Archive for : Collaboration

activeCollab is changing, and you get to help decide it’s future!

If you’ve been buried in your work like most busy project managers you may not stay up to date with all things activeCollab — so you may not have seen or heard about the Next version that’s been leaked out via a Teaser Video from the activeCollab team.   If not, you can see it here.

But even more important than the teaser, is the opportunity to let your voice be heard regarding their newest version. If you haven’t seen this yet, activeCollab has sent out a recent survey to get feedback from customers on the future of the Self-Hosted edition.

For those using the Self-hosted version, it’s especially important as it will give the activeCollab team direct feedback on what influenced you to choose the self-hosted solution to be sure your needs are being considered.

Go ahead — Take the survey now, I can wait :).  Or, read on for more thoughts on the next version.

Click to Fill Out the ActiveCollab Survey

It’s Getting Exciting

We’re all excited about this new version. We’ve always been early adopters ourselves, as are many of you. But, as you can imagine for us as 3rd party developers who build on top of another platform — there’s always an uneasy feeling that comes along with the excitement of a new major release.  There’s much anticipation as we all wait to see what’s changed so we can begin the potentially labor intensive process to update our modules.

Of course, we want to get our hands on the new version to try it out! But we also want to be sure we can continue to solve those problems you came to us to solve — so you can continue to manage your projects smoothly without interruption.

So much has changed in the activeCollab landscape over the years, especially in the last one – with the introduction of the AC Cloud to support those who wanted an easy out of the box solution without having to setup their own hosting . As easy as it can be to setup AC, it’s still intimidating for some users, so it’s nice they have this platform to get started.

By the way, hosting activeCollab isn’t as hard as some make it look— you may be surprised to learn that we host our own activeCollab for less than $10 per month.  If you need help with this, definitely reach out.

When it comes to Self-Hosting vs Cloud, for some users as many of you already know, the self-hosted version is the only option. There are some key benefits of activeCollab that are only available in the Self-hosted edition….

  • Company policies that require hosting on in-house servers for privacy and security reasons
  • The ability to tweak existing features in order for them to fit the workflow
  • Off the shelf 3rd party modules that can be downloaded and installed
  • The ability to develop your own fully custom new features or workflow solutions that go beyond what’s available via the API

This is especially important for those needing all out custom solutions like the ones we’ve built for Enterprises, Hotel Groups, Restaurants, Startups, Universities and more.

 

Staying True to the Origin of activeCollab

The self-hosted solution was activeCollab’s origin — In my opinion, their key differentiator in many ways as very few solutions allowed for customization or even the availability of downloadable add-on modules.   It’s without a doubt the reason why we started using it in the beginning ourselves — many years before we became ActiveLabs to help others be more productive with it.

I bet it’s part of your story too — after all, you are receiving this email or reading this blog post because somewhere along the way you were looking for modules, custom development help or consulting assistance from us.   And we’re very thankful to activeCollab and the A51 team for making such a flexible self-hosted solution for our own needs and also for the community that’s grown around the app. Not to mention the business, we’ve been able to build dedicated to helping others in this community.

 

The Good News

What’s great, is that even with the addition of the AC Cloud — activeCollab has acknowledged the continued need for the self-hosted edition, and that’s amazing to see.  With the growth of the cloud, I’m sure there could be the temptation to leave the self-hosted version behind for greener SAAS pastures, but I respect that they are recognizing their roots and making a renewed commitment to the self-hosted users that helped them get to where they are today.  It says a lot.

 

What’s Coming Up in the Next Version?

Now here’s where you come in. There’s a big part you can play in the Next edition — call it activeCollab 5 or activeCollab Next — we’re not sure.

Yes, they are keeping it that hush, we haven’t seen it beyond what you’ve seen in the teaser, which is hard for us.  You’ve been reaching out to ask us, ‘Will my module be compatible? How about that custom development we did, will it be hard to update?’

