by Jonathan Garro
Published on 6 February 2014
WORKetc Review - A business app that can manage several different aspects of your business
Compartmentalization is a dangerous pitfall that traps business of all shapes and sizes, often without its victim's notice. Over time, different departments within a company have the tendency to separate themselves from each other, only communicating with each other when absolutely necessary.
As a result, the inability of employees to collaborate laterally across each division and distinct lack of a checks and balances system interdepartmentally stifles innovation, stunts growth and drains company morale.
To prevent this issue, a number of business apps are attempting to bridge the gaps that separate each faucet of business within an organization. One that stands out is WORK[etc] which bills itself as a "business management system" and claims to consolidate CRM, project management, customer support, sales and day-to-day operations into a single unified system.
However, trying to label WORK[etc] is doing it a disservice; there's simply no industry-standard term that describes what the app can do - consolidate your entire business into a single app with all the tools and resources you need to manage it.
In this WORK[etc] review, I will walk through the most important features that make up this all-in-one business management application and examine some cases where it can benefit a company.
When you log in to WORK[etc] for the first time, you'll be presented with the Getting Started Wizard, which will guide you through the initial setup of your company's workspace.
Once the wizard is complete, you'll be brought to your personal dashboard; this is the home page within WORK[etc], providing you with a top-level view of your entire business using customizable widgets to allow you to mix and match what you want to see when you visit your dashboard.
By default, the dashboard's widgets show timesheets, documents, work items and support tickets relevant to your account. Company-wide memos or announcements can be added at the top of the page, directly above the user's widgets, by administrators, which links to an internal message board where employees can post any questions or comments they have regarding a notice.
Navigating WORK[etc]'s user interface is a mostly intuitive process, relying on a ubiquitous navigation bar that incorporates drop-down menus to neatly organize its extensive feature into eight broad categories, allowing users to go directly to almost any tool or feature with a single click from anywhere in the system.
For a service that claims to be a multi-solution for sales, project, operations, customer support and billing management, it's a lot easier to find where you need to go than one would think.
To explore how WORK[etc] works, let's go through each of these functions:
I am going to start with the Work page, as it is the easiest way to demonstrate the scope of the WORK[etc] app. This section includes several tabs, including To-dos, Activity Stream, Priority, Progress, and People. All of these tabs help you to better organize projects. When creating a project, you assign members - consisting of the project creator, client, and responsible employees - and then you can toggle whether you want the client to be able to view the project status directly in WORK[etc] . You can attach a project to an existing item, meaning that new projects can be added to anything from an existing bill to a customer support ticket, making anything in WORK[etc] a potentially actionable item. The project can be given a priority, a category, and you can set the completion progress as a percentage. Projects can be assigned a budget, and milestones can be created to track progress. Billing can be done based on a fixed price or on a timesheet basis. Commissions can be tracked as well.
While project creation is just a small slice of what WORK[etc] does, the integration that the whole app has with each project demonstrates the way the app can kill several birds with a single stone, as you will see in the remaining sections.
WORK[etc] can serve as a single unified database for all of your contact information. The contacts tab can show you all of your contacts, or break them down by people, companies, workgroups, and employees. The table that this information is presented in is highly customizable, with drag and drop columns to re-arrange content to suit your needs, and a gear at the top right allows you to select and deselect which categories are shown. Powerful search features help you find what you need, and export features allow you to save the database in CSV format. Adding contacts can be done quickly with the sidebar widget or with a bulk upload feature. You can upload from CSV or import data from your Highrise or Basecamp account.
The contacts feature is immensely useful.
These contacts are accessible throughout WORK[etc] . If you create a new project and need to assign an employee to it, they can be selected via a drop-down. Clients can be added to projects, bills, and more in the same way. Searches can quickly reveal what projects are currently being worked on for a particular client, what to-dos an employee is working on, what time-sheets an employee has yet to submit, etc.
Email was invented decades ago, and despite its inefficiencies, businesses still depend on it for communication. WORK[etc] 's discussions feature helps to get employees out of their email inboxes and into the web app, where conversations are more open and easier to track. The discussions page uses the same tabular structure as many other pages, and helps you filter conversations based on a number of factors. You can follow a conversation to stay on top of what two or more other contacts are discussing or you can filter conversations that only involve you. Discussions that you "like" are saved in another tab so that you can bookmark anything of importance.
