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For a long time I also wanted to have multi-user functionality built into OmniPlan. But then it occurred to me: why, exactly?

As a project manager, OmniPlan is a tool that *I* use to manage the project. Why on earth do my developers, designers, or other resources need to have the same view of the project as I do? Short answer: they don't, really.

What my resources need to be able to do is update THEIR part of the project when they need to. This means things like updating task completion. Let the project manager worry about updating and managing the project plan. That's his job.

Microsoft Project handles this by integrating with other applications. A project manager, for example, can assign tasks to a resource and have those tasks sent to that resource's e-mail account. The resource can then use Outlook to keep track of—and report on—progress for each task, including percent complete, etc., which can then be fed back into Project—all electronically, all automatically. Nifty; cool. But the resource doesn't have (or even need) access to the project file itself.

Now, that said, there are definitely situations where multi-user project files become necessary: when there are multiple project managers on a project, for example. It would be great to have multiple project files, each containing and tracking information for separate pieces of the project (and managed by different project managers), and then be able to have a master project file that can reference each of the other project files. This would be helpful for managing resources as they roll off one leg of a large project onto another. This resource information can by synchronized to all of the lower-level project files so each project manager can see what resource availability is.

I guess what I'm getting at is that OmniPlan, Microsoft Project, or whatever tool you use to manage your project, is a tool for a project manager. It doesn't really benefit your lower-level resources to have access to this tool. They may need to provide—or look up—information that is being tracked by the tool, but that's about it. Let's really think about what we're asking for when we say we want a server-based or multi-user accessible project file or service. We should be more specific about what it is we really want to accomplish. Let's discuss the actual tasks we want to complete without doing it in terms of a solution that we've already come up with.

The gurus here at OmniGroup already have laid a very rudimentary foundation for a solution to this. The ability to export the project file as HTML with calendars and task lists is a step in the right direction: a project manager PUSHing information out to his resources. What we need now is a way to PULL information from his resources back into the project file.

I hope this ignites a healthy discussion…

Last edited by partydrone; 2007-11-19 at 10:53 PM..