“He has the knowin and the doin of a lot of things.”

That’s what made the short guy on Mad Max beyond thunderdome valuable.  Masterblaster was also the name of my parents’ Thanksgiving turkey.

But it’s the “knowin” and the “doin” that are valuable.  And since I’ve been evaluating a lot of project management applications for my business


While the theme seems to be task lists, they all have one fata flaw.  They consider a task to be a line of text with a check box.  If only all my tasks were so easy. ActiveCollab, the only one listed above with time tracking capability, doesn’t consider the time spent on tasks worth tracking.  None of them consider that one task may be dependant upon (or block) another.

I understand that the idea of these web 2.0 tools is simplicity.  But a task list that doesn’t connect to anything else, is really not an improvement over a list on scratch paper (except it can be viewed over the internet.) A plain text file does as much, excepting the “milestones” feature — which can be approximated by scrawling “due on $x_date” at the top of the page, and then writing TODAY in big letters and circling it.

If document management were a serious feature, they’d at least work on organizing them.  What’s really needed is a way to tie documents to tasks.  Or at least discussions or messages.  Almost any task worth writing down is worth more than one line.  It could be as simple as providing a link from a task to a message|discussion|note.  And the ability to link messages|discussions|notes to one another — like a wiki, or what used to be called a “web site.”

If you have a wiki that can add attachments, a todo|task|check list is just a page.  If you’ve got the fancy strikethrough style and ordered lists, you’re a step ahead of these things.  Dependencies, importance (even if just limited to an important flag and a descope flag) are also important, and easily ignorable.

See, it’s not just the ability to do something that’s important, it’s the knowing how to do it.  You might forget what you did to accomplish task X and need to do it again — or undo it.  Or someone else needs to know how you did it, so they can duplicated it, or just satisfy Sarbanes-Oxley CYAbility.

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