Monday, November 19, 2007

TeamWork Live

A comment on a recent post led me to TeamWork Live, a web-based project management system that competes with Basecamp and others. TWL has the basic sorts of things you would expect, including milestones, tasks, notes, and dashboard. But it provides a project space that can be shared across entities: if you have a TWL account, apparently you can share projects with other entities rather than asking "your Basecamp or mine?"

But it has several other interesting features:
  • A full-fledged team calendar that allows you to view milestones, tasks, and events.
  • An RTF editor that allows formatted text without learning wiki commands.
  • A variety of ways to provide alerts for project changes or comments, including RSS, email, and SMS.
  • Separation between personal and team workspaces.
  • Reports (!), including team status, open items, weekly status, and time tracking. The team status report gives you an idea of how much milestone and task process has been made, with green for completed, red for overdue, and gray for upcoming.
  • Estimate of hours to put into the project and billable rate.
  • Daily status emails, if desired.
TWL is team-focused, so rather than setting up "projects," you set up "teams." That terminology might cause some confusion, since organizations often have stable teams (e.g., marketing) that work on several overlapping projects with different timeframes and goals. But TWL appears to be thinking in terms of closed-ended projects -- at least, the focus on milestones and completion implies that understanding.

Overall, this thing looks pretty good. Like Basecamp, it's set up on a subscription model, and costs scale rapidly. The free plan appears to be more restrictive based on the pricing sheet, but I'm not positive of that -- the use model is different enough that it's hard to compare the two at a glance. If you're in the market for a PM system, it's definitely a contender.

TeamWork Live - Dashboard

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4 comments:

Ramster said...

Doesn't seem like a handy tool to me. We have several teams in our company, but one team can be involved in 3 or 4 projects. So setting teams in a project management tool would not suit us definately. So far we have been using Wrike. I think you've mentioned it in one of your older posts. It works perfectly for overlapping and multiple projects.

Clay Spinuzzi said...

Meh. I think it depends on your environment and how you use it. If you read "Team" as "project" throughout, you'll find that TWL essentially treats teams as projects. The terminology works quite well for one-off projects -- say, if you are an independent contractor who assembles a team of contractors to work on a client's project. But if you work in a stable organization that already has "teams" (e.g., Marketing, Software Development, etc.) you have to rethink your terminology and put together cross-functional "teams" that reflect your projects. Doing this across a large set of people will result in some real confusion, I think -- although maybe there's something I'm missing.

So you like Wrike? I'll have to give it a (third) look.

Tuyen said...

Thanks for the write-up Clay! We appreciate the review.

Regarding the team terminology, Clay is right on when he says that you can think of "teams" as "project teams". We feel that collaboration today is more ad hoc and often involve different people for different projects. As a result, we tried to make TeamWork Live flexible enough for the fluid teams of today while still making it easy to define formal teams (like departments). Many of our users create a team for their department to use for department-wide collaboration and smaller teams for each of their projects. It is very easy to invite existing team members to a new project team. You can even duplicate an existing team to create a new team (including all the milestones and tasks in the workspace of the duplicated team). Having said that, we do plan to separate the concept of team and project in a future release so a single team can have multiple projects.

Ramster, if you like Wrike, you should give TeamWork Live a try if your needs are greater than just task management. Like Wrike, TeamWork Live is also tightly integrated with email. You can create tasks and milestones simply by sending an email to TeamWork Live. In addition, our Gmail-like integrated messaging feature allows you to send messages to your team members about a task and all related messages are automatically kept together with the task so you don't have to go searching for it when you need to work on the task. This is probably the feature that users of TeamWork Live like the most because it saves them time from having to search for the information necessary to complete their tasks.

Regards,
Tuyen

Clay Spinuzzi said...

Well, you have at least one convert. A colleague of mine who is a longtime Basecamp user has begun using TWL and is very enthusiastic. She brushes aside the criticism of the "team" concept and insists that the thing is entirely intuitive.

The only problem she's encountered is remembering the name. She keeps asking: is it "Live Workteam"? "Live Teamwork"?