And unfortunately, the answer is –  We don’t knowbecause we don’t know how much the codebase has changed.  But even more unsure is the state of customization altogether.

 

The Future of 3rd Party Modules & Customization

Why do I say this?  Because it seems this question is a high priority on the survey —- that’s where we need your help.  As a power activeCollab user, you may be relying on many 3rd party modules from our colleagues in this space like AppsMagnet, UsWebstyle, ZingDev, Triotech, ActiveCollabMod and others, not to mention our own modules or any customization since it’s all done with modules. I know WE do, along with many of our consulting clients.

We even have some modules you’ve never seen before that haven’t been released because of the unsure nature of the activeCollab marketplace over the last while.  I know my other colleagues in the space have probably felt very similar over the last few years. They are mostly maintaining modules rather than investing in new solutions because the ecosystem of the community is a difficult one with an ever changing landscape and less and less exposure available to new customers with the focus on the Cloud and the removal of the Downloads area from their new website, along with the recent announcement that the public forums on the site will soon be discontinued.

And for those of you who use them, you know that they can make a big difference in the day to day operation when you find one that fits your workflow needs.

 

You Owe it to Yourself

I’m not asking you to help us by manipulating your survey answers, we just want to be sure your voice is heard!   — You owe it to yourself to know that your vote is in for what is important to you.  Take the survey, because it matters to you and those like you who rely on the flexibility of the self-hosted version with custom solutions and 3rd party modules…My concern is that, those who invest in these improvements are often busy improving their business and not always the ones who have the time or interest in filling out surveys.

 

What if Add-ons and Modules didn’t exist?

I understand, we are all busy and doing another survey isn’t exactly at the top of our list, but please don’t  miss the importance of this.

If modules don’t exist, activeCollab becomes like every other web-based project management system – you rely on the development team to know what’s best for you.   And if that happens, those of us who rely on customization to make our workflows actually WORK will be back to work arounds and external api solutions that mean going outside the system for a solution. Many of our customers came from other tools like Basecamp that aren’t customizable and they ended up stuck doing workarounds and were tired of it.

I want what’s best for activeCollab and for all those using it — sure we wouldn’t be here today as ActiveLabs if they didn’t support 3rd party modules so you may think I’m biased. But I’m more biased by the day-to-day interactions with customers like you, who use our products and many of the other 3rd party modules to work smarter by smoothing out their workflows.   And by those that have relied on the flexibility of custom developed modules whether created internally or with our help to go beyond the One Size Fits All solutions out there and really support their specific workflows.

To all those who like to keep their options open, you know who you are — cast your vote for the benefit of all activeCollab users.

We hope activeCollab will continue to maintain support for 3rd party modules and custom development — and even continue to expand the API to allow us to do more within the framework to help you to collaborate!

Thanks for taking the time to read this today and if you have your own thoughts and concerns about activecollab Next/ 5.x please share any comments or questions below  or contact us privately.

And again if you haven’t filled out the survey yet, please take a couple minutes to do that now.

 

 

Does Working Together Yield Weaker Results?

I read an interesting article today about The Collaboration Paradox over at 99U — they touch on the topic of whether collaboration leads to more or less productivity within teams.

Personally I’ve always had the feeling that 1+1=2 or even 1+1 = 3 but there’s definitely factors where this equation breaks down. In the post, they explore and deconstruct this with some valuable insight on where collaboration normally suffers and how to be sure you are avoiding some common pitfalls.

A key takeaway that’s very relevant in project management with activeCollab or any software…

“Delineating responsibilities at the start of a project gives everyone at the table direction and a sense of ownership.”

Ron Friedman via 99U

Worth a read!

Read the full article The Collaboration Paradox @ 99U

 

And if you haven’t seen 99U before, they put out some great articles and resources like the book: Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind (The 99U Book Series)

 

What tips do you have for keeping collaboration from weakening your results?

Are you ready to make collaboration easier?

