I've been a bit quiet for a fortnight so I thought I'd better own up and tell you why. It's been a busy couple of weeks as we have been writing our plans for the launch. It's the biggest project I've ever been part of, let alone been in charge of. We have about 20 workstreams running now within the overall project, each of which has a virtual team. Each workstream leader is responsible for building out their plan, agreeing their goals, objectives and strategies with their virtual team and then driving the execution. We are heavily using Groove now to manage this process of virtual teaming and this is getting a fair amount of interest from other groups in the company who are impressed with our rate of output.
I want to compile a list of guidelines on having a happy life with Groove, so there are some things I've learnt about how to make Groove work for us which might be useful to others. Here are my rules about the best way to use Groove:
1. One manager per workspace. Well actually two for fell-under-a-bus-failover reasons. You don't want everyone as a manager but you do want a clearly defined person who keeps the file structure tidy and monitors the usage of the workspace. One person to decide to add tabs and configure settings. Everyone else in my workspace is a "participant".
2. No lurkers. In the days of IRC chat, there was this concept of a "lurker" - a person who would hang around in the chat but never say anything. You don't want people doing that in a workspace which is why I need a lot of persuasion to add anyone as a "reader". If you are not contributing, ie authoring documents, you are taking up too much space.
3. A workspace per virtual team. Don't have everyone in the same workspace. The more people you have, the more documents are in the workspace and it can get a bit out of control. In my project, each workstream owner runs a seperate workspace for their virtual team. That way if the internal workstream, for example, is working on creative posters, we don't have every high resolution image in the main project workspace. The internal team have their own virtual team and so deserve their own workspace, then when the final version is done, maybe that is appropriate to put in the overall workspace. If you don't do this then there are too many files being replicated around unnecessarily.
4. SharePoint loves extended teams. Building on rule 2, if you do feel the need to add a lot of people as readers then its probably time to publish what you are doing to a sharepoint server. This is done using the sharepoint tab in Groove. Don't add loads of readers to the workspace, instead publish key material to SharePoint where you can more tightly control access or just all all authenticated users to read. So general publishing is better done with a portal than with Groove.
5. PowerPoint libraries. I've just hit this. Everyone has written a summary slide of their plan but now I have a dozen pptx's in Groove, each with only one slide in them. A better approach would be to use a Slide library in SharePoint which would mean I could create an agregate presentation that maintains a link back to the component slides. When I open that powerpoint presentation and check for updates, if a workstream lead updates their slide then these will get updated in my aggregated deck. Of course, this aggregate deck can then be put in the workspace so everyone has it. (I'm going to see if I can sync a groove tab with a sharepoint slide library as soon as I can get the sharepoint sync working again - some bugs in it right now).
6. Use two machines. If you are in the habit of blowing away your PC - perhaps because you like to install newer builds of Vista then a top tip is "Use this account on another computer" option which duplicates your workspaces on another PC. Then when you rebuild it, you can simply do the same thing again to restore all your files from the other peer in the workspace.
I'm sure I'll come up some more as we learn - and make mistakes - but maybe that will help you. If you have more then please do post them as comments. Or disagree with mine if you like :-)