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Creating a 30-Day Wiki Challenge

Since the early 90s, Ward Cunningham, the inventor of the wiki, has spawned wiki development in nearly every online software tool today. In our quest to give you useful how-to information, you can learn to create a wiki site of your own—in 30 days. Why not try a recipe wiki for fun, and then take it a step further next month to build on this knowledge at work?    

A Wiki a Day Keeps the Boss Away
Collaboration Tools Spotlight10

Wikis in Public Online Communities

Wednesday April 23, 2014

Wiki tools for collaboration and knowledge exchange are not only practical but cost effective in developing public online communities. In fact, wikis are one of the essential content types in social software, in addition to blogs, forums, and commenting activity streams.

My profile of XWiki describes how the notable, cloud-based wiki and downloadable open source software products are used in public and private communities. In particular, the company XWiki SAS has supported a non-profit healthcare advocacy community in Canada that shows significant progress in what you can do with wikis.

In several other collaboration tools used for developing online communities, you will see more examples where the online community helps to bridge communication gaps, learning, and customer feedback.

To make the online community experience worthwhile, sponsors will look at developing specific outcomes. Interactive communities, as cited in the XWiki healthcare project, can offer valuable resources to patients and healthcare providers, nurture trust within the community, and help teams and communities collaborate.

Because wikis are easy to build and maintain, essentially everyone benefits.

Why Software Trials and Engagement Help Make Better Decisions

Friday April 18, 2014

Why Software Trials and Engagement Help Make Better Decisions

What may be a project sponsor's worst nightmare? When there is a software investment and only then, he or she will realize the software is complicated and no one likes the way it works.

Today's software makers understand the changing dynamics of project management software, for example, that often involves many users, as well as coordination between departments and sometimes outside consultants. If a software company does not offer a free trial, I would venture to say, don't buy it. Use these tips to help guide your selection before you buy new software:

Involve users of the software -- giving the software to users to try before you buy will save time, costs, and will help you make better decisions. Understand when citizen developers, a term used to represent business users, who can see the value in applications that help the business, will need to be involved.

Comindware Project is a new project collaboration tool I reviewed that demonstrates how easy project management software can be. Read about Comindware Project and see how this company runs their software trial.

Involve leaders who want to improve -- in Seven Things Great Employers Do on HBR.org, the authors spell out the elements that impact culture and team engagement. First, involve leaders who want to work on improving themselves. Sounds a bit flippant, but leader's involvement signals engagement. Everyone has to get past the disenchantment that happens if leaders are not engaged.

Plan for set up and training costs -- users typically have fear of new software, especially if they don't know how to use it. Furthermore, learning software takes time. John Gabrick, CEO of MindMatters, an innovation management software company says organizations should spend 10-20 percent of the total cost of software documenting the functional requirement--for your own company's specific use.

Read Gabrick's and other tips to help manage costs and customization.

Compare 3 or 4 software products --  create a pros and cons table and enable everyone to share their ideas and opinions. Your time spent up front to make decisions that are right for your company and your team's unique needs are well worth the effort.

Image copyright Shannon Fagan/Getty Images

Seasonal Approach to Feeding Our Business Networks

Tuesday April 15, 2014

gardening is like networkingOur business network is much like a garden. In spring, we amend the soil, get plants in the ground, then water, weed, and fertilize all summer long until harvest.

In the fall and winter, we share lessons learned and new gardening ideas with friends in our community (always a great topic at parties).

In my contact with Nancy Fox, a business strategist and advisor in Los Angeles, she shared tips for improving the way we network.

Nancy and I dug into the roots of networking, including obstacles along the way, as you will see in Networking in All the Right Places. As any gardener knows, you need to rotate your crops, like tomatoes and plant them in a different spot in the garden, much like you would do to meet new people.

In a similar way to gardening, a seasonal approach to networking may require us to review key strategies. We harvested two regimens needed to nurture our networks: new resources and social intelligence. Read about the insightful ways you can pursue to get out of your comfort zone. Let your network flourish.

Photo copyright John Rensten/Getty Images

PM Rock Star Tips in Managing Time, Cost, and Quality

Friday April 11, 2014

The PM Rock Star TipsThe project costs are running rampant, but quality and schedule are intact. If you are a project manager (PM), would you panic?

Think of a three-legged stool, where each of the legs are represented by time, cost, and quality.

These three legs of a stool are the same principles applied in project management's triple constraint. PM rock stars understand the art of project management is being well-balanced across all three constraints. The science of the triple constraint is excelling at managing all three with equal attention (see Southern Illinois University Symposium on Project Management).

But the three-legged stool concept, especially professional services, means at least two of the legs must remain constant for the project to succeed. If one of the three legs requires support, say costs are greater than expected, you don't necessarily lose the integrity of the project. This means project quality control and assurance comes at a price.

Keep in mind if you were to lose the integrity of two legs, the three-legged stool could not stand on its own. Think about it.

How can you improve project performance to manage all three constraints? The PM rock star suggests ranking the business priority of the triple constraints so you know where the project stands. Then, you will have to keep communication open and transparent between everyone on the project.

Additional resources:

How Collaboration Can Work for Business
Create the Opportunity to be Part of Something Greater
Are You a Citizen Developer of Business Applications?

Photo copyright Jacobs Stock Photography/Getty Images

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