Monday, August 27, 2007 at 12:17am by Site Administrator
Entrepreneurs and business owners of today are so much more likely to be on the go and/or have remote team members. Thus, there’s a greater reliance on technology to stay connected. These so called digital entrepreneurs have a need for project management, collaboration, brainstorming and communication tools. Here’s a small sampling of some web applications that fit the bill. Some are free, some paid, and many have free trials, typically for 30 days.
Here are eleven applications selected for this article – most of which I’ve used or am leaning towards.
Normally, I don’t like recommending applications that are in private beta, but Freelance Folder’s review of 8apps made it look so interesting that I had to mention it. [Thanks to Jon Phillips of Freelance Folder and Smart Wealthy Rich for the invite.]
There are currently 4 apps (with 4 more to come): social networking, brainstorming + mindmapping, meetings management, and task management. Task lists and projects can be private or shared with another 8apps member.
The Blueprint project management app needs a bit of work. As it is currently set up, it’s awkward to add new itesm. For a more indepth review, read Jon’s article, linked above.
Drawback: you can only join if you get invited by a current member. As soon as I have invites to give, I’ll announce them.
Basecamp is 37Signals collaboration tool. It really is as simple to use as they say. You can manage your own projects or outside client projects, adding members as necessary depending on which monthly plan you’ve selected.
Features include but are not limited to messaging, to-do lists, file sharing, time tracking, and milestone scheduling. You can customize the dashboard with color selections and use your own logo, which is ideal for client projects.
The six plans range from free (1 active project, no storage for file sharing) to US$149/mth for unlimited projects and 50Gb of file space. All plans have a 30-day trial.
Someone wrote [via PC World] that there were no Gantt charts in Basecamp. That’s a problem with most web-based project management applications. There is an API, in case you want to integrate Basecamp within your applications.
Campfire is 37Signals group chat application, and can be integrated with Basecamp. In addition to text chat and file sharing, you can discuss live image previews.
If you are working with different teams on various (Basecamp) projects, you can create a different chat room for each. Chat history is stored, so you review previous conversations.
Campfire can be used to add a chat room to your blog, or offer tech support to your customers. Use the API for building custom features. Plans run from free for 4 simultaneous chatters and 10 Mb of space, to $49/mth for up to 60 people at once and 2 Gb of space.
Goplan offers a combination of online project management, collaboration and browser-based text chat. Features include task management, calendars, note sharing and issue tracking. RSS feeds can be used to sync the Goplan calendar to iCal or Outlook. When project changes occur, notifications can currently be sent by email, with instant messaging soon to come.
In essence, Goplan is similar in interface and features to a combination of Basecamp and Campfire, but with some additional features.
The developer API allows customization. Plans range from free for 2 active projects with 4 users and 5 Mb of storage space, up to $100/mth for unlimited projects and users and 8 Gb of storage.
- Google Calendar.
Fine for organizing your tasks and appointments, and can be coordinated with other calendars as well as integrated with other applications.
Google Calendar qualifies here since work calendars can be created which are sharable with one or more team mates. This application also integrates well with other 3rd party task management applications, including Remember the Milk.
GTalk is the chat client built into the GMail (Google Mail) Internet email client. It’s simple and requires no download. As long as you are signed into GMail, you can communicate with other GMail users that are in your contact list. Or you can turn off GTalk if you don’t want to be disturbed. The drawback is that it’s a very minimalist, almost constrictive interface and forces you to stay in your GMail browser tab. Instead, you can pop out the GTalk client, thus allow you to simultaneously use other parts of your browser (that is, if it’s multi-tabbed). If you don’t use GMail, you can also try Meebo, which is a browser-based bridge for several of the most popular text IM chat clients, including Google Talk, the downloaded version of GTalk.
Ikordo is a meeting scheduler that works via email. Given available time slots and contact details of participants, Ikordo negotiates the best meeting time by checking with all parties. Partcipants are then notified of the final time via email, which contains an attachment that you can drag into a calendar. (It’s not clear whether this will work for Google Calendar or a desktop app such as Outlook.)
Meeting reminders can be sent by email or text message, and their timing can be configured. E.g., send email reminders a day before, and a text message an hour before.
Once you’ve invited someone, their contact information is stored in your Ikordo account, for easy retrieval. Invitees do not have have to have an Ikordo account, unless they want to add their availibility through the web interface.
The sytem itself uses NLP (Natural Language Processing), but currently only supports English. There are no user fees at present.
Mindmeister is a web-based mindmapping application. It does not have as many mindmapping features as Mindomo (below) but it does have real-time collaboration. In addition to being able share maps, two or more team members can open a map simultaneously and brainstorm. Any changes to a map are color-coded by person. If further communication is necessary, a Skype conversation (text chat or VoIP) can be launched by clicking on a team member’s name from within Mindmeister.
Mindmeister supports the import of mindmaps from Freemind and Mindjet MindManager. So you can create maps in these applications and share them with team members via Mindmeister. Export to RTF, PDF, Freemind, MindManager or as an image.
There are three plans: basic (free), premium ($4.16/mth), and team ($2.83/mth per person, discount for multiples of 5 members).
Mindomo already has an interface that comes close to rivalling desktop mindmapping applications. Now that’s even more true with new features (some only in Premium) such as node boundary types, relationship types, and hyperlink types.
Additionally, you can open multiple maps and copy branches. The spell checker supports 11 Roman letter-based languages, including English. While it does have the real-time collaborative feature of Mindmeister, you can share maps, and lock a map to prevent simultaneous editing.
Mindomo has four plans: free, premium, business, education. Former two are over the Internet; latter two are installed on local servers.
OnStage is much like Goplan and Basecamp (both above) in terms of interface and functionality. OnStage allows document sharing, change tracking, messages, conversation history, task assignment and monitoring. Each member’s calendar can be sync’d, and tasks and milestones managed from the calendar interface.
The application runs in a variety of browsers (IE6.0, IE7.0, FF, Safari 2.0+) and is supposedly compatible with some handheld devices – though it’s not clear how. There are six plans: free (20 projects, 750 Mb, no encryption, ad supported) plus Basic ($10/mth – Ultimate ($135 /mth). The drawback is that you can only pay through Google Checkout. Yikes. Way to kill your potential sales.
PC World suggests that Wrike is a beefier project management tool than Basecamp (above). Wrike does go beyond in features, and emphasizes managment through email.
The application incorporates a TimeLine view that shows Gantt charts – a rarity amongst web-based PM tools. The TimeLine can be configured for different views based on days, weeks, months, etc.
Tasks can be assigned – including to yourself – by email, which will contain the due date. Configure email alerts based on task triggers. Tag tasks to organize them hierarchically.
Wrike allows management of teams up to 100. The free single-user plan allows 20 tasks and offers 10 Mb of storage space. The Power user account is $5/mth, and professional/ team plans of 15-100 users go for $49 – $249/mth. There’s a 30-day free trial on all of these plans. Note that the free plan does allow sharing with other members. [Thanks to reader Cherry for the tipoff about Wrike.]
Items in this short list are web-based but either are not yet available, do not have full collaborative features, or are not typically associated with project management and related functionality.
- ActionThis. Team management solution. Coming soon.
- Bubbl.us. Mind mapping application, good for brainstorming.
- Google Docs + Spreadsheets. You can put together a basic task list in Google Spreadsheets and share it with other team members. You can even create a semblance of Gantt Charts in a spreadsheet.
- Workspace. Workspace is an online code development environment.
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