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I would love a kGTD styled app that could allow a team of people working on several different workstations to collaborate on a shared task list. Preferably, but not necessarily, in realtime.

<analogy>

By way of analogy, the problem I'm trying to model might be similar to what a restaraunt would want to use to visualize everything that's going on at any given time:
  • The maitre'd checks in people and seats them; new project task.
  • A waiter gets the orders and brings them to the kitchen; a set of new subproject tasks.
  • One or more cooks prepares the food and hands it off to the waiter to bring to the table; the subprojects get checked off as they are completed.
  • Dessert orders are taken, prepared, and delivered; a new round of subtasks created & completed.
  • The party pays the tab and leaves; the project task is now done.

At any given time, there might be dozens of these tasks in process, and in for, say, the maitre'd to be able to accurately tell incoming people things like how long the current wait for a table is, they have to have a reasonably accurate sense of the current volume of all these tasks, how long they can be expected to take, etc.

Plus, the maitre'd needs to have enough info to be flexible, so that if Abe Froman (the sausage king of Chicago) shows up with his entourage, the restaraunt finds a way to both accomodate these unexpected priority jobs while still being as fair as possible to the people that were already being served or waiting to be served.

As a bonus, if this "restaraunt" variant of what I'm describing could do more "project management"-y things like resource allocation, scheduling, process improvements, infrastructure upgrades, etc, that's fine, but let's assume they already have systems in place for such things, and the unmet need to fill is primarily just visualizing day-to-day operations. For an individual, kGTD could do this pretty well, but it quickly starts to exceed its comfort zone when trying to coordinate things for people that are working very closely together like this.

</analogy>

Maybe this collaborative-GTD mode could work via the magic of Bonjour, sort of like how SubEthaEdit does for collaborating on text documents. I think that works via the BEEP protocol, but they're vague about that. Maybe it could work in a client-server mode, or it could some leverage syncing to iCal (and thus .Mac &/or Leopard's calendar server) to coordinate data across multiple peers. I don't so much care about how it gets implemented as long as it works well. :-)

This doesn't quite seem to be a job for OmniPlan, as I'm not really describing a tool for charting out resources and milestones and deliverables and schedules and that sort of thing. Much simpler than all that. Just a large volume of well-defined tasks, facets of which get handled by different people in different contexts, and providing a way to have a easy-to-manage and reasonably up to date view of the whole production at any given time.

If OmniFocus ends up being able to do this, super. If not, has anyone ever heard of software that does kind of work this way? I haven't been able to find anything closer than kGTD with iCal sync, which isn't really the same...
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Babbage
I would love a kGTD styled app that could allow a team of people working on several different workstations to collaborate on a shared task list. Preferably, but not necessarily, in realtime.
Agreed.

What I ended up doing to satisfy my need to assign tasks to colleageus is develop a simple "task-assigning" PHP/MYSQL set of pages on our web site. People log on, describe the actions (following GTD rules) select a context, select a team member and assign a start date or due date if necessary. When team mate in question logs on, he sees the task. When task is completed, and noted as such, (with the option of including notes of what happended when task was being accomplished) initial user who assigned task is notified, along with notes.

Works great and works really well as an integral part of the whole admin system we have developed.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by pomares
What I ended up doing to satisfy my need to assign tasks to colleageus is develop a simple "task-assigning" PHP/MYSQL set of pages on our web site. People log on, describe the actions (following GTD rules) select a context, select a team member and assign a start date or due date if necessary. When team mate in question logs on, he sees the task. When task is completed, and noted as such, (with the option of including notes of what happended when task was being accomplished) initial user who assigned task is notified, along with notes.
That's sort of what I'm talking about, but not quite. To my thinking, that's a more traditional styled "a manager assigns tasks and keeps track of them as they get done" approach. That's how previous jobs have done things, and there we've used Request Tracker for that, and it works great.

What I'm describing is a little different though. The metaphor might be a bit stretched, but it's not so far removed from the restaraunt analogy, or more specifically, a restaraunt where people get different assignments on different shifts, so one day they might be a waiter, and the next day they might be a cook. Within these roles, the tasks are well defined, and the tasks are all "event-driven", so there really isn't a need for anyone to be handing out assignments like that, as everyone already knows what the duties for a given role are.

What is needed, rather than assignment delegation, is simple information sharing. To give some examples of how it would be useful:
  • The waiters need to know if the kitchen is running low on a key ingredient for a popular dish so that they can stop taking orders for it, and provide alternatives.
  • The maitre'd needs to know how busy the kitchen is, so that if a big-shot customer shows up without a reservation, they can find a way to accomodate that customer.
  • If the big shot wants the dish with the ingredient that is running low, the waiters need to know whether they should accomodate the request (and possibly make other patrons upset), or turn them away (and possibly lose business in the long run).
  • The people in the morning will want to know from the people closing the night before about important reservations for the upcoming day, supplies that need to get restocked, issues left over from the day before, etc.

The metaphor is, admittedly, strained, but it isn't so far off the mark. The environment being described involves a group of people collaborating on a shared set of tasks. There isn't really anyone delegating the work, as everyone already does that for themselves depending on what their role for the day happens to be. The bottleneck ends up being simple communication and information sharing: without some sort of system to maintain a current "big picture" view of what's going on, everyone is having to spend too much time just manually reorienting themselves to the current (and constantly evolving) status quo.

A better metaphor, or at least a closer one, might be people collaborating on an open source application, where there isn't necessarily any one "leader" -- at least not in an authoritarian, micromanaging sense -- as much as there is a series of people contributing towards a shared goal, with an incoming stream of tasks that need attention (like say a mailing list, bug reporter, web site forum, etc) plus ongoing forward efforts. The people are more or less free to contribute wherever they can, but it's easier to manage if there's an overall view of just want needs to be getting done.

(I think the distributed-computing term for the sort of problem I'm describing is "embarassingly parallel", except that while the components of the overall problem get worked on independently, it's easier to make forward progress with the kind of communication & information sharing I'm asking for, and true EP problems -- the kind that run well on Beowulf clusters -- work well with basically no intercommunication at all.)

Anyway, if OmniFocus can do this sort of thing -- in short, provide a real-time list of all the ongoing group tasks that anyone in the group can update any facet of, and everyone can see what just got finished and what remains to be done at any given time -- then it would be a great tool for us.
 
I can imagine that implementing collaboration features, as described in this and other threads will create more work.

I just want to register my vote that I would pay extra for these features. Also, it's important to note that collaboration features are strongly correlated to "group licenses", bulk licenses, etc.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by samaparicio
I can imagine that implementing collaboration features, as described in this and other threads will create more work.

I just want to register my vote that I would pay extra for these features. Also, it's important to note that collaboration features are strongly correlated to "group licenses", bulk licenses, etc.
It is more work, sure, but SubEthaEdit is itself existence proof that the capabilities I'm looking for are a solved problem that just needs to be re-implemented properly.

Underneath the covers, an OmniOutliner document is primarily just an XML document, and XML is basically just text.

SubEthaEdit provides a way for collaborators to work on text documents and, in real time, see what changes the other collaborators are making. Not only that, but it uses color to highlight who wrote which sections, so that a glance you can see who contributed to the shared document.

All OmniFocus would have to do is take SubEthaEdit's collaboration ability as-is and apply it towards the XML file at the heart of an OmniOutliner document, and presto change-o, my wish list is up and running at a stroke.

It's a simple matter of programming! :-)
 
 


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