Imagine No Project Managers…

By Paul Ford

First: No insult to project managers (or John Lennon fans). We love project managers! Aboard employs and needs professional project managers who help us get our work done and help our teams coordinate. And we hope project managers use Aboard all the time. We built Aboard with them in mind. Nothing beats humans keeping an eye on things.

But…there’s a huge class of tasks that we do as people using computers—at work, with our loved ones, with our friends—that involve making lots of little bits of data, updating them together, and acting on them. People don’t think of these as projects—they think of them as “documents” or “spreadsheets.” But these are the sticky, annoying tasks that are too small for a project manager to get involved—or shouldn’t need one. A few examples:

  • Househunting with your spouse through multiple real estate listings (houses/addresses)
  • Planning a big Thanksgiving with your family (dishes)
  • Organizing your family trip to Europe (destinations)
  • Planning your church newsletter (articles)
  • Choosing what to read in book club, and tracking what people think about books (books)
  • Managing projects in your virtual agency of five freelancers (projects)
  • Lowering the electricity usage at your factory (consumer)
  • Getting 50 people to upload their headshots for the “About Us” web page on the website (people)
  • Running a small blog or shared social accounts (post)

Those words in parentheses? Those are data types—we call them “Cards” in Aboard, and you organize them into “Workspaces.” But jargon aside it’s pretty familiar-looking to anyone who uses a computer: There are fields to fill out, cards to move around, chat windows to type into. Nothing very surprising. Which is on purpose.

But we have a secret agenda—to make it really easy to see your data as data, and then make it easy for individuals and groups to clean up and organize your data. Typically only programmers and Excel gurus talk about data. We think that should change. You should control your own data—with your team and friends.

No one “project manages” a Google doc. They just invite each other.

What’s different is where we put the emphasis: We built Aboard to really shine in situations where you’d normally invite people to a Google Doc or Google Spreadsheet, to share in tasks where you’re making little piles of data and trying to organize, sort, and improve them. No one “project manages” a Google doc. They just invite each other.

You can use it for the big stuff, too—but there are lots of “big” tools for managing data, like Salesforce. We really wanted to sweat the small stuff, for small groups, with a focus on making it incredibly fast to invite people, add data fields, and import data. We’re glad you’re here, and we’re just getting started.