One of the more complex software projects we have undertook at the IMA happens to be the one we talk least about publicly. Athena, is a Project Management System created by the IMA back in late 2007. At the time, there was a lack of a good open source solution and online commercial alternatives did not allow us to own the data. It also was our first chance to cut our Drupal teeth. I’m happy to look back at 18 months and see that it has been used quite successfully by most of the staff (and a lot of non-staff).
Each user has a customizable dashboard with a personalized view into their projects and activity. I might be considered an average user with 27 projects. Some users have more than 100! The project order is customizable so you have quick access to your most frequent projects.
Below is a peek inside a project. Each project can enable and disable features such as file sharing, an image gallery, tasks, etc.. You can also see recent activity on just the project you are viewing.
We wanted a way to engage users in the system and promote fast adoption. Our solution was a built in gaming module. Users earn a small amount of points for every action they perform in Athena. — This feature can be turned off with the flick of a switch for those without a sense of joy in life. — As users earn more points they unlock new features. The features include themes and helpful widgets for their dashboard (e.g. a todo list). Additionally, users are assigned a certain rank based on their points. Users must work hard to be promoted from “Newbie” to “Tom Brady” to “Intern” and so on.
Below you can see an example of when a user earns a new feature.
Additional motivation is given by a ranking dashboard widget. Users can see other users right around them and track how to they move relative to others.
In the spirit of transparency, here is a few of the statistics we monitor. Of interest is that we have more external users than IMA staff users. Any staff member can invite any e-mail address to a project. That external user gets their own dashboard and rank. In just 18 months we have accumulated over 11,000 files weighing in at 22GB of office documents. All these documents are indexed and their contents are searchable, so they are actually very easy to locate.
Moving ahead we would be interested in releasing Athena for others to use. It’s always a work in progress. We’re also keeping our eye out for better solutions that could come along.
Filed under: Technology