Project Management, modern day: Open Atrium

Open Atrium is a project management tool that is built around collaboration of project teams and brings together the power of Blogs, Wikis, Messaging, Calendar and collaborative systems all in one. While there are some systems out there already, this is attractive as it’s stylish, new and open source. Oh and I’ve just started writing about business tools!

I’ve talked to many people in business about the modern view of intranets and how some organisations are running their entire intranet and all their projects this way, and I’ve done a series on this very blog about it, but the tools are just becoming widely available.

Here’s what the tool provides:

  • Blog: For each group that has commenting, file attachments on both the post and comments, and notifications. This replaces all the project discussions typically carried out from phone calls to full team meetings.
  • Calendar: Add events, pull in iCal and other calendar feeds which covers all online calendars and allows other calendar systems to pull out what’s in this calendar either as a whole or by task, resource, etc. This can track everything going on in the project from the smallest individual task to the assigned PM tasks. Also allows to track what has been done. An easy to use, shareable, live, project plan.
  • Group Dashboard: aka a portal. Widgets give you a snapshot of all the activity happening across your groups. Think iGoogle, in that you can turn on what you want, turn off what you don’t, and arrange it all however you’d like. Pull in the information from the calendar on your own tasks and blog posts, or the information that is relevant to your part of the project and display it to you instantly. See comments made by others on your posts, etc. Quick way to see what you need to do now.
  • Documents: A Wiki that lets you collaborate on documents, store and compare revisions, attach files, and once you’re done print out the final copy.
  • Shoutbox: Instant Messaging for the team only, the shoutbox lets you share short messages, links, and information with just the people in your group.
  • Case Tracker: A full ticketing/incident system that lets you assign to do’s and create unlimited projects within each of your groups. The case tracker also lets you classify the to do, give it a priority, and manage its status. This could be used to track problems and incidents during and even after the project.

Depending on how your business views open source this is a good or bad tool, I go with good because it allows the businesses to create their own features and, if they desire, hand them back to the main project to approve and include for all in the next release, or they can just customise the hell out of the application

Open Atrium seems a very powerful tool for project teams and it’s one I might try out with a small team just to see how it operates.

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