Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Virtual Team Applications for Cheap

Read/WriteWeb has a good roundup of different online virtual team apps. You know, those programs that help people communicate, schedule, manage projects, etc.

Personally, I'm not a fan of virtual teams. I prefer to lock my teammates in one room for a few days and see what happens. Usually, deep bonding, or...cannibalism. I hate it when the second one happens, the OSHA paperwork for cannibalization is monumental.

The bonding, however, builds the core of any successful team. Once people have an emotional attachment to each other and share a vision, they will perform amazing feats to make sure the group succeeds. I think deep bonding is much harder to achieve with someone you only speak with over Skype.

Having said that, I think the apps in the Read/WriteWeb roundup can be useful even if your team shares an office. Especially, Basecamp, which an excellent lightweight project management app. Unless, you really love Microsoft Project.

The bottom line: When you're putting together a small company, Subscription-based web apps are your best friends. Not necessarily because they're cheap, but because you don't have to commit large amounts of capital upfront. No capital upfront allows you to both more efficiently allocate your resources, and greater flexibility. For the same reason, you should lease your servers, rather than buy them. But that's an aside. Take it from a former IT manager, if you can avoid pouring money into enterprise apps that run internally, then do it.

Oops! Gotta run, my team has been locked in the conference room for three days, and things just got really quiet, that's usually when the problems start.