In this post, we describe our exciting “MG21” (“Method Grid 2021”) development roadmap.
As our many professional users know, the solution has developed as a result of active dialogue with so many of you – who have helped us forge the continuous development of Method Grid.
Step by step, new feature by new feature, this dialogue takes us ever closer to our vision of being the world’s leading platform for building knowledge as you manage projects.
The development of our MG21 plan is no different and just to say again, a heartfelt “thank you” from all at Method Grid HQ to everyone that contributed to this – especially so as part of the 2020 survey and the User Community Symposium that followed.
Much like our 2020 Roadmap – which essentially built a powerful project and program management suite of features on top of the knowledge-centric foundation – this roadmap has the potential to transform the solution again. And, in so doing, to yet further enhance the value that you currently derive from your collaborative team accounts.
The aim of this post is to bring this roadmap to life, to explain our thinking and so that you can keep track with our release deployment (we will update it as we go).
As always, the aim is also to maintain the dialogue with our active user community – so, please let us know what you think, what you like, what you would like to see added etc.
The Method Grid solution has come a very long way from its original beta conception!
If you are interested in the history, following the first (whiteboard) concept meetings in March 2016, the first release of Method Grid appeared in December 2016 (pre-company formation):
The foundational build of Method Gridwas focused on a solution to develop, share and continuously-improve structured knowledge resources such as programmatic/staged service methodologies. Once that foundational solution was well developed, the user community surveying of 2019, led to a logical, corollary request: the development of a project management feature set to sit on top of this foundation.
The rationale for this was powerful.
Once collaborative delivery teams have invested in building out a shared knowledge resource – that guides consistent team-wide delivery standards – it is a very short logical jump to the next level of enablement: a solution that powers the actual execution of a delivery “instance” of such a playbook.
This user-led dialogue resulted in the project and programme management roadmap of 2020 that can be found here. This was a massive body of work. The holistic design of this new feature set ranged from individual productivity tools (task assignment and scheduling) through to portfolio-level, executive dash-boarding. Over the course of 2020, with over 25 releases, the incredible MG development team worked their way through this ambition.
At the end of 2020, we were able to say that Method Grid was now – uniquely – a solution that supports upper quartile organizations in consistent, quality-assured project management as predicated on a structured, ever-improving knowledge base.
In simple terms, our unique value proposition has been the thoughtful amalgamation of project management and knowledge management features in one truly-integrated solution.
Which brings us to these exciting ideas – based on all the feedback and ideas we derive from our awesome user community – that are now going to take our platform to the next level.
We are calling this next audacious bound: “MG21”.
Before we unpack this roadmap, a reminder as to our overall vision:
Method Grid is already, uniquely, a project management solution that provides collaborative teams with the knowledge resources required to deliver a structured, repeatable service or project form. In current form, we can claim it helps many leading organizations optimise individual and team-level productivity as well as to continuously improve, and build value in, their underlying intellectual property.
That said, one of the central values of the Method Grid team is that we still have a way to go towards this stretch vision: of being unequivocally recognised as the world leader in this regard. We have so many ideas (user validated) that can bring even greater value with respect to technologically-embedding these critical capabilities in their organizations.
Indeed, as a core value: we would say that the pursuit of this vision, this pursuit of excellence, comes with a degree of humility that we will never quite get there – there will always be improvements to make.
But, we are going to have some fun en route.
In the spirit of that message, this blog lays out the next strategic bound we plan to take, in continued close collaboration, with our fast-growing user base.
Key Development Themes of MG21
The organising logic for MG21 will be based on the following five key themes:
Enhanced Engagement. This theme seeks to further enhance user engagement with the application – as a function of modern UX and new, innovative views, content and feature enhancements.
Intuitive Productivity. This theme emphasises the need to make the solution effortlessly intuitive (“don’t make me think”) with a specific focus on individual productivity (task management, goal setting, reflection) and connected-team, collaborative project management aspects. This theme also includes automation and basic management information (MI) provision – as relevant to project-based teams.
Knowledge+. This theme accentuates Method Grid’s unique differentiation – as a knowledge enabler. It includes all features that facilitate the development, curation, structuring, reviewing and sharing of “best practice” resources. This theme also includes visionary components with respect to machine-learning based continuous improvement (CI) “loops” and the behavioural “nudges” – that keep this CI discipline alive.
