News Column

Patent Application Titled "Gamified Project Management System and Method" Published Online

July 3, 2014



By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Computer Weekly News -- According to news reporting originating from Washington, D.C., by VerticalNews journalists, a patent application by the inventors Rao, Mahesh C. (Saratoga, CA); Hoffman, Andrew Jay (San Anselmo, CA); Hunter, Marcello Rufus (Potomac Falls, VA); Shough, David E. (El Dorado, CA), filed on November 19, 2013, was made available online on June 19, 2014.

The assignee for this patent application is Quest 2 Excel, Inc.

Reporters obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "The present invention is generally related to business processes that include project management, learning management, content management, and human resources.

"Project management is the discipline of planning, organizing, securing, managing, leading, and controlling resources to achieve specific goals. A project is a temporary endeavor with a defined beginning and end (usually time-constrained, and often constrained by funding or deliverables), undertaken to meet unique goals and objectives, typically to bring about beneficial change or added value.

"The primary challenge of project management is to achieve all of the project's goals and objectives while honoring the preconceived constraints. The primary constraints are scope, time, and budget. Other project management considerations, however, which ideally would also be considered, but which are typically not considered, includes transparency/visibility, quality, and creativity. Thus, in the example of FIG. 1, conventional project management software typically divides a project into a fixed set of tasks and assigns tasks to individual team members (e.g. employees), also known as task owners, to be completed according to a schedule.

"Due to the complexities of project management, an extensive amount of prior art has been devoted to various methods of computerizing the process. Generally, project management is computerized through various types of project management software. Modern project management software, although it can be configured to run on just one computer, is generally configured to run on networked computers, often with the aid of one or more servers and various client devices. Examples of widely used prior art computerized project management systems include Microsoft project, and Microsoft Office Project server, Oracle Primavera EPPM, SAP Business ByDesign, HP Project & Portfolio Software, and the like.

"Some of the functions performed by prior art project computerized management systems include scheduling, issue tracking, project portfolio management, resource management, document management, and reporting and analysis. Project management systems may also output project data in various formats, such as PERT and Gantt charts, and the like.

"Conventional computerized project management approaches have many drawbacks. In particular, they often create work environments in which individuals narrowly focus on the task assigned to them based on the schedule and the budget. The work environment is often not mentally and emotionally stimulating for the task owners. Additionally, as previously discussed, conventional project management approaches do not emphasize transparency, quality and creativity.

"A further drawback of conventional computerized project management systems is that they are not integrated with learning management. In many modern work environments, employees must also be trained and educated to learn various skills and background knowledge. Conventional approaches to learning management, such as giving employees lectures or intensive one-day trainings, often results in poor knowledge retention."

In addition to obtaining background information on this patent application, VerticalNews editors also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent application: "The invention is based, in part, on the insight that humans have an innate desire to playfully compete with one another, as well as an innate desire to see that their skills are advancing over time. This is one of the reasons why computerized games, in particular online multiplayer computer games, are so popular. Players can compete with other players, receive continual and prompt feedback as to their score in the game relative to other players, and can also receive feedback that their skills in playing the game are continually advancing during the course of the game.

"The invention is also based, in part, on the insight that project management and organizational productivity can be improved if these innate human desires for playful competition and continual skill advancement can be harnessed and integrated into the framework of computerized project management systems, thus providing a gamified (computerized) project management system.

"The invention is also based, in part, on the concept that to improve transparency, evidence of completed work product (relevant to the various project tasks) should be entered into the system. The invention further provides a mechanism to allow this evidence of completed work to be reviewed versus one or more previously established task standards. Additionally, the invention can provide a mechanism to allow the resulting work product review to be at least a substantial part of a team member/players score. At the same time, to prevent playful competition from degenerating into harmful competition, the invention can also provide a mechanism to award team member/players additional score credit for helping other team member/players to complete their assigned tasks.

"The invention is also based, in part, on the further insight that to provide the sense of continual skill advancement, it is often also useful to configure the gamified project management system to provide at least some learning content materials. To encourage team member/players to improve their skills, their progress in mastering these learning content materials can also be scored and evaluated, and incorporated along with work product and helping others (teamwork) into that team member/player's overall score.

"The invention is also based, in part, on the insight that to prevent playful competition from degenerating into harmful competition, some checks and balances should be placed into the system. For example reviewer feedback can be monitored and normalized to prevent favoritism, and various other automatic algorithms (rubrics) can be used to ensure that the 'project management game' is considered reasonably fair by the various team members.

