Evolution of Workstreamr

Although few of us have been referring to Workstreamr in our blogs in the recent few weeks, the mystery around Workstreamr is now slightly clearing up. Stowe Boyd, one of the founder of Workstreamr, opened a curtain a bit more after he blogged about it yesterday. (Link – Workstreamr: Work Made Social)

I had started talking with Stowe Boyd, Sam Huleatt and Ben Schippers – the three co-founders of Workstreamr around the time of Diwali last year. (I will refer to the trio as SSB going forward in this blog). The first few weeks were spent in understanding the vision and the motivation which was driving these three guys. After about a month around the Thanksgiving time, my group – Version 1.0 – in GlobalLogic became the Engineering partner of Workstreamr and the actual implementation work started. It has been an amazing experience ever since.

One of the key focuses of SSB was to see how the social aspects of Web 2.0 can be used for fulfilling the needs of project-based work. Their argument (and I agree) was that the traditional project management mechanisms and tools in use today were built on older approaches which had an extremely linear thinking. For the sake of discussion here, let me call it “Microsoft Office” approach. In the Microsoft Office approach, Work items gets created in the Project first; they are distributed and assigned to individuals; individuals work and complete the work items. When all the work items are completed, the project is assumed to be completed. If things go wrong or unexpected, the whole process of re-calibration starts again. There is a ‘robotic’ feeling in this approach. IMO this approach simply fails in projects being completed by distributed teams.

As an organization, GlobalLogic traditionally has always been ahead of its time in adapting the modern practices in collaboration (especially associated with Web 2.0) within the organization. Tools like Wikis, Trackers, Instant Messaging, Bloggers, etc. are a common part of our day-to-day operations. (On the side note – I recently realized that everyone in my team is following everyone else’s work on Twitter). We call these as the “Productivity Enhancement Tools”. So in a sense we very quickly found ourselves aligning very closely with SSB‘s ideas. Also, having been in the Global/Distributed Product Development business for a long time now, we know that the needs for a platform like Workstreamr which facilitated the social aspects of collaboration and project management exists. IMO, I think this was a key ingredient for our successful collaboration till-date.

One of the powerful mechanisms which Workstreamr uses is the concept of ‘Streams’. Rather than one-on-one or one-to-many direct communication, Workstreamr pushes the concept of collaboration over ‘stream’ of information which individuals can subscribe, filter, or ignore based on their needs. Having said this, I understand that there are many other tools that are introducing the concept of streams in some or the other manner. Atlassian JiRA is one such example. However, the concept of ‘typed post’ which Stowe talks about in his blog is one of the big differentiator for Workstreamr.

For anyone interested in trying out Workstreamr, Workstreamr is taking in requests for registration for Beta at www.workstreamr.com (it is on a first-come-first-serve basis).

Along with SSB, my team and I are also very excited about how Workstreamr is shaping up.

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