I recently spoke with Andrew Filev, founder of Wrike, an online project management tool. Wrike is positioned to be easier than such complex project management tools, as Microsoft Project, on one hand. At the same time, it provides more flexible and effective tools than what people often resort to for simple projects, the use of email and spreadsheets.
Wrike is designed for the small to mid-size business and for simple projects within larger corporations. It will not help you build an airplane but it can handle many simple simultaneous projects that require coordination and connectivity between them. It offers the transparency of enterprise 2.0 and takes project management outside of the silos of email and attached applications.
Ease of use is a guiding design principle and it comes through in several ways. First, team members can work within their familiar email. If they add email@example.com to the cc line in an email the tasks in the email get integrated into the Wrike so everyone can see the status. Wrike will then send out automated email reminders about overdue tasks.
Second, the organization is flexible. With a tool like MS project, a team will spend a lot of time creating a single hierarchy to govern project tasks. Then they are mostly stuck with it. I know this from painful experience. With Wrike you can start with some tasks and then build a hierarchy around it. You can also have multiple hierarchies for the same project slicing in terms of client, product, process, etc. Your project organization can grow organically and adapt to changes and new reporting requirements.
Wrike provides a project dashboard where you assign tasks, organize and reorganize them as described above, and attach any relevant files. You also get visualization tools like timelines and the ability to generate reports. There is a free version with limited functionality that you can provide team members outside your organization or clients so they can read status updates and provide input on Wrike projects without having to purchase the software.
SayitRight Marketing Solutions provides an example of how an enterprise 2.0 tool can rescue a firm from complex email messes. They needed to share project status with clients and their email system inbox evolved into the project management tool. Wrike enabled them to escape from this siloed spaghetti to have a single place, transparent to those who needed to know. Sharing project status with clients and getting input did not require extra effort on the part of team members. When email was used, it updated the project status in Wrike so everyone could see. Clients were provided with a self serve way to check project status and comment 24/7 and everyone could see the big picture as well as the details.
I am pleased to see more tools like Wrike emerge that take advantage of the enterprise 2.0 paradigm and learn about more resulting success stories. It reminds a bit of what Al Essa did when he was CIO at MIT Sloan, An Enterprise 2.0 Poster Child in the IT Department, except this is a tool that is available for those who do not have those resources to create a home grown version and it has email integration. Andrew said they first created Wrike to meet their own needs and then decided to make it available to others. This is another cross-post from the Fast Foward blog as I like to share these interviews with both audiences.