There has been plenty written recently on distributed teams. A couple of weeks ago @dhh wrote a post on the 37signals blog that generated an enormous amount of discussion. It’s a topic I’ve been thinking a lot about since I joined Harvest because I happen to think we run our distributed team really well.
A huge part of Harvest’s successful distributed team is our use of Co-op, a free online collaboration tool built by the Harvest team. Co-op is a private status update stream that is seamlessly integrated with Harvest (naturally!). The original intent was to create a water cooler that was less invasive than group chat. However it has become absolutely vital to the operations of this business as well as to the culture.
The reason Co-op works is that it enables one-to-many communication in addition to one-to-one communication. As a marketer, I shouldn’t be surprised that communication should vary if speaking to many people versus one person. It just never occurred to me that successful distributed teams need tools that enable multiple types of communications. It’s quite obvious now.
I’ll admit, when I first got here I was a bit overwhelmed by Co-op – it just seemed like one more continuous stream of chatter that I needed to pay attention to. I have now come to love it. In addition to keeping me up to date on what everyone is working on it has helped me build relationships with my co-workers both in and out of New York. Personalities come through in Co-op in a way that they don’t on email. It has helped create and maintain the sense of culture in the office.
If you have a distributed team, or even if you don’t, I recommend you check it out here.
This week, Google launched the Chrome Web Store, an online marketplace, where users can search, browse and use web-based applications and extensions.
You can now install Harvest and Co-op (our team communication app which we live by everyday) for your Google Chrome browser via the new Web Store — it’s available at no additional charge for existing Harvesters. Once installed, the apps will appear when you load Chrome. This makes accessing our apps from Chrome on any machine even easier.
Additionally, we’ve started to add some HTML5 goodness starting with @reply notifications in Co-op, so you can take advantage of great desktop-like features right from your web browser.
Head over to the Chrome Web Store via your Chrome browser to install them today!
A smattering of developers (who are also Harvest customers!) have released some cool integrations in the past few months, and we thought we’d share the highlights with you.
Post GitHub Commits to Co-op
Robert May of Core Web Design has put together an integration between GitHub and Co-op, Harvest’s team communication application. This GitHub service posts GitHub commits from any project of your choosing directly to Co-op. It’s a fantastic way to keep your team up-to-date on the latest development activity.
To set up the integration, visit the source GitHub repository and go to Admin > Service Hooks. Choose Co-op and fill in the necessary information.
Continue Reading …
We are pretty active on Twitter. It’s a great way to get quick messages out as we release new features. We love to hear what you have to say about Harvest, good or bad.
It would not be particularly efficient for everyone on the team to watch the flow of tweets about Harvest. So, for those of us who have the task of watching Twitter, we like to favorite interesting tweets about Harvest, and we also like to share them with the rest of the team. This is a perfect task for automation by Cobot, your friendly Co-op robot.
We created a Ruby script that runs every 30 minutes looking for the latest favorited tweets on our Harvest Twitter account. It also looks at the Harvest stream to pull in anything we’ve said on Twitter. These tweets get inserted into our Co-op stream and provide a nice bit of motivation from our wonderful customers.
If you are curious to see the script, it can be found on GitHub. And here it is in action:
Enjoy using Cobot to enhance your Co-op workstreams, we’re excited to know if you find this feature useful!
The Harvest Team communicates with Co-op all day, every day. It is the visual heartbeat of our team, as we share failures, successes and silliness from our work days and our lives. While this heartbeat is strong, it also has an obvious arrhythmia: no system status messages.
For the past couple weeks we have been refining an API technique to programmatically add system status, and anything else, to a Co-op workstream. We are pleased with the results, and would like to introduce you to Cobot:
Cobot posts may be created via the Co-op API.
Along for the ride are a couple of new formatting features now enabled for Co-op statuses. First, statuses now accept
<br /> tags to force new lines, which is essential for posting things like deployment of multiple code commits.
Co-op also now supports code pastes. If you paste anything in your Co-op message box with two or more new lines, the code paste view will take effect:
Feel free to share what kinds of system messages you will be looking to bring into your Co-op workstreams, we’re excited to know if you find this feature useful!
FEB 25th UPDATE: We’ve made some further improvements to the Harvest systems setup and we will now be doing this server migration on Sunday, Feb 28 2am – 5am EST (what time is that for you?). We’ll keep you posted on the progress.
We have been working on a new systems platform for Harvest and Co-op recently, with the main objective being a manageable growth platform for the future. Part of this new systems setup involves moving our applications over to a new set of servers. In order to make the move, we need to perform systems maintenance to route data and traffic over to the new setup. We will be taking Harvest and Co-op offline between
2am – 5am EST on Sunday February 21st (see above update for new time) to perform this server migration.
As always, we thank you for your patience and support!
Follow @harvest on Twitter to receive updates on Harvest status, and general Harvest news in real time.
UPDATE: Maintenance is complete and service is back online.
As a hosted software service we need to upgrade our server hardware from time to time. We’ll be taking Harvest and Co-op offline between 1am – 2am EST on Saturday January 30th (what time is this for you?) to upgrade storage on our database systems. Generally this type of maintenance can be planned weeks in advance, however in this case there is hardware which needs to be upgraded proactively to ensure smooth operation of the site.
The maintenance is not expected to last the full hour and is expected to be complete before 2am EST. As always we appreciate your support and patience!
Follow @harvest on Twitter to get real time information about Harvest.
Though Harvest Headquarters are located in New York City, a few members of the team are located in different parts of the world, across the U.S. and Europe. Over the years, we have learned a thing or two about communicating efficiently over time and space. These tips are likely to be appropriate for all teams using electronic communication, but their value is magnified when drop-ins and phone calls are not an option. Continue Reading …
We will be performing some hardware upgrades on servers, which will mean a small service interruption for Co-op (as well as this blog) between 2am – 3am EST on Sunday December 13th, 2009. Find out what time that is for you.
Thanks for your patience and continued support!
Note: Upgrade complete and everything is back online.
Co-op is our simple solution for team collaboration. It’s a tool we use everyday to keep each other updated on what we’re working on right now and what we plan to work on later. It has made us more efficient as well as have more fun throughout the work day; it’s our central medium to share links and thoughts within the team. Co-op does all this while we seamlessly track time through Co-op’s Harvest integration.
CrazedCoders, a development firm which uses Harvest & Co-op, have taken the liberty to develop an amazing iPhone application using Co-op’s RESTful API. Read below for more information or download iCo-op from the iTunes Apps store (FREE)! Note: requires a Co-op account which is free to sign up via the web.
iCo-op is a native iPhone application for Co-op, a lightweight web-based project management and team collaboration tool. By providing an easy way for team members to update each other on what they are working on, iCo-op enables teams to work more efficiently and enjoyably together. With an optional integration to the Harvest time tracking and invoicing app (http://getharvest.com), professional services teams can effortlessly track time and bill clients while keeping everyone on the same page.
With iCo-op for the iPhone, staying in touch with your teammates on-the-go has never been easier. Share ideas, ask questions, or coordinate groups from wherever you are. Whether you are part of a small team in a larger company or one of many freelancers working together, iCo-op keeps you and your teammates connected so you can get more work done together.