Saturday, November 17, 2007

MyOffice: Facebook app for light project management

For a while, I've been agitating for a project management application that does what Basecamp does, but in a more networked fashion. Basecamp is great, but if person A and person B both have Basecamp accounts, and they decide to work on the same project, they have to answer the question: "Your Basecamp or mine?" One of them will wind up with two accounts, a "home" account and a "guest" account, and there's no way to achieve total information awareness on all projects.

I was convinced that Google would climb this hill eventually. It seemed like a natural: Google was pushing into the B2B collaborative market with GDocs, GCal, and GMail, and if they added a PM application, they could leverage that momentum easily. You could even get down to the task level, allowing one task to "live" in more than one project (not canonical PM, I know, but worth considering in a net work environment). And when Google bought JotSpot, the speculation was that they were going to unveil something like this. Maybe in early 2007, some speculated.

Well, here we are in November, and no sign of a Google PM system. JotSpot isn't even accepting new users. But a lot has happened in those months. Most significantly, Facebook opened its membership to everyone and it opened its API to third-party developers. And now there is a rudimentary project management system along the lines I described several months ago -- a Facebook app with the stunningly original name MyOffice.

MyOffice provides the basic features you may recognize from Basecamp and similar systems such as activeCollab: projects with members you can designate; dated tasks (similar to milestones); calendar events; file storage and sharing; and a dashboard so you can see what's going on. Actually, two dashboards: one for system events such as new task creation and one for all dated events (calendar events and tasks). Most intriguingly, you draw members from your Facebook friends, and as they accept your membership invitations, they simply install the app in their Facebook account. Suddenly everyone's in the same space, using the same app, and you don't have to juggle multiple accounts in order to get total information awareness on your projects. Similarly, messaging uses the Facebook messaging system, so discussions that take place within projects show up under Facebook's Notifications and will buzz your email address if you have Facebook set up that way. These seem like really clever ways to leverage Facebook's infrastructure.

The app is a long way from perfect. Annoyingly, tasks are listed under the Tasks tab in reverse order of their creation, not by the due date, and they don't even show a due date in this list. You can see them by due date under the Events tab, but you can't check them off there. So I imagine a lot of toggling between these two windows as people try to figure out which task to check off. Similarly, the dashboard split between events (under the Events tab) and changes (under the Overview tab) is not very useful, especially for those of us who are used to Basecamp or activeCollab. Finally, I don't have a good read on the security built into this app.

Nevertheless, for small projects, MyOffice should fit the bill. I'd be afraid to use it for a larger project, a mission-critical project, or one that demanded security, at least until the app matures a bit.


tuyen said...

Hi Clay,

If you're looking for a project management and collaboration app like Basecamp, but without the problem of having multiple accounts when working on several projects, you should check out TeamWork Live. With TeamWork Live, you only ever have one account no matter how many different companies you collaborate with: each user will always be able to view all their tasks, milestones, etc. across all their projects. It's functionality is very similar to what your description of what MyOffice does but it's a much more mature and full-featured product. I think it will really fit what you are looking for. Best of all, one of the co-founders is a UT-Austin alum!

Tuyen, Founder
TeamWork Live

Clay Spinuzzi said...

Thanks for the tip! I'm impressed with TWL.

Brandon said...

Thanks for the write up! Will add some sorting functionality for tasks and events into our roadmap. Try to get it in this coming week. If you have more suggestions, feel free to send me an email or a Facebook message.

Kenley William said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.