. In pretty much every business, groups of employees and outside contractors need to work together to complete essential projects. And, given the importance of projects, one would think project management would be one of the most vibrant, competitive and important fields in software. But, instead, in many ways it has become a stagnant backwater of enterprise applications. This is due in a certain degree to the success of Microsoft Office Project. Despite many years of competition, Project has remained the biggest player in project management, and its file format is a de facto standard. But there has also been a surprising resistance to change in project management. Over the years, we've seen many interesting new applications that attempted to bring new methods and processes to project management, tying in projects to bigger and more collaborative environments such as groupware systems and corporate portals. While these systems gained some converts, they failed to really change how projects were managed, leaving many users to return to the familiar world of Gantt charts and Project. Recently, we've seen Web 2.0 standards and technologies applied to project and task management. This makes a great deal of sense in many ways. After all, wikis, blogs and Web-based apps are all about shared and collaborative work spaces. These Web 2.0 systems definitely have their share of fans, especially those outside the traditional world of hard-core project management. However, while these systems have low learning curves and are easy to get up and running on, they lack many of the tracking and management tools required for any serious business project. Nonetheless, although past attempts at innovation have failed to radically change the world of project management, there are vendors out there trying to lead the way to the next generation of project management. Two new products that went into beta in February have clearly set their sights on changing the way people collaborate on and manage projects and tasks. Both LiquidPlanner and Lunarr are SAAS (software as a service) offerings and firmly set in the world of Web 2.0 -- with complex, Web-based GUIs and plenty of social and collaborative features. Of the two products, LiquidPlanner, from the company of the same name, is closer to a traditional project management tool and will be more familiar to those used to working in tools such as Project. However, LiquidPlanner's key differentiating feature is its tolerance of and ability to deal with uncertainty. LiquidPlanner is designed to take into account the changing aspect of project timelines and deliverables, and it works to help project teams estimate project completion and to detect and respond to changes that can cause a project to run late. Lunarr's namesake software, on the other hand, is a completely different type of product. It's really a stretch to even call it a project management application, as it lacks most standard project management features, such as scheduling. What Lunarr offers is a fairly radical new take on how people work together to complete a task, especially tasks based on documents or Web pages and applications. The product creates what Lunarr terms a back page for any document or Web page loaded into the service. On the back page is all the collaborative information tied to that document or site, including every e-mail exchange. This means that every piece of information, discussion and other associated content tied to a document or project is gathered in one place (the back of the document) rather than scattered across a multitude of applications, documents and e-mail threads. Of course, both LiquidPlanner and Lunarr could fail to change the culture of project and task management. But, eventually, project management will have to join the 21st century. And both applications point toward a new way of getting things done. Click here to read the review of LiquidPlanner
Click here to read the review of Lunarr