Often the problem in development projects, especially those that involve many people and parties, is that a lot of the information and knowledge about current discussions and decisions is merely captured in emails. Emails, however, are merely chronological and often contain many strings of thought. New thoughts are copied into new emails with new mailing lists. Parallel communication takes place with different people. In the end, the aggregation of the insights is nearly impossible and individual employees need to be assigned to collecting and documenting this information again. This is clearly inefficient.
The advantage of Google Wave is that multiple people can work on one Wave about a single topic and do not need to order their discussion in chronological order. Additionally, a clear change history can be used to track changes – and more transparent than with emails. Another point is that the information is centrally hosted for everyone to see and edit. It’s not concealed in individual mailboxes.
These advantages can also be found in JIRA, an issue tracker I am currently working with again. While Google Wave is not available yet and will be mainly focused on non-business use, the advantages described above can already now be used with tools such as JIRA.
I do not want to be unfair to the brilliant work of the Google Wave developers. It’s preview promises far more: real-time collaboration, inclusion of maps, editable in real-time, a great user interface with a people-centered approach and much more. But at the same time it will not have workflows included – it is not designed as an issue tracker.
I would hope that the JIRA developers and the community around it takes notice of the great stuff Google is doing and takes some inspiration for their own roadmap. This would ease project and knowledge management greatly.
For more info on Google Wave you should really watch this video: