Groove tackles project management

Groove Networks Inc. on Tuesday rolled out a project management version of its desktop collaboration software designed to help distributed project teams work together more effectively.

Groove Workspace Project Edition bundles project-based collaboration tools from Bellevue, Wash.-based TeamDirection Inc. TeamDirection's Project offering includes project creation tools, status view, role-based permissions, and integration with Microsoft Project. TeamDirection Dashboard, meanwhile, provides cross-project views, filtering and sorting capabilities, and related discussion access.

Because project management tools are separate from collaboration and communication products, cross-team and cross-company projects usually require the use of multiple, disconnected applications. This often forces project managers to manually re-enter project updates into a static project document, which is then distributed to team members, according to officials at Groove, in Beverly, Mass.

To improve and simplify that process, the Project Edition of Groove Workspace lets project managers create a workspace, and add data manually or through a link to an existing project template or Microsoft Project plan. Team members, who are invited to the workspace via e-mail or instant messaging, each receive a shared, synchronized copy of the tools and project data.

Groove software's multi-level presence awareness shows which team members are online and active in the workspace, allowing immediate decision making and problem resolution, according to Groove officials. In addition, Groove can automatically synchronize project changes to each team member's PC, even if the workers are offline.

One of the biggest benefits of the Groove and TeamDirection offering is that it helps distribute project accountability throughout the team, said Richard Eckel, vice president of marketing communications at Groove.

"In a Groove space the whole team can see the tasks. If I am responsible for delivering something, it is now shared with everyone on the team as opposed to me sending an e-mail to team members," he said. "By working in the TeamDirection project management tools all members of the team are aware of the project status."

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