I wrote a blog post a while back about time management tools and how simple really is better.
That same mantra holds true when it comes to project management. PM work in itself is quite an undertaking. A good PM has to be familiar not only with the business or “functional” side of a project, but they also have to be familiar with the nuts-and-bolts “technical” side of the project as well. The two halves can make for an interesting ballet, especially when you consider that a PM also has to account for timeline and budget.
There are a myriad of tools and apps available to help PMs manage their workload. Many of these tools are based upon, or heavily rely upon, a Gantt chart. (Henry Gantt, invented the Gantt chart in the 1910s. So while, in 2017 we have self-driving cars, we are still using a Gantt chart the way it was invented.) Gantt charts, while good at visually relating project tasks against time, they aren’t great at identifying risk, or showing a PM what tasks are jeopardizing the timeline.
At Aeon Nexus, we’ve tried many different tools for project management and no one tool seemed to capture “it all” and we found ourselves using several tools to accomplish one job.
Teamwork is a designed and built by a company in Ireland. It is a web-based tool that does so much more than just project management (there are timekeeping and communication modules that can be turned on/off) but for now, I just want to talk about the PM portion.
You can tell that the person that designed Teamwork was someone that was tired of missing project deadlines. You begin by creating a project, just by giving it a name. You can then add date-based milestones, tie task lists to those milestones and then add tasks and sub-tasks to the list. There are quite a few options as you go, for instance, you can allow certain team members (even client team members) access to particular tasks or milestones; you can create dependencies, so “x” must be completed before “y”, you can assign tasks to people OR, wait for it…more than one person! (You’d be surprised how many PM tools expect a single person to accomplish a task.)
As you progress through your project, you can comment on any particular task. Steve can leave a note, in the “Upload completed script” task, letting Jen know that he is missing a file and then slide the “% complete” to 50%. Gretta, in accounting is “following” (a permission that allows identified users to be notified when a task/milestone is changed in any way) so she is now aware that the invoice she is preparing will be delayed because Steve is waiting for Jen to provide a missing file. When Jen uploads the file (there is a tab where files can be uploaded and stored) Steve will be notified. Steve can then check the “Upload completed script” task as complete and Gretta will also be automatically notified the task is complete.
The beauty in Teamwork is that it relies on the tasks you are already doing. There are no “extra steps”. It creates Gantt charts based upon the data and automatically updates without user interface. There are no version control issues. Everyone with access to the project can see, in real-time, in one place, the status of any particular item.
Teamwork just launched a “new version”, which really puts it over the top. They have integrated a dashboard that shows real-time project analytics in a single screen. My favorite part of the dashboard is the task-based donut chart (think pie, with a hole in it) that shows you what tasks are complete, what ones are upcoming and what ones are late. If you click on any one of those graphics, a window will open, listing those tasks. You can edit those tasks right in the window, immediately addressing whatever issues might be occurring.
And finally, not only is Teamwork an easy-to-use, comprehensive tool, it is inexpensive. You don’t have the make the choice between adding users and keeping costs down. Teamwork is a robust tool, providing you with a ton of features (I didn’t even get in to the risk tracking!) for a fraction of similar software.
So I guess it really is true, Teamwork does make the dream work.
*Aeon Nexus Corporation is a paid subscriber to www.teamwork.com and this is an independent opinion of one very organization-obsessed control freak.*