About James Sposto

James Sposto is Co-Founder and CEO of Xtrant and Co-Founder and President of Sposto Interactive.

New Features • People Status, Invite Reminders and More.

Xtrant is about shared knowledge and open communication, and it’s also about accountability and trust.  For what we call “productive sharing™” to be truly productive all of these attributes come into play.  To that end we have added a few new features to the “people” section of your Xtrant projects:  Person Status,  Pending/Send Reminder, and Invite Permissions.

pendingsendect

  1. Person Status: When you click on a persons name within a project, in addition to being able to see their contact information, you can now see the last time they’ve visited the project.
  2. Pending / Send Reminder:  When you add a user to a project – their name will have the word (pending) after it until they’ve visited the project.  When you click on their name to view their info and status you will also have the ability to click “send reminder” to re-invite them to the project.
  3. Invite Permissions: When you are adding a person to a project (or when you are in edit mode on that person) you can now let them invite others to the project.  (This is especially helpful if they have their own team members they’d like to share the project with.)

More new features to come.  Xtrant is getting more powerful by the minute – make sure to invite your friends, and let them invite their friends, and so on…and so on…and so on.

Oh – did you see the Time Tracking demo?  (Time tracking is available to PRO users only.)

Start Using Xtrant Now

Empowering the Squiggles

Xtrant, it's for a squiggle person, or a straight line person.There are two kinds of folks in this world, the straight lines and the squiggles.

Straight lines are those organized, by the book, solid citizens who are easily detectable by their uncluttered desks and penchant for lists.  And folders in filing cabinets, plus folders on their desktop and carefully cataloged and categorized email clients.  All those to-do type programs and methods are just MADE for them.  But they don’t even need those tools…they’d be organized straight-lines if all they had was a chisel and a stone tablet.

Lists are big with straight line people – and I totally respect that – and there are lots of tools out there that help those folks keep their lists.  But those tools aren’t for me, cause I’m the other kind.

I’m a “squiggle.”

Squiggles are the sideways thinkers, the quick starts, the ADD addled masses who are usually being forced to walk that straight and narrow at work (and forcing themselves to fake it.)  Growing up they felt guilty for not being as organized as those few alien-robot kids who had it all together.   So they read a book about productivity, and give those tools a try, find them useful (for about a week) and then drop them as they regress into their old scattered or makeshift ways. Or else they rebel when “management” forces them to learn a new way of working “for their own good.”

They shouldn’t feel guilty, they are just being what they are – human. Humans in need of a flexible tool that allows the straight lines and the squiggly people to communicate and be productive together.

Think of Xtrant as a BabelFish for squiggles and straight lines. But it’s not only a communication tool, it helps all kinds of folks organize their thoughts and tap into their inspiration.

I come up with a lot of ideas all at once, and I usually forget everything but the LAST idea I came up with. And all of those other ideas in that instant brainstorm can get lost, because my mind is going that fast. Now when I have a burst of inspiration I pull up Xtrant, and write those ideas down in the context of the project I’m thinking of.  It’s about keeping all of your information contextually in one place. It’s useful, and powerful. And it’s powerful because it’s intuitive – natural.

Humans are a distractible bunch – our brains all want to get fed new information, constantly – that’s why these asynchronous, distraction-sharing thought-burst machines like Facebook and Twitter are so popular.

Xtrant incorporates the way people are used to interacting online, for both Straight Lines and Squiggles – but instead of a perpetual party in the cloud, Xtrant is a perpetual meeting in the cloud.

Instead of “social sharing,” we use the same protocols to create an environment of productive sharing – so you can use Xtrant to organize multiple stakeholders around any initiative; like buying a house, or planning a party, or writing a contract, or developing an ad campaign, or sharing and comparing scientific data models over time (we actually have people doing that on Xtrant right now, and it’s already being used by students for study groups, development shops, PR and social media consultants, architects, production companies, lawyers, even a church choir, a writing group and a golf course.)

We aren’t project management and we aren’t an internal social media platform or even just a file sharing system. We’ve designed Xtrant to hit the sweet spot between project management, client communication, social engagement and collaboration – all in a clean interface that’s easy to understand and adopt, whether you’re a squiggle or a straight line.

