Should you be friends with your coworkers?

My previous blog post  covered the increasing use of Agile development methods in mainstream and large scale projects.  Another trend that L. Leroy Ward of ESI International listed in his recent article on the top 10 trends in Project Management for 2012 is Collaboration.

In this post, I’ll discuss the use of collaboration software as an integral tool for project teams.   Project success depends on timely communication within the project team and sharing of information to get tasks completed.  The ability for teams to easily share information and interact with each other quickly and effortlessly can positively impact project results.

A crucial technology that makes this possible is cloud computing which provides a platform to bring together collaboration tools and a centralized data repository to manage projects.  This technology along with social acceptance of sharing information online has given rise to numerous applications that integrate social and functional aspects into a single tool. Project Management tool vendors have noticed this shift and have created applications that integrate cloud and social networking to provide teams with a powerful set of tools.   Products such as Teambox, ProjecTruf, Teamwork PM, BaseCamp, Huddle and numerous other web-based project management tools are being adopted and used by project teams worldwide.

I work for a large multi-national technology company with global development teams across at least 3-4 different time-zones that work together on various projects.  For years, we have used internally developed communication tools which were not integrated with our project management tool; however, we are now in the process of selecting an integrated web-based tool that will combine project tracking and reporting capabilities of project management along with collaboration tools.   I see a lot of positives in using a tool that seamlessly integrates collaboration with project management. For one, the global nature of our teams and business lends itself to the use of such tools.  Second, the ability to easily access key documents anywhere anytime is essential in an increasingly mobile workplace.  I see this trend being widely adopted by the business community.

Have you used any web-based project management tools?  What are your experiences in using them on small and/or large projects?