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Project Management and Cloud Computing

Wouldn’t it be nice not to have sticky notes with important passwords scribbled on them lying by your desk or hanging on your monitor in plain sight? Wouldn’t it be convenient to have access to your documents or reports or messages from clients without having to traverse through your infinitely long email folders?

Similarly, wouldn’t it be fantastic to be able to work from your office, your comfy couch at home, or a nearby coffee shop, or better yet, your daughter’s ballet class?

The Good Old Days

Coming from an academic background, I was used to having to carry around passwords in a KeePass folder or remembering to upload the latest version of the MS Project folder if I needed to work from home. Or, uploading all working documents to the intranet before logging out for the day.

In the last few months I have been at Pure Visibility, my routines and processes have changed quite drastically. And, for the better, I must say.

Now: Pure Visibility Project Management

At Pure Visibility, we use a variety of different cloud computing tools on a daily basis. Here are our favorites.

  • Basecamp
  • Even though it initially felt like several things to recall every time I did my project management tasks, now it is like second nature and I wonder if I know any other way at all! Messages from team members and clients are safely stored on Basecamp, a convenient tool that helps me sift through my emails and ensures that our team has one place to access message threads, reports, documents, milestones, or you name it, pertaining to client requests.

  • MailManagr
  • Do you have really long message threads with attachments that need to be distributed to your team as well as archived? No worries – use MailManagr, and it doesn’t mess up the file formats and the syntax is quite intuitive.

  • Socialtext
  • Our wiki, Socialtext, is where we store our internal procedures, policies, operations information, and everything else useful to us in our daily work. Having a wiki keeps everything centrally located and it’s very easy to add, edit, and delete information; and, to train new team members!

  • LastPass
  • Passwords, as we all know, are not only sensitive data but ever-changing to ensure the continued security of systems. The latter making it quite taxing for teams to keep in sync with the IT folks, and may result in major inconveniences at off-site meetings if a system is not available as soon as the password is changed. LastPass to the rescue – not only can you access this without having to carry a jump-drive with KeePass or other local programs, now, we can use the cloud to distribute it on the fly.

  • Harvest
  • Need to log billable time on a daily basis, Harvest, an online time tracking and invoicing system helps us switch from projects/tasks with an easy to use interface and multiple customizable options. Indeed, creating projects and sub-projects along with discipline tasks is a breeze, thus helping us keep this application in sync with our internal Basecamp and Wiki.

  • Expensify
  • Meeting your clients in person at their office or stepping out for a quick coffee to catch up with your team? You know these expenses add up and at the end of the month filling out expense reports to get reimbursed can be cumbersome, and quite frankly, off-putting. Well, it’s not if you have Expensify, this nifty program is available online bundled with a convenient app for smartphones.

    Click a photo of the receipt and upload it using your phone, or scan and upload receipts to the website. It’s even conveniently linked up to our company credit cards and assembles our credit charges, too. Our set-up is quite fancy, in that managers can approve team members’ expenses online as well. Better yet, it will send reminders to managers for approvals to ensure we meet our company deadlines. No more excuses to submit or approve expense reports now, is there?

  • Salesforce.com
  • To acquaint myself with our clients, I used the Wiki, Basecamp, project documentation, and reports but another invaluable resource is our CRM, Salesforce.com. It gives me on-the-fly access to ever-changing client details like contact information, titles, and accounts information. And, it is a great way to log information on our prospective clients as well, such as emails, phone calls, and sales details. So, the communication thread is easily available and sorted to help any (new) team member catch up at any time during the sales cycle.

  • Google Documents
  • Google Documents is a wonderful collaborative tool that we use not only internally to share documents or spreadsheets by multiple team members; but it has become a lifesaver for client collaboration tasks as well. Whether sharing budget forecasts, time planning, tasks distribution, and even for social purposes like emergency phone numbers to go out for a cup of coffee!

  • WebEx
  • Another neat program I’m familiar with these days is WebEx, which is an online web conferencing solution. Ideally, we’d love to be able to meet in person every time but we all know how difficult that can be, however with Webex’s phone and chat options as well as the ability to share screens among participants, we are a step closer to achieving the face-to-face time.

    All I can say is: at the end of the day, I don’t carry a bunch of paper documents; or a special drive with passwords; or slips of paper with my daily time sheet; or wads of receipts to submit my expenses. I just pack up my laptop and I am off to continue work wherever I please.

    Well, almost anywhere I please, that is—as I sit precariously on this particular ledge balancing my laptop on one leg and looking for a wireless signal at my daughter’s dance studio! Nevertheless, I enjoy the convenience of the cloud for project management work, as well as the comfort of knowing I didn’t forget something important on my desk, or worse, somewhere else!

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    About Gayathri Sriram

    Gayathri Sriram, a Bangalorean, moved to Michigan nearly fourteen years ago as an Electronics Engineer. Studying for her Masters in Business Information Systems at Eastern Michigan University and working as a programmer/manager at Institute of Language Information and Technology honed her project management experience. Gayathri’s strong organizational skills and her ability to see the big picture led her to quickly move into project management and director roles. Gayathri is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and has extensive linguistic, international, and IT experience and draws on these in her role as Director of Client Services at Pure Visibility. Gayathri enjoys working with the PV team to ensure that client goals and expectations are met and that all of Pure Visibility’s customers see bottom-line results and a great return on their investment. You can follow Gayathri on Google+

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