As you may or may not be aware, the last couple of months have been all about the Braindu. In some ways, a bit of quiet time over Christmas was welcome so we could really concentrate on creating, completely from scratch, a brand new product that built on the work I was doing at MySpareBrain and taking it to a whole new level.

Many of the core concepts of Braindu are driven by the same vision I had for MySpareBrain and obviously, from a standing start, the basic product features - the ability to add information as objects on a flexible workspace, within which you can store notes static content and optionally extend the information to 3rd party services, but that's where the similarities - such as those similarities with other such services, like Pearltrees, Mural.ly, and the tens of mindmapping services are put to bed.

Braindu is so much more. 

I'm very excited about many of the features I've shoe-horned into the first release, stuff I've wanted for ages in my own app and own workflow and managed to convince the team that it's for the greater good.

First up, the extended 3rd party add ons include Dropbox, Google Drive and now Odesk. Add my choice of Project Management system and Code Repository and my agency workflow can all take place within Braindu - awesome! I'll be able to track all my core apps for each project in one chart, along with the supplementary info, documents, notes, files that are stored everywhere else in no end of different apps.

Here's what my project specific collection of apps used to look like, regardless of project size or specification.

  • Dropbox folder, with Templated, Nested sub-folder structure for files, assets, copies of docs etc.
  • Lighthouse Project
  • Odesk Assignments - team members reference projects by project number and PM system task number in their time tracking. Additional team members recruited and added according to special project needs.
  • Beanstalkapp (for private projects) GIT/SVN Repository
  • Google Drive Folder & Documents - Project Budgets, Team Time-sheet Reconciliation, Receipts, Project Specifications / Briefing Documents
  • Smartsheet / Gantter - Project timeline / GANTT Chart

Then there's the casual apps

  • Campfire - Developer Team Room
  • Skype - Client / Team 1 on 1 Comms
  • Wunderlist - To Do's / Task Reminders
  • Evernote - Notes

Not to mention all the project specific research, tutorials, articles and other resources.

In some pretty unscientific testing, I reckon that I must touch at least 75 different root applications and resources per project regardless of size. And for complex projects, such as building Braindu or the API / iOS app that I'm building right now, it's more like 200 - 300 apps and resources at least.

Now that takes quite some managing. Not only that, it takes quite some time to actually setup, most of these apps require some sort of administration before you can actually use them, which involves (hopefully) remembering your login, setting up a new project instance of whatever the app purpose is serving, adding some information and then adding more information as the project progresses. You only have to do that on a few apps and there's a morning gone. Sure some of this is integral to a solid project management process, but there's considerable management wastage and inefficiency aswell.

This is compounded when we approach projects from a team perspective. We rarely work entirely alone, whether we are part of a larger agency-side team of project managers, designers, developers and/or working with our clients to provide the best service we can - we are part of a group dynamic. But our tools, even the most collaborative one's like Dropbox, Google Drive and project management systems like Basecamp or Lighthouse, are not designed to enable a fully collaborative workflow - they focus on very specific use-cases. 

As such, from a team perspective, there are huge inefficiencies within the project process when it comes to the collecting, organising and managing of information. A high percentage of duplication, information that never leaves the individual's own information repository and therefore is a lost opportunity for the project team and the inability to find or retrieve historically stored information that may be useful or pertinent in the moment.

My ambition is to reduce the amount of time it takes to setup for a new project to a third of the time. To reduce the amount of unshared information in a project team by 50%. To reduce the number of tabs you need to have open in the browser on a day to day basis just to track your live apps by a third.

So far the signs are good. Actually they're better than good but they're not quite great and that's the focus right now.

Consider that nearly $1 Trillion of cost annually is attributed to the US economy due to information overwhelm and that at a very localised level, as individuals, we spend up to 50% of our working day just managing information, you can see just how significant a problem this is and how attractive the solution could be. 

I hope Braindu will be able to help you, like it's already helping me, my teams and my clients.