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Hackernoon logoThe blockchain missing link in remote project management. by@olya-green

The blockchain missing link in remote project management.

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@olya-greenOlya Green

I write about blockchain and Web 3.0

Disclaimer: the author has no vested interest in the brands mentioned here.

With COVID10 drastically changing the way we work, we’re all on the look-out for best-performing tools for remote collaboration. But before installing another productivity app or plug-in that will probably go largely unused, let’s consider one way to optimize the tools that are already in place. Leveraging blockchain’s inherent capability to build an immutable record of operational transactions can help to mitigate operational risks and promote efficiency in remote collaboration. 

In this guide, we’re exploring how blockchain-based tools can help to build trust and trace responsibility in remote teams. 

Show me the data: why remote teams lag on performance.

In corona times, it’s getting increasingly difficult for remote project managers to receive real-time credible status updates from employees working from home and freelance collaborators scattered around the globe because there is a high chance of losing some of that data due to the external tampering or the cloud downtime.

At the same time, the importance of accurate, credible data cannot be overstated when applied to remote work. Bad data equals poor project performance. While there are one too many collaboration suites and workflow automation apps, one thing they all lack is the capability to validate the source of data input/output and check with certainty that work files haven’t been tampered with.  This is very important for any work process but much more so for the remote collaboration scenario since there’s no luxury of face-to-face executive approvals or lengthy IT-audits.

To tackle this problem, we need to embrace novel methods for agile project status reporting.

Blockchain’s promise for remote workflows.

The bottom line is, blockchains are just another data source to integrate.

Gartner: Top 3 Blockchain and Data Management Myths

There is a broad array of misconceptions surrounding the blockchain’s ability to transform the enterprise information management - from being the ultimate source of security and integrity to replacing the existing EIMs completely. However, the technology does offer a number of cost-effective optimizations for remote workflows.

Trustless data validation & scaling 

While blockchain alone can’t build comprehensive data integrity, its open-source algorithms deliver trustless data validation and scaling. In a distributed ledger, each node independently hosts and updates project status data. No single party in this system can alter or change this data, and, in turn, the entire project team will reference to this single source of truth. This basic blockchain quality can be applied for tracking every record and event that happened on the project, which is especially useful when investigating discrepancies and disputes with external project stakeholders like clients or subcontractors. That brings us to our next point.

100% trusted project log

Smart contracts running on a blockchain deliver a large number of optimizations to remote project management.

Automating transactions
related to subcontractors’ terms and conditions (e.g. invoices and payments when deliverables are accepted or milestones are met) 

Recording project performance data
(e.g. project or phase authorization/closure, team members assignments, time and expense sheets approvals, activity, and tasks progress or completion records). 

Registering project status reports

The last point is particularly important since there is a high correlation between project success and effective monitoring. Project status at a given date can be modeled with public information (that all stakeholders have access to) and with confidential information (available only for the project management team). Unlike confidential project status records that are difficult to generalize, public project status records, on the other hand, are easy to generalize if we include general project information such as the current project stage, project’s health check, baseline performance (scope, schedule, cost) and the change-log.  A blockchain ledger can be used to verify public project status records and generate trustless project status reports.

FIG.1: Using blockchain to validate project status reports

dApps that aim to facilitate remote collaboration

Starting with the basic data storage functionality, let's take a look at decentralized cloud storage platforms for reliable remote file sharing. Instead of renting storage space from Google Cloud or Amazon 3S, their users rent or buy storage from one another. Data stored on these platforms cannot be censored nor tampered with, while you keep all the rights to your sensitive commercial information.

Another tool for data validation that helps to verify with 100% certainty that the contents have not been changed, tampered with, or altered in any form. It basically ‘fingerprints’ your file, without the need to upload it, inside your browser. The fingerprint that is created is then stored publicly on the Steem blockchain, through which it guarantees the integrity of the file as to how it was created at a given time by a given user. 

Another Silicon Valley-based startup lets the end-users collect and audit critical operational data such as sign-offs and rejections on the project milestones. The biggest perk of the platform is the immutable audit log that holds blockchain as the source of authority and enhances with credibility all your remote processes. Now in stealth mode, the platform features powerful integrations that help to collect and track operational data shared across disparate messengers, collaboration suites, and line-of-business apps. Keep all critical operational records in one place and share links to credible audit logs with the contract parties, regulators, and other third parties requesting the information.

Finally, a blockchain-powered chat messenger will help to ensures that all highly sensitive information is shared between remote colleagues anonymously and fully encrypted. The dApp also features anonymous sign-ins and a wallet with multi-asset support that can be used for micro-payments to freelance collaborators. 

By using blockchain-powered tools for remote workflow optimization, you can be confident in the accuracy of data shared across your remote operations and confidently track the project status updates. 

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