"The invention is also based, in part, on the insight that to facilitate uptake of such a gamified project management system, it is further useful to provide methods and systems to transform between standard and gamified project management files. Additionally, since gamified project management files may be more demanding than standard project management files to produce, it is also useful to provide methods and systems by which various standardized (i.e. prefabricated) gamified project management system files can be provided and then used as the building block for customized gamified project management system files.

"Thus in one embodiment, the invention may be a gamified computerized project management system and method that harnesses the innate human desire for playful competition and continual skill advancement to improve organizational productivity. The system may allow team members to bidding on at least some project tasks (and even with different project options as well). The system automatically keeps track of both the points from individual team members, as well as the team's points, and points allocated to various project tasks and activities, such as learning, communicating with colleagues, completing paperwork, and the like.

"Individual team members accumulate points according to various criteria including how well their work product meets previously established criteria. The system also allows individual team members to acquire additional points from mastering various task related learning material. Individual team members may also be rewarded points according to other factors, such as providing assistance to other team members, evaluating work product, and the like.

"Competition is fostered by allowing team members to see where their individual point score ranks versus other team member (players), while teamwork and member skill growth is also encouraged. The system's gamified project management files containing comprehensive project records may be saved, converted to standard project management files, or constructed by translation process that gamifies standard project management files. Standard prefabricated gamified project files may also be used.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

"FIG. 1 illustrates project management in accordance with the prior art.

"FIG. 2 shows an overview of a networked client-server embodiment of the invention's gamified project management system, showing how the invention's various gamified project management data fields can act to extend the data structures and functionality of prior art computerized project management systems, as well as to provide game like features such as providing team member scores, and providing an environment where a team member's skills can increase during a project.

"FIG. 3 shows an overview showing a computerized device user interface displaying where project team members can view various project tasks. In this embodiment, team members (players) can choose options, find out information pertaining to task standards, accept tasks or bid on tasks, and find relevant learning content. Team members may also use this interface to communicate with other team members.

"FIG. 4 shows more detail of the project or 'Quest' portion of the user interface, previously shown in FIG. 3. Team members can use this interface to accept or bid on one or more tasks, as well as to track their progress according to various task milestones.

"FIG. 5 shows one embodiment where by selecting the 'Success measures' button shown on FIG. 3, a team member can obtain more information pertaining to the common set of standards used to communicate the desired state of the task, and optionally desired evidence of completed work product, upon task completion.

"FIG. 6 shows one embodiment where by selecting the 'Tool & Tips' icon shown on FIG. 3, a team member can access learning content appropriate to that team member's tasks. The system can also be configured to test the team member's proficiency at learning the provided learning content, and use this information to determine when more sophisticated learning content should be provided.

"FIG. 7 shows a detail of the user interface where a team member's performance on a given task (here evidence of completed work in the form of a deliverable work file has been uploaded) can be reviewed by one or more reviewers (who can be other team members, managers, etc.). In this example, the evidence of completed work from team member (player) Pat McMahon is being reviewed by another team member (player) Andy Hoffman, and Andy is entering his input on various criteria by selecting various sliders.

"FIG. 8 shows a detail of the team member user interface where team members (players) can be notified about recent activities in that team member's particular projects (Quests), as well as alerting the team members to new tasks, review assignments, or project deadlines.

"FIG. 9 shows a detail of the 'leader board' section of the team member user interface, showing how the system can provide the various team members information regarding both how many points that team member has accumulated (from task work product points and other types of points), as well as information regarding the number of points accumulated by other team members, thus showing the relative ranking of the various team members. Here team member Dave Shough is presently in the lead.

"FIG. 10 shows how various team members (players) and managers can, using the user interface, sort through various tasks thus allowing teach task to be individually viewed in more detail. Here a team member has selected the 'Welcome onboard' task to look at in further detail.

"FIG. 11 shows how; in some embodiments team members (players) may use their accumulated points to choose various rewards from a catalog.

"FIG. 12 shows how the entire work product added to the system is saved in memory (e.g. see the FIG. 2 task files data field (223). This data can be fully searchable by quest/project, mission/milestone, task, team member score and other aspects. This information is useful, because it allows organizations to reconstruct successful processes, and avoid failed ones."

For more information, see this patent application: Rao, Mahesh C.; Hoffman, Andrew Jay; Hunter, Marcello Rufus; Shough, David E. Gamified Project Management System and Method. Filed November 19, 2013 and posted June 19, 2014. Patent URL: http://appft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.html&r=1214&p=25&f=G&l=50&d=PG01&S1=20140612.PD.&OS=PD/20140612&RS=PD/20140612

Keywords for this news article include: Software, Quest 2 Excel Inc..

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Source: Computer Weekly News


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