Project management is one area where the cloud excels, and any new entrant into the market is faced with formidable competition. Basecamp, Podio, Huddle, Planbox, Zoho Projects and GoLIMS all offer project management SaaS. Each has a unique selling point, whether it’s Agile (Planbox) or research project management (GoLIMS).
There’s a great deal of choice for any business looking to move its project management tools into the cloud, which can only be good for the health of the SaaS market. Competition requires innovation, and products are continually having to evolve and improve to keep up with the pack.
A Brief History of Teamwork Project Management
Initially launched in 2007, the Teamwork PM SaaS was originally based on Teamwork CRM by DigitalCrew, but the project management product now accounts for 100% of their business. In the five years since its inception, Teamwork PM has developed at speed and is now arguably one of the most well-known project management tools on the market.
Whereas many cloud tools are based on logins or seats, Teamwork PM is priced according to active projects and storage space. Plans range from a low-cost personal plan (allowing for 5 projects and 5 GB storage space), scaling up to the Enterprise plan (unlimited projects and 80 GB storage space). There is also a free plan available, allowing for 2 projects and 10 MB storage space. This can be easily upgraded. Note that archived projects don’t count towards your total project allowance.
My initial impression of Teamwork PM was that it’s very neat and tidy. The UI is uncluttered and easy to navigate. Much of the ‘look and feel’ is customisable, allowing you to brand the application with your own logo and colour scheme. It’s also possible to use a CNAME record to run Teamwork PM under a subdomain of your own domain, and embed a login form right into your website. That effectively removes most of the software’s own branding, which is a valuable feature.
The top left of the screen gives you quick access to the Dashboard, the Everything page, Projects, a Calendar, Statuses and People. The top right of the screen provides some quick links to projects, access to the application settings and the user’s own account settings. There is also a useful search field in the top right of the screen.
Upon logging in, the user is greeted with the Dashboard screen. This displays a list of recent activities that have taken place on any projects that user can access, in chronological order. Users can also view lists of upcoming tasks and milestones due in the next 30 days. The dashboard is minimal: no charts, graphs or drill-downs. Simplicity is key.
The Everything page is a series of lists displaying all of the user’s planned and completed work, along with messages and recorded time.
The Projects page is where the application starts to get into detail. This is essentially the ‘hub’ of the application; it drives everything else. An employee or participant could potentially rely on the Dashboard to organise their daily work, but a project manager would use the Project page to organise and assign that work.
Working With Projects
Open up a Project and you are greeted with an overview screen. This includes a simple Calendar view of upcoming Milestones and recent activity. Tasks and Milestones can be created and assigned to people from this screen, and task lists can also be split to make organisation easy.
Messages can be directed to co-workers, and files relating to the project can be uploaded here. Replies to messages are emailed and stored within the application.
Other features include a time logging facility, editable collaborative notebooks, a Risk Register, a customisable list of links, Billing tools and so on. Access to the project can be managed through the people tab, and permissions can be controlled with easy checkboxes. Most features can be switched on and off, allowing you to customise the tabs available on each individual project.
The Calendar page provides a view of all milestones, tasks and other events on all Projects. It can be filtered to show items for the individual user or the organisation as a whole.
Individuals can update their status at any time to indicate what they are working on. These updates can be viewed on the Status page. Users can be prompted to update their status.
The People page is used to manage client companies, user accounts and so on. Users administrating the software can monitor who has been logging in and when they last accessed a Project.
A Good All-Rounder
I must confess to having used Teamwork PM pretty extensively after I switched away from Basecamp – there’s a feature to import projects directly from Basecamp which worked well when I used it. Teamwork PM is a very usable product which looks deceptively simple but has enough features to make project managers happy and keep clients in the loop. The layout is very intuitive, despite being very unlike a desktop application. It’s brisk too; for example, switching features on and off within a Project doesn’t force the page to reload.
Integrations such as Dropbox, Google Drive and Box.com are already available, which is a good sign, but I couldn’t find any integration tools for CRMs which would be nice to see. There is an invoicing feature which integrates with Xero to a point, but there’s still a bit of manual work involved in getting the two running side-by-side.
Whilst the sheer amount of customisation available in an SaaS product such as Podio goes way beyond what’s on offer with Teamwork PM, too many options can baffle the uninitiated. In this respect, Teamwork PM is ideal for beginners, or if you’re working with people who don’t want to get bogged down with learning how things work. It feels like there’s scope for the software to evolve further, but Teamwork PM is certainly a good solid product which I can recommend.
About the AuthorClaire Broadley is a technical author and SEO copywriter. She reviews cloud applications and SaaS products for Rated Cloud.
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