Integration. This core theme includes both internal integration (i.e. all modules of the solution work seamlessly together) and external integration (to other solutions). External integration can be further broken down into an “Integration Centre” (developed integrations for relevant applications e.g. MS Teams, Zoom etc.) as well as the opening up of our REST API for external developers.
Deep MI. This theme talks to management information (MI) beyond the basic provision – as well as deeper analytical tools. With vision, we see this aspect facilitating insights into corporate productivity and the optimisation of repeatable “best practice” delivery templates (i.e. linking project outcomes to optimised knowledge resources and delivery behaviours).
With MG21, we seek to materially progress themes 1 to 4 and commence initial R&D “in-roads” into theme 5.
Against these five themes, we captured, mapped and prioritised all of the new feature ideas (typically deployable within fortnightly release sprints).
You can download the pdf that provides the detail of this exercise here.
Example excerpt from the Theme Detail document
MG21 Roadmap | What’s coming next …
For now [as at 25 January 2020], we are communicating the first set of releases that we aim to deliver in the first quarter of 2021.
In chronological order, these are summarised in the following table and then detailed below:
1.1 Editable (and re-orderable) file/video links in content areas
Scheduled: 18 Dec 2020 – DEPLOYED TO SCHEDULE – see release note
This release introduces greater edit facility over previously built content area items. With 1.1, grid builders can move (drag/drop) the positioning of previously developed content area items such as: file uploads, web links, video uploads and image uploads. Grid builders will also be able to re-edit title names for uploaded videos and web links.
4.1 Basic Method Grid app live in Microsoft Teams Apps Store Scheduled: Pending (progressing through Microsoft verification)
With this release, adopters of Microsoft Teams can add an embedded tab into their Team application – such that their Method Grid account is at their fingertips. They do this by adding Method Grid from the Microsoft Teams Apps store option. Multiple such tabs can be created such that, for example, a tab can be created for all project grids you are involved in. The Method Grid app allows users to choose a starting location within their Method Grid account as the default opening view. As such, users can simply enter the url of such project grids.
Now, they go straight to this grid from the embedded tab within their Microsoft Teams application. They can, of course, move around the Method Grid application from there but this default helps with their productivity focus.
Additionally, they use the pre-existing feature of chat integration to link the team chat/notification in Method Grid with a relevant project room in Microsoft Teams. When, for example, a new task is allocated to Shan, the notification appears in the matched Teams room and he can click on this to go straight back to the relevant place in Method Grid (to access related knowledge/resources etc).
2.2 Element clone via single step action button Scheduled: Wed 23 Dec 2020 – DEPLOYED TO SCHEDULE – see release note
Let’s say Sonja (our project lead avatar) is building out a “master” grid. One of the elements she has created can serve as the basis for multiple additional elements. She knows she can reference the original element as a “starting point” from within each new element she creates, but it would be more productive if she could just do a simple clone in the main grid view. With this release, Sonya can simply go into “Edit” mode, then click on the revealed clone action button on the element thumbnail.
4.2 Integration Centre O1 Scheduled: Pending 4.1
This release, pending on 4.1, will see the creation of our Integration Centre – which we plan to become a growing library of commonly-requested integrations.
1.4 UX redesign/modernisation of the menu Scheduled: Fri 29 Jan 2021 DEPLOYED TO SCHEDULE – see release note
Release 1.4 is a part of our “Enhanced engagement” journey and the continued visual-modernisation of the solution. As a first step, the main menu, currently on the top of the screen, will be brought over to the left-hand side of the viewport – and textual headings replaced with graphical icons.
UX modernisation | Updated left-hand menu
3.0 Method Grid Community Platform
Scheduled: Fri 19 Feb 2021 [Added to roadmap in Feb 2021] DEPLOYED TO SCHEDULE – see release note
In this release, we will be introducing a new “Community” section to our “Help and Support” pages.
The new Method Grid community sub-site will further enhance the growing Method Grid user base. It will be a place to ask questions, seek advice and to contribute to the general user community via discussion topic threads. We also plan to use this facility to foster specific sub-groups; for example, a place for “Professional Service” firm users’ group to discuss the application of the solution in this specific industry context (e.g. how Method Grid best used to demonstrate expertise and win sales, how IP is commercialised by leading such companies etc).
We also anticipate using this new section for more active dialogue around future (“What’s planned?”) development, latest (“What’s new?”) releases and to facilitate all dialogue concerning future ideas and suggestions into the product development team.
This sprint was added after the initial publication of the MG21 Roadmap but, based on the value it will bring immediately to to our active user community, we decided it warranted early prioritisation.
