by Stephanie Miles
Published on 11 June 2013
WorkZone is a web-based project management application that hits the sweet spot for larger organizations and marketing departments, combining the sophisticated tools typically reserved for high-end platforms (like Microsoft Project) with the intuitive design that entry-level task management systems (like Basecamp) have become known for.
In this WorkZone review, I will demonstrate how marketing agencies and inter-office teams can manage projects and interact with clients from within the system. Because WorkZone was built with marketing departments, ad agencies, and service firms in mind, I will pay close attention to the platform's tools for creating distinct workspaces for multiple groups. Finally, I will test the platform's document sharing features and offer my recommendation to business owners who are thinking about integrating a project management platform into their existing workflows.
Founded in 2002 by Rick Mosenkis, WorkZone is one of the longest running players in the project management sphere. The web-based system offers all the advanced reporting and scheduling tools that agencies and marketing departments require, without the cumbersome interface still used in many high-end project management platforms.
WorkZone takes apart the typical project workflow and puts it back together in a way that makes sense, providing users with daily email summaries of all the tasks they need to accomplish across multiple projects. New projects can be created in mere seconds using WorkZone's templates, decreasing the time managers spend trying to keep their teams organized.
Rather than adding technology for technology's sake, WorkZone has taken a streamlined approach to project management. The tools it provides to businesses are simple and straightforward, making it possible to onboard new users in just a few basic steps. Group calendars, team to-do lists, and task dependency features allow managers to juggle dozens of projects without missing a beat. WorkZone also improves cross-project consistency for large agencies and teams.
WorkZone can be separated into two main parts: project management and document sharing. The bulk of a team's work happens inside the project management section, where managers can view the status of multiple projects on a single page. Projects are separated into buckets, called workspaces, and related projects can be grouped together for easier viewing. Status alerts notify managers when a project has gone off course, typically because of missed deadlines or client delays.
To dig deeper into the status of any project, managers can view detailed to-do lists meted out by project or employee. WorkZone provides each staffer with his own list of daily tasks, which can be reviewed and marked as complete at the end of the day. The level of detail on any project is proportionate to how long the project has been going on, with longer projects requiring more steps than shorter tasks.
Another main component of WorkZone is document sharing. WorkZone offers collaboration tools similar to web services like Dropbox, with a folder-tree layout reminiscent of a user-friendly FTP site. Businesses can securely store virtually any type of file in the web-based platform, and they can set flexible permissions to determine which clients, freelancers, or employees have access to which documents or files. Department leads can request approvals on files from clients, and they can send automated email alerts when those approvals are due. WorkZone supports single files up to 1 GB in size.
Busy teams can get more work done in less time when they use WorkZone for project management and document sharing. The web-based platform is accessible from any computer, and its interface is designed in a way that makes using the system a breeze. The technology behind WorkZone fades into the background, making it possible for professionals to focus on what really matters - the work they're doing.
WorkZone uses Gantt charts to display project schedules, and provides managers with workload reports that show how many planned hours each employee has been scheduled to work over the course of the coming weeks. Using these charts (and separate workload reports), managers can quickly see which specific team members have too much on their plates, and balance the workload by bringing in additional help when necessary.
Unlike many of its competitors, WorkZone offers custom-branding options that businesses can use to create workspaces with their own logos and color schemes and those of clients. Agencies that frequently work with outside clients will find this feature especially useful, since WorkZone doubles as a "meeting space" where they can collaborate within the confines of a virtual environment.
At the core of every workspace is the Task List, where you'll find a list of every project going on at a given time. Review the start and end dates of each project, filter projects by status, and click on specific tasks to find out more about any current holdups.
Clicking on a specific task brings up a detailed information sheet about that task, providing you with information about who is responsible and how close the task is to being complete. Team members can leave comments underneath individual tasks, providing the responsible party with execution tips or notes for future reference.
Viewing project schedules in Gantt chart mode makes it easy to see how busy your department is going to be in the coming weeks or months, and gives you a heads up about any issues that could delay a project's completion.
Drag and drop files from your desktop into the Document Manager platform, then select permissions to limit access to anything that may be deemed sensitive. Clients can comment on the files you've uploaded using the notepad feature, and you can quickly create new versions of specific files without overwriting the original documents. You can also use the image markup tool to add comments directly onto a PDF or image, as way to save time and aid in the collaboration process.
While WorkZone is very intuitive, it offers initial training and unlimited free support to help customers get up and running quickly and successfully. In addition to complete telephone support, users can view video tutorials and read best practices checklists, along with a full user's manual, to get a deeper understanding of how to use the project management platform.
WorkZone pricing is determined based on the number of users, with prices starting at $25 per user. WorkZone also offers volume discounts.
WorkZone is an excellent solution for larger organizations (especially ad agencies and marketing departments) that need help staying on top of multiple ongoing projects. The platform's template tools make it easy to replicate similar project processes, while daily email digests ensure every team member knows exactly what he or she needs to do to move the project along. Managers can save time when they use WorkZone to keep their departments on track, and they can decrease the penalty costs typically associated with delays or missed deadlines.
Ratings: ease of use 5/5, features 5/5, value 5/5 and ease of deployment 5/5