Monday, November 24, 2008

Online project management by Agriterra for more transparency

Collanos is a free tool for project management. It integrates all communication you can have within a project, so documents, discussions, notes, etc. So, instead of e-mailing to and fro or having to find documentation in several places, you can collect it all within this tool. It also allows for creating different project teams and you can assign tasks and deadlines to the team members. On the website you can take a tour and get a better idea what it is all about.

The basic features are easy and useful. If you would want additional functionality, they will charge you. During our meeting there were some questions about where the data is stored. It appears that all data will be stored on your own hard disk. So, in case Collanos would cease to exist you will not have lost all your documentation. It works as such that all documentation will be saved/copied to the hard disk of all team members and updated whenever they log on. A negative result of this is that you cannot log on to the tool from different locations and see all documents. For example you work with Collanos at the office, but you’d also like to work with it from home, you will have to create a second account for your computer at home and add that account to the group as well. As such you can have access to the team-documentation as well.

Agriterra's project management tool
Agriterra is an organisation working with and for farmers in developing countries. To register all the projects, Agriterra has developed a database that functions as our project-management tool and as such serves as our management-information tool as well: . We highly value transparency about our work, so the information is accessible for anyone interested. Through we can also offer a website to the producer organisations (farmers) we work with. These websites are a copy of agro-info and as such a simple solutions for producer organisations to be represented on the web. All the projects Agriterra is involved in are being registered on and they can be followed step-by-step and in detail from application until they are finished. All participating organisations are added in the system as well the planned budgets and logframes. Once a project reaches the execution phase the contracts are added to the database. To monitor our actual activities we created a Results tab where we register per year what the results are, what was spent, how the project scored on some key points of our programme (participation of women in the projects, outreach, etc.). All information in the database is interrelated. So, if there is a news item about a project, this can be linked. Or when the report of a mission has been completed, it will be added to the documents and linked to the mission itself.

Collaboration with other organisations
We are now in the process of increasing the quantity of information we can register in the Organisations-module to have the information about our customers in one place, but also to organisations we do not work with (yet) but are active in a country where we also work. The aim with this database is to become a resource site for and about producer organisations worldwide. So, if you would like to add your projects with producer organisations as well, you are more than welcome. Or if you are interested to see if the set-up of this database fits the needs of your organisation, you are invited to contact me Marjolein Hondebrink (



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