 

Of Documents and Village People

Only a few days until the first annual Everywhereelse.co The Start-up Conference opens in Memphis. This is the largest start-up conference in the nation and we at Xtrant are ecstatic to be involved. In addition to being named “Official Project Platform” for EverywherElse.co, Xtrant will represent with a booth in the Start-Up Village.  If you’re attending the conference, stop by and see us (and our talented and easy-on-the-eyes spokespeople) and give Xtrant a whirl, even chat with a founder or two.

Sponsoring the Everywhereelse.co start-up conference is one of the many ways we invest in good times.

Being Launch Sponsor at Everywhereelse.co is just one of the many ways we invest in good times.

Though Xtrant is now in “Soft Launch” mode, we’ll be officially launching at the conference on Monday, February 11th. In preparation for this we’ve been hard at work implementing awesome new features. We’ve just launched Xtrant Documents or as we like to say “xDocs” feature – which allows you to create and edit documents within an Xtrant project, making your life a whole lot easier.

Living Doc Sample

You can also make this a “Living Doc” that any contributor on your project can edit.

See y’all there.

Google Wave Withdrawal? Cure it with Xtrant.

When Google Wave was announced back in 2009, I will admit, we were kind of worried. Here we were translating our founding application (The Sposto Interactive Extranet – launched back in 2004) into what is now Xtrant, our goal to give the world the power of productive sharing that helped make our small firm compete on a large stage.

Then suddenly the all powerful Google announced Google Wave – and declared a similar mission – including that of being an “email killer.”  Dammit, that’s what we wanted to be – and actually are.  (In fact, one of our most active customers REQUIRES all of their clients to communicate to them only via Xtrant.  No emails allowed.  They have started over 200 projects in our system since our soft launch in November – and they aren’t the only ones killing their email with Xtrant.)

Back to Google Wave – we honestly didn’t shed many tears at it’s demise – though we hoped WE would be the ones to get it right – strike the right balance between project management, client communication, social engagement and collaboration.

From what we’re hearing from our customers, we have struck that balance – and one comment we’re repeatedly getting is “Wow, Xtrant is like Google Wave, only it’s easy to use and understand.”

Screen Shot 2013-01-24 at 8.03.25 PM

Clear and easy to follow.

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A little confusing.

How is it similar?  Think of each Xtrant project as the equivalent of a WAVE…add the people you are working with, and keep all of your interactions and communications and  assets you are sharing, etc, in one place.  As that project grows – everything shared and discussed turns into a running log of your progress – a reference point for that topic.  The power of context keeps everyone, literally, on the same page.

So don’t despair – come and surf the Xtrant wave!

Using the Simple Power of Classified Content

One of the things we strive to do with Xtrant is eliminate the therbligs The fewer steps it takes to complete a task, the fewer movements–the fewer times you have to think within any process–the more efficient and natural the experience is, and the more useful and powerful the tool. Combining power with simplicity is a touchstone we judge all of our decisions against – and “classified content” is an excellent example of this philosophy in action.

Within a single project you might have team members with different levels of responsibility.  You may be collaborating between vendors, employees, clients and other stakeholders; some of whom need access to sensitive material that others within the project aren’t privileged to see. Our simple solution is to allow you to specify who can see classified content on a project by project basis, and mark P&R (Presentation & Review) Assets as classified when you post them.

For example, you might want to make your internal team classified and post iterations and process documents for discussion as classified content, while posting client-ready deliverables as non-classified that everyone (including the client) can see and discuss. Or you may make your project leads, sales people and customer leads involved with negotiations able to “view classified content,” so they can share contracts and price lists, without exposing sensitive information to vendors, contractors or non-management personnel .

The following images show how the process works.

First I’ll add Mike to the project, marking him able to “view classified content.”
classified1

Now I’ll add two assets, a photo that anyone can see, and a contract that has sensitive information in it. I mark the contract “classified.”
classified2

Since Mike can “view classified content” he can see both files.
classified3

When I add Amy to the project, I DON’T mark her able to “view classified content.”
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Amy can see the “unclassified” photo in this P&R group, but not the “classified” contract.
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In actuality, Amy is always allowed to see classified content, because she’s our “Director of Business Development.”  While you’re at it, do her a solid and sign up for Xtrant now - it’s getting more powerful every day.

Steal Time Back From Social Media with “Productive Sharing”

researchHow much do time do you spend on social media?  How many hours a week does Facebook take from you?  How often do you pause to tweet, to post a photo, even to send a group text?

Yes, you enjoy it.

Yes, there is networking to be done.

