by Rakesh Sharma
Published on 23 January 2013
There is beauty in simplicity. All of us know that. With its schedules, resources, and messy deadlines, project management can be anything but simple. And, so it goes with project management solutions. However, help might be at hand.
This week we will review Teamwork PM - a project management tool that is easy-to-use and increases collaboration between managers, staff and clients. We will look at its features, interface, and see how it can be of use to you.
Teamwork PM is a comprehensive project management tool. According to its website, the tool enables a "bird's eye view" of all your projects. This means that you can it enables you to keep updated about multiple projects, track deliverables and schedule reports for your efforts. Creating projects in Teamwork PM is fairly simple and easy. Simply click a link from the dashboard and you are ready to roll.
Incidentally, the dashboard provides a live stream of your project specifics, including a snapshot of your project details. The application provides a nested structure for display of project specifics. Thus, Teamwork PM can be used for program management as well. The dashboard also displays notifications associated with each project. Clicking on the associated notification will enable you to navigate to specific projects. Once a project has been assigned a name, you can configure its specifics, including milestones and associated tasks and resources. You can assign roles, upload logos and reassign items from the home page for a project.
One of the more interesting features is related to risk management: you can assign specific risk registers for each project. The risk register functions as a forecasting mechanism for projects and assigns a risk probability and risk source for each project. However, I was not clear about the utility of risk register. For example, assigning a risk probability should, typically, impact schedules or, at least, be woven into project stages. Each project has a customized overview screen that lists upcoming milestones and functions like a mini-dashboard for the project. Thus, you can view milestones by appropriate time periods such as weekly or biweekly reports. Similarly, you can also generate specific project reports related to each time period. Another interesting feature is the Teamwork PM timer that functions like a stopwatch to measure tasks across projects.
Although it lacks a project workspace or sandbox, Teamwork PM incorporates a wiki-style notebook for each project. The notebook functions as a running commentary on the project and, I would assume, can also be used to assign work instructions or generate discussions about each project. However, based on my assessment, each notebook seems to be created outside the project (instead of being associated with specific projects). It might be an idea for the folks behind Teamwork PM to integrate notebooks with each project, instead of having a generic notebook for program management.
Another area that could be improved is display of project metrics. Currently, the metrics being displayed are limited in number and the visual display could be improved. For example, including a project progress chart (similar to a Gantt chart) would enable users to view project metrics in a snapshot.
That said, Teamwork PM scores pretty high on the customization and flexibility scale. Each feature of the solution can be customized from site settings to the dashboard appearance (such as theme or color) can be customized. You can also backup your database using the solution. The export is in an MySQL format and is a fairly simple process that results in a zip file format. This feature enables you to recreate your database locally.
Teamwork PM also integrates with several third-party file-sharing solutions such as DropBox, Google Drive, and Box to simplify file-sharing. Finally, each project and program is assigned an RSS feed that enables users to track project actions associated with each feed.
This is one area where the solution scores well. Teamwork PM's interface is extremely simple and easy-to-use and minimizes clutter related to program management. It uses responsive design principles; hence, it is adaptable to mobile devices. The application uses a project-specific approach (as opposed to a task-based approach) to display screens. Thus, the dashboard provides an overview of all your projects.
You can navigate to each project's individual page from this screen. Similarly, you can also filter projects for specific criteria using the "Everything" link. Alternately, you can view details of your tasks for that specific date using the "Calendar" link or navigate to specific resource status using the "Statuses" link. At each stage, you can switch between projects or view resource details associated with each project. To further simplify the application, it might be an idea for the folks at Teamwork PM to consider adding a horizontal overview menu that displays project specifics.
Teamwork PM offers comprehensive support that spans multiple platforms. Thus, the solution contains help files and formats associated with the solution. For example, the solution has an FAQ section and associated PDFs. The folks behind Teamwork PM have co-opted users into the development process by integrating a feedback mechanism that enables users to file bugs to the development team using freely-available software. Teamwork PM has also adopted the social paradigm by integrating tweets about the solution into feeds on a separate page. The page collates customer recommendations onto a separate page. I thought this was a pretty innovative use of social media for branding.
I thought this was a pretty useful solution for small businesses that manage multiple small projects and are interested in a relatively low-maintenance and easy-to-use solution. Although it does not possess the complexity of high-end project management solutions, it works very well for small businesses.