2.1 Visual-MI dashboard summary on the account overview tab Scheduled: Fri 05 Mar 2021 – DEPLOYED TO SCHEDULE – see release note
Harry (our senior executive user avatar) prepares for his weekly practice area meeting. His team leader colleagues are currently delivering c. 60 live commissions. “How is our delivery portfolio performing to plan overall?” and “which projects/colleagues most need my support – and where?” are his key thoughts.
With a cup of coffee in hand, Harry embarks on his weekly conference call with the senior practice leadership team.
As an account “Architect” (or admin), he can access the “Account Dashboard”:
The visual-MI summary pane on this view, left to right, shows the number of flagged grids/projects, a status summary count (red/amber/green/complete) and a historical look-back at the account/portfolio status over the preceding 12-weeks.
The flagged roundel and the grid status summary graphic can be clicked to auto-filter the overview table to this subset of grids.
In the overview table, live (un-archived) grids are shown per row. For each row/grid, the table shows grid owner, grid status, grid flag (on/off), grid “Due date”, grid element count (elements containing tasks) and %complete bar (based on elements-containing-tasks):
By default, this table view does not show grids that have been attributed as “master” grids (which are typically central, continuously-updated, best-practice grids). There is the ability, however, to toggle on the inclusion of “master” grids also.
This powerful, summary view is sortable (up/down) by clicking on the data column headers and filterable via the embedded filter action buttons in each of the data columns:
From this summary view, Harry can see, for example, any flagged grids/projects specifically requiring his attention.
1.3 Configurable grid/element display Scheduled: Fri 19 Mar 2021 – DEPLOYED TO SCHEDULE – see release note
Sonya has been working on a key proposal document for a prospect new client. The proposed services are well covered by their “master” transformation methodology grid.
Sonya seeks to send the overview of this grid in her proposal deck – as a powerful reinforcement of their service expertise and knowledge. She knows that whilst competitors glibly claim such expertise, the actual demonstration of Proton’s deep toolbox will be a manifest representation of genuine service depth: that will truly differentiate them.
Sonya, initially, seeks a simplified visual of the overall grid – with the element thumbnails stripped back to a simple title form.
This release will allow users to configure and export simplified grid views – for bid proposals and presentations.
1.2 Browser notifications Scheduled: Fri 02 Apr 2021 DEPLOYED TO SCHEDULE – see release note
As a first step in enhancing overall application notifications, we will be adding common browser notification options (e.g. Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Internet Explorer/Edge) such that standard in-app notifications (new activity, task/element assignment, chat comments etc.) can all replicate at the browser level (all configurable within user settings).
1.5 Ability to drag/drop files on upload Scheduled: Fri 16 Apr 2021 DEPLOYED TO SCHEDULE – see release note
Following a recent client engagement project, Sonya is updating a “master” service grid with some recent best-practice artefacts – that she wishes to upload.
Previously, Sonya would do this via her file explorer view.
With release 1.5, Sonya can simply drag and drop a file into the relevant content area for automatic upload.
2.3 Folder cloning Scheduled: Fri 30 April 2021 DEPLOYED TO SCHEDULE – see release note
Sonya has recently won a new engagement – based on the company’s detailed digital transformation toolbox.
The “master” digital toolbox includes a primary grid (set up as a conventional methodological process) and a set of subsidiary grids (actually kanban type boards used to facilitate key design-deliverable steps). Elements in the primary grid are used to link to these secondary grids.
To clone this related-family of grids, Sonya currently has to clone each grid separately and then ensure the links in the primary child grid are updated to link to the new, cloned children grids.
Now, with 2.3, Sonya can clone the entire folder in which all these related grids are located.
This folder cloning action, bulk clones all of the grids in the folder and, additionally, for all intra-grid links (i.e. links between grids in this folder), the links in the new, cloned instances are re-wired to preserve the same relativistic connections as in the “master” folder.
So, some busy times ahead for the development team over 2021 quarter 01!
We will continue to add/update this blog as we go – munching our way through “MG21”.
Hopefully this helps give you an understanding of how you can expect to see Method Grid continue to improve over coming weeks and months.
If this direction of travel excites you (the unique integration of knowledge and project management!) then you can sign up here to join us on the exciting journey!
About the Author
Dom Moorhouse is a co-founder of Method Grid (a platform on which to design, build and share your methodologies and procedures). In his spare time, he CrossFits to stave off middle-age and paraglides temperamentally. All whilst dreaming of becoming a philosophical flâneur.