Intervals, Wrike, and OnStage — Special Online Project Management Issue
By Neil J. Squillante
Choosing an online project management system is a lot like getting married. Realizing you made a terrible mistake carries a great cost. And unlike marriage, project management systems don't offer the safety net of a prenup.
While the companies behind these services may promise that you can extract your data, you'll probably need to hire someone to use what you extract. In other words, choose your project management system even more carefully than you choose your spouse.
Previously in this newsletter, we covered the two heavyweights in this nascent category — Basecamp (see What's a Matter? in the 02-09-05 issue) and CentralDesktop (see Report to Desktop Central in the 09-18-06 issue).
Today, we cover three new contenders — Intervals, OnStage, and Wrike. What do they have that their predecessors lack? Find out in this special edition of TechnoLawyer NewsWire.
INTERVALS: MEDIUM WEIGHT ONLINE PROJECT MANAGEMENT
Intervals attempts to fill a void between lightweight project management applications that don't contain any analytical tools and complex applications that use Gantt charts and the like. With Intervals, you can enter predictions for the time and cost of a project, track both of these metrics, and then analyze how well your predictions fared when you complete the project.
Of importance to lawyers, the time tracking tool features timers, weekly timesheet submissions and approvals, reminders (nags) for those who do not submit their timesheets, and reports that present information in charts. You can also use Intervals to create and track bills. Intervals can even email clients automatically about overdue bills.
Intervals can track your tasks in addition to your time. You can receive email alerts every day listing what's due. If you assign tasks to someone else, you can receive an email alert when a status changes.
Most projects at law firms involve documents. Intervals offers document storage and sharing within projects. You can even associate a document with a task. Intervals supports versioning for revisions of the same document. You can share other file types as well such as photos and videos.
Intervals provides a number of useful reports that you can export in .csv format. For example, you can compare billable versus unbillable time, analyze employee productivity, compare actual hours billed versus your goals, and more.
Intervals offers four different plans that range in price from $20 to $175 per month. The difference among the plans concerns the number of projects and the amount of storage space — plus the two higher-priced plans offer encryption. A free plan also exists that limits you to one project and provides no storage space. Learn more about Intervals.
WRIKE: EMAIL'S LITTLE HELPER
According to Wrike, the world revolves around email. So rather than try to teach old dogs (you) new tricks, it has created an online project management system that integrates with plain old email.
For example, to create a task, you don't have to login. Instead, you can email Wrike directly or if you're assigning the task to someone you can email that person and cc Wrike. Wrike automatically creates a task. If you include a due date in your email message, Wrike can send a reminder to the person responsible for the task as the deadline approaches. At any time, you can log into your Wrike dashboard to see and manage all tasks.
In addition to creating tasks, Wrike transforms email messages about a topic into a Gantt timeline. It also stores your email messages so that you can easily find and search them. Wrike's "Flexible Structures" doesn't force you into the project paradigm. While you can group tasks by project, you can also group them by people, process, or any other system of your choosing — and you can apply multiple types.
Within Wrike itself, you can track time, share files, engage in threaded discussions, and view reports. The reports enable you to drill down to specific data points like a time entry.
Wrike works in Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari and includes free email support. Wrike costs $3.99 per user per month if you commit to the annual plan. The monthly plan costs $4.99 per user per month. Learn more about Wrike.
ONSTAGE: IT'S THE CALENDAR, STUPID
Chmura believes that project management requires a shared calendar. As a result, its OnStage online project management offering features a calendar at its heart. On the main calendar, you can create and view events, milestones, and tasks for all projects. When you enter a project, you see only the items related to that project.
In addition to the calendar, OnStage offers two other ways to view information — dashboards and reports. And within a project, you can share files, exchange messages, and create and manage contacts and tasks. File sharing includes versioning. You can assign tasks and create email alerts when the status changes. You receive messages via email, but they also remain in OnStage grouped in threads and fully searchable.
OnStage works in Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari. The five different plans range in price from $10 to $135 per month. All of them provide SSL encryption so they differ only with regard to the number of projects and storage. A free ad-supported plan provides as many projects (20) and storage (750 MB) as the $20/month plan. Learn more about OnStage.
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