Discussions are a great way to communicate in the app.
These discussions work very well, and integrate as you would expect with the contacts database that you build. As you type a name, WORK[etc] looks up the person you are referring to and tags them in the message to alert them.
The sales page opens on My Leads, where you can track information relevant specifically to you. A button allows you to quickly add new leads and assign them either to yourself or to another member of your team. Below, you will find a table that lists leads, and includes information such as sales process, status, value, and more. As with the other tables, everything can be dragged and reordered, and columns can be added or removed as needed. The action button attached to each record includes a menu of extremely convenient options. Certain actions, such as calling the lead, brings up a window to generate a new to-do to contact the person. Meetings can be scheduled and added to the calendar, invoices can be generated, or an entirely new project can be created right from the lead page.
Other tabs, including Unassigned Leads, By Owner, By Stage, and by status allow you to filter the leads and keep them organized. The Sales Activities tab creates a vertical calendar that logs activities and helps visualize how you and your team are dealing with leads.
There are plenty of invoicing apps available to businesses, but any time you can integrate that functionality directly into an app the way WORK[etc] does, you can save plenty of time and frustration. While I wouldn't say that WORK[etc] could necessarily replace a more robust accounting solution, it does allow you to track invoices based on their status (issued, paid, canceled), and to track expenses. As with the other features, WORK[etc] 's deep integration allows you to generate all of this information based on activities elsewhere in the app. I took the time to manually create an invoice, and all of the inputs that you would expect from an invoicing app are there. However, it is not quite as seamless of a process as you will find with more specialized invoicing apps, nor is the final product as visually appealing.
Of course, you can always export your financial data for use with another app. You can export using CSV, PDF, QuickBooks, and Open Financial Exchange formats. You have some control over the export process as well, with options to only export information between specific dates, and to filter out which invoices are saved based on their status.
Filtering is available throughout the app, and you have the ability to perform all kinds of customized searches. Smart lists are another way to automatically populate with results that match the criteria you input. For instance, you might want to keep an up-to-date list of customers who live in San Francisco and purchased the most recent version of your software. These smart lists can be created with an incredible level of customization, using filters based on locations, tags, emails, social media files, events, timesheets, to-dos, projects, support cases, leads, products, invoices, and expenses. A box in the right column shows a summary of your filter settings, and you can quickly preview the results of your smart list.
Reports can be created for a variety of topics.
Other convenient reporting features are also available. You can generate web forms with all sorts of formatted and unformatted fields and layout elements, and then add it to your site. The feedback that customers and site visitors send to you can be analyzed in any number of ways, including bar and pie charts, widgets, and more.
WORK[etc] uses a four-tier pricing structure. The Starter package costs $78 per month and allows 2 users, 2,000 contacts, and gives 3GB of storage. The Team package costs $195 and increases those limits to 3 users, 10,000 contacts and 15GB, and it adds social media, email marketing, a customer portal, accounting integrations, and reporting. The Foundations package costs $395, increases limits to 20,000 contacts and 50GB of storage, and it adds a contractor portal and deeper reporting. Finally, the Platform package costs $595, increases the limits to 50,000 contacts and 100GB, and adds custom reporting.
The development team behind WORK[etc] clearly set out to create a comprehensive app designed to be your business' unified solution for managing each department from a centralized location. While many of the app's features would be valuable even if they stood alone, they come together to form a masterpiece - a single app to track and manage your entire business.
Despite its impressive functionality and convenience of use, it's not perfect; the app obviously wasn't designed to be visually appealing, and certain elements feel oddly placed. For example, the invoicing feature works perfectly well for creating an entirely functional invoice, but you're not going to win any favor with aesthetically-minded customers; like WORK[etc] itself, the invoice has a structured layout and only shows you what you need to see.
Overall, WORK[etc] is well worth trying out and a pleasure to use compared to resorting to a mish-mash of software services that result in a constant struggle to integrate and accurately export data between each other.
You can try WORK[etc] for a 14-day free trial available through their website. No credit card is required.