Yes, Twitter is part of the fabric of your life…we all get it.

But as those hours get sucked away there are things that need to get done, things you are putting off: It could be that novel you are writing, right? Or that report that’s due on Friday. Or this blog post – the one you are reading now – the one that I put off a few times, and you’ve found thanks to social media (don’t feel guilty, this counts as research.)  Social media – or “Social Sharing” is addictive because it’s so useful – so easy to adopt.  But like any opiate, it steals from our personal productivity, and in the aggregate it steals from humanity’s productivity as well – deep down you know the millions of hours spent on FarmVille could be used to cure the disease of your choice.

Okay, you can argue that most of the folks who sit and while away the hours on social media wouldn’t be doing much anyway, and it’s better to keep some of them occupied instead of stirring up trouble – but that’s another essay. 

Let’s be idealists here – and cite an artificial statistic (I know, damn lies and all.) “When Twitter goes down, worker productivity skyrockets 50%.”

You’ve likely seen this man’s claims that he hired a girl to slap him every time he checked Facebook and quadrupled his productivity. (I think he may have mommy issues, but it’s fun to watch him get slapped.)

That’s cute and all, and makes the point, but his methods are not practical for most of us.  But there’s no need to completely abandon social media – this efficient way to share and communicate.  Let’s use social sharing to be more productive.

Let’s start practicing “Productive Sharing.”

At Xtrant we’re harnessing social media protocols in a positive way – creating an environment that makes productivity and efficiency addictive.  The casual immediacy of social media is combined with the power of contextual communication and business-friendly security to help get things done.  We’ve got a billion people on the planet used to working this way – so let’s use those skills to get more productive.

So, go ahead and check your Facebook at work…right after you’ve checked your Xtrant.

Using Running Notes

Running notes appear on the right side of your project page and serve as a contextual running record of comments or conversations pertaining to the work at hand.  Any project participant or contributor can add or comment on running notes.

runningnotes

All running notes become part of that project’s history and can be referred to without searching through old emails or other records.

Running notes are an efficient way to:

  • Start a Conversation, with the comments below it continuing the discussion.
  • Start a brainstorm list, with each comment serving as a new idea or list item on that topic.
  • Notify your team of important appointments and changes.

 

Presentation & Review

Presentation & Review items (or P&R for short) are posts and uploads that are important to your project.  These can be anything from digital files to Website URLs/links to editable text documents and code snippets.

p&r

Only those you designate project contributor may post in “P&R,” but both contributors and participants can comment on those posts.

In Presentation & Review you can…

  • Drag and Drop files to upload directly from your desktop.
  • Create a document in Xtrant. XtrantDocs act like word processor documents, and can be formatted, edited and printed directly within the app.
  • Post code snippets with line numbering and color coding for development teams.
  • Upload almost any file type from PDF to DOC to CAD files and popular image formats (plus quite a few obscure file types.)

TIP: Some users make the mistake of putting a group of images into a document and then posting the document to P&R.  Presentation & Review works best if you upload the items you wish to discuss directly.  Just post, label and describe them in the Xtrant interface.  Each item can then be discussed and viewed individually, without the need for downloading files to view them.

Simple Technology for a Busy Time

Like most start-ups in early launch phase, Xtrant is busy.  And also, like most start-ups, our communication strategy includes a blog.  Of course, we used WordPress to create our blog.  It was easy to implement in a short time, and it is easy to manage, so we can spend more time managing and improving Xtrant, rolling out new features, dealing with upcoming events, and growing marketing and communication channels.  (Including writing this, our first blog post.)  We didn’t even spend too much time customizing the template: No need, it’s doing its job, as you are here reading this.

Good, solid, simple tools that are easy to adopt and implement for their purpose win, especially when you want to spend time actually getting things done.

Pitch Deck Page

Using Xtrant to promote Xtrant and communicate with others about Xtrant.

As a company Xtrant takes advantage of the tools at our disposal.  We use UserVoice for our support site/help desk, we are experimenting with MailChimp to send out newsletters and information to our subscriber base.  And we use our very own Xtrant to communicate to our vendors, keep track of our internal projects, even to communicate to potential investors.  We call it “eating our own tail” (like the mythical Ouroboros.) And by using it every day we notice what works, and what can be improved.  We are in the shoes of our customers.

Stay away from solutions that require too many thought processes.  The most powerful tool is always the one you will use.

What powerful and simple tools do you use?