We noted with interest that the folks at 37signals seemed to be running into the same problem as us internally – the question of “what’s Paul working on at the moment?”, or “what’s keeping Matt busy today?”. We, too, have a distributed team, working at different locations in the UK and over in New Zealand.
They addressed it with an internal application they dubbed In/Out, and we’ve just implemented our own variation for Litmus.
We update it throughout our working days with the things we’re doing at that time. It helps us to stay familiar with what each other is working on, which can be difficult when the team is so dispersed.
From a technical point of view, it was written by David in Ruby, using the MERB framework. It uses Twitter in the background for people’s statuses (via direct messages). We also have a small OS X application which lets us update it quickly. If you’re interested in using it yourself, David’s going to be making it available as an open source app in the near future. Keep an eye on his blog for more announcements on that front.