I just checked out Kubi Software’s collaborative email product. They identified some of the inherent short-comings of email driven collaboration: all your messages are received there, unsorted, and even if you were to painfully move them around into organized folders, this would only benefit you. Client-side rules aimed at automating some of that are only addressing a fraction of the issue. So you end up spending your time sifting through relevant and not so relevant messages, expending vast amounts of energy just fighting the clutter. They propose a solution that plugs into the team members’ existing email clients (Outlook 2000, 2002 and Lotus Notes), and also leverages the servers already deployed.
Users of Kubi’s plug-in get to create Kubi spaces around projects or focus areas. The spaces are by-invitation only, and structured in the sense that they expose project-related tasks, contacts, documents, email discussions. Users publish documents, messages and track project events right from within their familiar email client interface. Removing the adoption critical mass barrier is thus one of the most immediately obvious qualities that Kubi brings its users.
One of the obvious features I still see as missing (at least from the demo): there is no sign of a workflow or generic event model that would allow users to subscribe to events on a particular project deliverable (say, a design specification document) and therefore get notified of changes automatically. Kubi does expose in its spaces a most recent activity pane, where I assume changes about document get automatically exposed based on the underlying shared document server, but there are no notifications that alert you it’s time to check out those updates.
Similarly, I didn’t see any mechanism to tie a particular document to a task and automate reminders, nor to enroll a set of users in reviewing documents at particular milestone points in the life-cycle of a deliverable. Finally, it doesn’t seem that Kubi spaces support sub-spaces, so you can’t create sub-projects to which a certain subset of your tasks gets delegated.
Incidentally, Kubi Software plans to launch their product next quarter, and VentureWire reports they will start raising a $10-million round of funding later this year.