The Project Notebook

Tree of Knowledge

[Note: This is the weekend of the 2008 PMI Region 7 Spring Leadership Meeting, I have a client trip next week, and I’m in the home stretch of recording my UCSD Extension Class Lectures. I apologize for missing last week’s post. I will have the announcement for the PMP Challenge Question contest winners, if any, on 3/15/ Thanks for staying with me!]

Knowledge bases have always been handy tools for Project Managers. They can hold information about projects, systems, and methodologies and organize them in an easy to find manner. While at GE Information Sevices, I used a DOS based pop up tool that took text notes, including any electronic messages I could get in that form, and provide an instant index on any word. It was great for its time.

Fast forward to the 90s and while with Cambridge Technology Partners, I had access to an online searchable knowledge base. At the end of every project, the PM was responsible for zipping up all project documents and forwarding to headquarters. There someone would divide them up into catagories such as requirements documents, project plans, project charters, etc. and put them in a searchable database. Whenever I had to produce any form of document, I could read tens, if not hundreds or more prior examples and use them to make my own template. Again, it was great for its time.

For the past couple of months, I’ve been working the a PMI colleague and friend, Ken Wolsey, to look at a tool his company, Knowledge System Solutions is working on called episTree. Now I can organize all my notes into easy-to-use tree structures and drag and drop any file types, including web sites and email messages into the tree. To give you a quick example how handy this is, I used it to create a customer reference. I first had to locate the original contract from 7 years ago — drag and drop. Then I had to find their RFP response — another drag and drop. At various times, I added their current contract, their client site URL, the template for customer references, and example of a previous customer reference, and a number of other files. When the day finally came that I had to write the reference, right there in my to-do list tree was all the information I needed. A few cuts, pastes, and edits later I had a multi-page customer reference prepared.

Now you might think a tool like this would go for hundreds of dollars. Ken and his company are offering it free to PMI San Diego members as well as Board members for all of Region 7. For those not in these groups, the cost is only $90 (there’s a student version for $50). The San Diego members are getting a knowledge base of Agile Programming information. The Region 7 Boards are getting all the presentations, tools, and templates from the meeting. What’s more, I’ve had a preview of a new episTree Trainer application which can use the knowledege base to generate web pages. I shared this with a colleague at work a few days ago, and all she could say was “WOW!”.

If you have an opportunity, you may want to visit http://www.epistree.com/ and check this handy PM tool out.

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© 2010-2012 Ray W. Frohnhoefer, MBA, PMP, CCP