Introducing EasyCollab…

A new way to see and focus on what’s happening in your projects, in just one click from Firefox and Chrome without logging into your activeCollab! Why? Because we’ve found that even one more click can ruin your productivity by creating a disconnect between you and what needs to get done.

Not to mention how logging into your email to see a notification from activeCollab can send you and your team into a black hole of newsletters and social networking notifications instead of getting your work done.

EasyCollab Pro – Assignment List

With EasyCollab Pro, you’ve got a list of exactly what you need to do — with gentle notifications, to remind you to check in on recent activity right where you need it.

Assignments List Sort by

You may remember a couple weeks ago we invited a group of user’s to get an early look — well now’s your chance! Starting today for a limited time, EasyCollab Pro is available at one special price for your whole team! — 1 user or 100 users, just one low price of $79/year.

Setup is easy!

Within minutes your team can start seeing their lists of Tasks grouped by Project and Milestone — and can easily dig into a more advanced view with features like Filtering, Sorting and more.

See what you need to get done in a snap!

Filter by Label — To zoom in on areas of the workflow to batch your work – i.e. Knock out all the Feedback you need to get done.

Filter by Label

Filter by Project — Drill into a specific project on the fly, to stay focused and limit distractions!

Filter by Project

And more! Plus even more too come…

Are you ready to improve your productivity?


We hope you’ll join us in making collaboration easier by picking up EasyCollab today at this special limited time only price.

If you have any questions, please reply and we’d be happy to help.

Nathan

P.S. – Remember, as with all our activeCollab products we offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee, try it for 60 days, if you find it’s not making your team more productive — get a full refund!

Projects can be unpredictable… and that’s OK

keep calm and expect the unexpectedWell, if there is one thing predictable about projects… it’s that they are unpredictable.

Maybe we could argue that the people, places and things that are involved in projects are really the ones that throw off any sense or notion that things will go as planned, but in the end what’s most important is that we know… we accept it and prepare for it.

Now that we know, what can we do about it?

Some book titles conveniently come to mind right away… Don’t sweat the small stuff and Expect the unexpected …. the theme here being: Focus on your perspective and creativity to take on a challenge. Since it’s not humanly possible to be prepared for everything, you can still be in principle… “Ready for anything”

I find the more I accept it and set my expectations, the better equipped I am for the changes in direction, climate and velocity of a project. We all want things to go smoothly but allowing for some flexibility, can go a long way to reducing stress levels, creating better long term business relationships …and probably at home too. *I’ve yet to see someone who didn’t have problems with at least a little cross contamination between work and home life when it comes to stress… maybe you could be the first? 😉

What are some ways we try to expect the unexpected while not sweating the small stuff?

  • Leaving yourself some breathing room when scheduling — even just thinking “maybe this project might not follow my rigidly set plan” could help
  • Being realistic about projects from the beginning and not taking on something with a deadline you can’t or don’t want to meet (yes, we’re talking about stress again here)
  • Don’t write checks that a certain unmentionable part of your body can’t cash 😉
  • Get to know yourself and your team better — the less that is unexpected, the less you have to guess what to expect.
  • Apologize when you see that you have been the cause of a delay – sweeping it under the rug doesn’t help. Promise to do better next time. But get it resolved quickly.
  • Communicate ( Just being honest, this is the hardest one for me — I’m working on it – I don’t like letting people down, and sometimes forget to communicate until I know the answers that are holding things up )
  • This last one might seem counter intuitive — but sometimes the best thing to keep from sweating the small stuff, is to get away from it all and do something else you love… come back fresh and ready to handle the twists and turns of the project. For me, that’s basketball, yoga, reading or a nap(that’s sounds like another blog post, the wonders of exercise and power naps — stay tuned).

So what’s your perspective?…

  • Do you expect projects to go smoothly?
  • Do you build a little room into your projects for the unexpected?
  • When a project takes on a life of its own… how do you adapt?

The collaboration happens in the comments, share your thoughts… we all get a little better at expecting the unexpected.