Blog Posts

Using Google Wave for GTD, Scrums and Project Management

Our team takes on using Google Wave for productivity, events, agendas and generally getting things done (GTD).
Using Google Wave for GTD, Scrums and Project Management

Using Google Wave for GTD, Scrums and Project Management

I was very skeptical when Google Wave was announced over a year ago. I signed up for the beta, started a few waves then went on to ignore it for the next year. When Google announced it was to be bundled into Google Apps with single sign on, I decided to give it another try and invited some co-workers into the water with me.

We have not worked the same since.

The email traffic at Arkus has gone down tremendously as we move from sending emails to "just throwing it in a wave." While we are constantly coming up with new ways to use Google Wave, here are some that have taken hold so far.

Scrums

We are an agile methodology shop, but not geographically close, so stand up meetings in the morning don't work that well. Instead we have a weekly scrum wave that we put our "big rock" tasks. Each task gets a time value and crossed out when complete. We start off each Monday with a new weekly wave, add to it in a bulleted list every day commenting and updating as the real work gets done.

Agenda & Meeting Notes

If meetings are the plague of corporate productivity, agendas are part of the cure. A good clear cut agenda, sent out before the meeting and stuck to during the meeting can keep things on track, on time and with clear roles. During the meeting we add followups and action items to the wave. Again, a simple bulleted list does most of the work. During meetings and conference calls we use a wave to capture all notes and the real-time nature of Google Wave shines as we track what notes others are writing. I can gently remind a co-worker of something to cover on the call by just adding it to the wave, like instant messenger they see it and can react.

Goals

While corporate goals can form the start of a dictatorship we use them as a way to drive forward on what we want to accomplish. Yearly goals are looked at monthly to come up with monthly goals which we break down into categories of opportunities, projects, marketing and business. Before starting off a weekly scrum wave we go over the monthly goals and see what next action we can take to push those bigger projects along. We don't always get there, but setting our sights on the end helps us focus from day to day. There is nothing better than crossing off a big goal during the month and letting everyone else in the wave know it is done.

Projects

A new wave is started for every client project. Notes, agendas, screenshots and comments all go into the wave as the project continues. Links to other project tracking tools as well as action items get recorded in the wave and checked off when complete. When we have action items in one wave for a project, we link to that wave from our weekly scrum wave to keep everything in context as we work through tasks.

Google Wave has really changed a lot of the way we work, coordinate and collaborate on a day to day basis. This blog post was first started on a wave, sent out for invitation and commented on all before being posted to the website.

To learn more about Google Wave check out the main page wave.google.com or ask us on Twitter or Facebook.

We also cover this type of stuff on our new weekly podcast entitled CloudFocus.

Whats Up with Facebook and WhatsApp?

With the recent announcement of the purchase of WhatsApp by Facebook I figured I’d give a run down of what WhatsApp is and how I’ve been using it for the last few years. I’ll add in a few things I hope Facebook does with it and a few that I hope they don’t do.
Whats Up with Facebook and WhatsApp?

Whats Up with Facebook and WhatsApp?

My Introduction to WhatsApp

For the last three years a group of five friends of mine have been using WhatsApp to communicate with each other in group chats. Years prior we all had been using BBM to chat in groups over data networks but now we were splintered on iOS, Blackberry, and Android (in the last year everyone has moved off of Blackberry). When looking for a way to keep our group chats going we found the useful app WhatsApp. At it’s core it is a cross platform messaging application that allows for individual or group chats that go out over data networks and not utilize the all valuable “text messages”. I personally love that the messages go out over the data network as I’m sometimes in places where there is no cellular service (seriously, I know) yet I do have wifi therefore I can still “text” with friends.

WhatsApp vs. iMessage

To this day we continue to use WhatsApp even though almost everyone in the group is on iOS and could use iMessage. The main reason we continue to use WhatsApp is because of the one Android holdout but even still, if everyone was on iOS, I believe we would continue to use WhatsApp. WhatsApp has a much better user experience for group chatting then iMessage does. The interface for group chats displays more like an inbox with a “name” for the group chat which is really helpful in identifying which chat you are in at any given time as opposed to the way iMessage does it with just displaying people’s names separated by a comma. If there are more than two people in the conversation then you aren’t exactly sure which group you are in; this is why I prefer WhatsApp to iMessage for group messaging.

Facebook Messenger Fail?

Facebook tried a few years back to revamp their messaging platform and even released a standalone messaging application that seamlessly integrated with the core service. In my opinion it has fallen flat and obviously hasn’t taken off the way that Facebook would have wanted. Why else would Facebook spend a reported $19 billion on a messaging platform? So what can Facebook bring to the table to make WhatsApp better? I actually hope that they do nothing to the application itself aside from bring more users onto the messaging service. The other thing they could do is make the application work on the iPad, hopefully Facebook can use it’s sheer size to get Apple to allow the application to be installed on the iPad. Aside from that, I’d like for Facebook to leave well enough alone. Don’t integrate it into Facebook, don’t require a Facebook login to use the app, and don’t mix my contacts up inside of WhatsApp with my Facebook friends unless I explicitly allow it.

Why WhatsApp?

To me Facebook just spent a whole lot of money on a feature that they already had built years ago. Clearly they are covering gaps with user adoption with this purchase. Messaging is a huge play on the mobile device and Facebook messenger wasn’t even an option for me. I have been using SMS, iMessage, and WhatsApp for years and don’t even think of Facebook messenger. WIth this purchase, I can still not think about Facebook messenger but I will be using a Facebook product for messaging and I think that’s the way Facebook wants it.

Please feel free to comment below, on our facebook page, or directly at me on Twitter @JustEdelstein.