I spent the better part of last week in Nashville attending Deltek Insight, its annual user conference (more on Insight in a follow on post). I had a chance to catch up on a new product development project that I've followed with interest for 18 months or so, Kona. Kona is an enterprise social network (ESN) that is specifically designed to facilitate project execution. Deltek is known for its project management and services resource planning (SRP) solutions focused on government contracting and project based industries so it has proven expertise on the project side of the equation, and it has leveraged that expertise to sort out a tool for helping people (individuals and organizations) get work done.
Traditional project management tools do a great job of "managing" or providing the information necessary to oversee the work and mitigate risks, but don't really provide much help to the people actually doing the work. In addition most project management tools don't provide any method of collaborating with other project team members. Projects are inherently social and often come apart when team members can't or won't communicate and share. Using a collaboration tool that is separated from the flow of work is problematic and often underutilized, which serves to push most project communications into an already overburdened email system. This is not what email was designed for, and its too easy to lose important project details in a never ending stream of email overload. This need to collaborate around getting things done doesn't end at the corporate firewall either, we all have other things to get done ranging from personal tasks like picking up the dry cleaning to organizing a fundraiser for your son or daughter's sports team. Many of these personal activities are also projects that involve coordinating work among several people and face the same challenges.
This is where Kona comes in, it's a social project execution networking tool that works equally well for personal projects as it does in the enterprise. As with the best web 2.0 type tools, Kona is fairly simple on first examination but has very sophisticated functionality underneath. The cloud based ESN tool has four basic tabs; conversations (an activity stream layout), tasks, events and files. Here's a screen shot to show the basic layout:
Kona is currently in public beta and available in a free version that includes all the functionality and 1 GB of storage. According to Deltek there are already over 10K active users. There is a planned enterprise version that should come out in the near future. Also expect to see some partner integrations that would expand the functionality and footprint to other popular tools (it already includes Google Apps integration). Kona seems to be easy to use, feature rich and has a good, clean UI. It's currently available on the web and for iOS and Android devices.