Snap decisions

Monica Enand, CEO and Founder of Zapproved was able to get up at dawn on Saturday, 2008 to show me her software. It was 8am on the Pacific Coast, and she didn’t sound like she was in pajamas at her computer. She was likely up the weekend before launch, so she was probably figuring out any last-minute problems before pressing the button to send your project into the world.
Zapproved, she explained, is the “first cloud-based, free application that manages decision making and approval, compliance, and compliance.” Basex research has shown that we will be receiving 228 emails per day by 2010, and that 30% of these messages are corporate spam. This information is overwhelming for your project sponsor. Before she can get to the section that asks six people for their opinions and facilitates a decision, she will need to sort through it all.
Zapproved does not allow chatter. You create a proposal that people accept or reject. To accept the proposal, they can click ‘Accept’, ‘Deny’, or ‘Comment’. This forces people not to sit on the fence. Zapproved has grown by word-of-mouth since August’s beta release. It now has 1500 members. This was before I signed up for the hype, and before the final version was available yesterday.

Is it going mainstream? Cloud computing, which refers to the use of web-hosted apps to manage your day-to-day life, is not yet a fully corporate concept. LinkedIn and Flickr are examples of cloud apps. These cloud apps are software that is available online and doesn’t reside on your computer. This software is widely used, but not widely accessible in large offices.
Enand claims that cloud computing was not a problem two-years ago. “As the economy slows, people will be more interested in hosting apps that can easily be used immediately without a large IT spending.”
It’s true. Zapproved offers a free version. However, it won’t save your archived decision logs for more than 60 days. You will need to upgrade if you suspect someone will query the Zapproved decision logs you have created months ago.
Zapproved and similar tools are a step in the right direction for project managers. Do you need to sign a document? Zapprove it. Scope change is on the rise? Zapprove it. Enand doesn’t use the verb ‘zapprove’ as a verb. That’s all I know.
Enand and her team are currently working on additional plans. Outlook integration – A toolbar-style Zapproved Outlook plugin, an iPhone application, electronic signatures and verification. There is an entire industry that revolves around making decision. Zapproved is a great tool but it doesn’t replace the need to build consensus. People will still need to be able to interact with your ideas and help you understand why this decision is important.
It will be most useful in the ‘but, I heard you were okay with it’ stage. It is easy to get your stakeholders clicking a button and voila! In a matter of seconds, a centrally-mediated decision log is created. You decide if they’re making the right decisions. Software cannot help.
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