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Archive for September, 2010

Sep 01 2010

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Project management system—the search continues

Ever in search of the perfect project management system, I have come across another PM service, in the cloud, that I’d like to pass to you. I’ve heard it said that it is not uncommon for one to try out a particular PM system several times before finding the right one or coming back to one that was looked at many months before.

I think what happens is this: As we work with a variety of project management features, we change our opinions about which features we thought were important. One cannot always know, when first signing on to a PM system, if there will be some features that might end up not working as we expected or hoped, once certain features are discovered. In some cases, a super sexy PM feature may make us just lose our heads in excitement and ignore other, less attractive but more important features we should be looking at. You want sex appeal? Check out ProjectTurf. I dare you.

I spoke about Central Desktop in a previous post. I like Central Desktop (CD) very much, but I am moving away from it. Here’s why. I quickly tired of spending $100 per month … makes sense, doesn’t it? I justified it enthusiastically at first but then, perhaps, came to my senses. In addition, in downgrading to the $50-per-month plan, CD only offers 10 “projects” to work on. Much too limiting.

In searching for a project management system, be aware of the number of projects allowable. Projects are not only clients—they may also be categories such as marketing, PR, showroom issues, accounting, products, suppliers and so on. More and more, I am seeing systems that allow unlimited projects and unlimited users but vary in terms of other features.

I am currently trying out Wrike. As I was looking, looking, looking for another PM system and I would come across Wrike, the words “patent pending” and “intelligent email” finally got my interest. I did a little more research and actually READ a fair amount on their site and others to understand that the connection between email and the project management system … is everything. I’ve used this feature before in Thymer.com and loved it, but Wrike takes it several steps beyond ANYONE. I LOVED Nozbe (very sexy and fun to use) but the email formatting just does not work well in my opinion.

Being super productive with tasks, which many emails are, is about the ability to a) email tasks to a system easily (I emphasize easily) and b) the holy grail: the inclusion of attachments, files, images, VIA EMAIL which, when they end up in the project management system, provide the task recipient everything he/she needs to get that task done.

Wrike has several patents pending. I am using Wrike to email tasks to a particular person who has access to Wrike and the task goes into a particular folder within Wrike…again, easily. I can put a due date in my email to Wrike for the task as well.

The theory is that emails are not letters. They are tasks. As such, they are disconnected, disjointed, and if you get many emails, they very easily fall through the cracks, and I can attest to that. Every few days, discounting spam and newsletters, I end up with 200-300 emails. If I do not keep up, I’m in trouble. Right now, I am thrilled to have 24 emails in my inbox, and my goal is to continually have zero, with all tasks in Wrike, neatly organized by date due, project and task recipient.

At first glance, Wrike looks like a typical PM system. I think it is very powerful. I cannot go further into its many powerful features here, but take a look, give it some time and see if it’s for you. It’s definitely not sexy (which I wish it were, after all, I’m a designer) but it’s a workhorse.

In the end, it’s difficult to have ALL of the features we may wish for. We need to consider price, number of users permitted, number of projects, email to task features, general user interface and more. Everyone’s needs are different. As I search for a way to save time and as I believe email, tasks, and a project management system are integrated, like it or not, Wrike is where I am focused right now. I’d love to hear about your experiences and opinions on project management systems.

Susan Serra

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