Personal Note: Will be out of town till Thursday, but I have pretty much caught up from e-mail and news overload so posting will be more frequent when I return.
Having tested many project collab and management tools in the past which always seem to end up having something missing (except for Basecamp which I’ve been religiously using for the past year), I was a bit reluctant on trying Wrike, a new project management web app with an emphasis on collaboration and assigning tasks to people. Fortunately, Wrike is one of the tools which I’ve found to be complete in many ways.
Wrike works in two ways. First, it offers the standard web-based interface to create, edit, overview and manage your projects and tasks. On the left hand side are ‘groups,’ which are really like folders and up to the user to decide whether he refers groups to specific projects (i.e. ‘Windows,’ ‘Office,’ ‘XBox,’ ‘Zune’) or specific departments (i.e. ‘Sales,’ ‘Marketing,’ ‘HR,’ ‘PR,’ ‘Management’) or both, since one can create a folder within another one. By clicking on a specific group, you have the option of creating a new task within it. It’s worth noting that groups can be assigned/shared with different people — it’s really like a public mailbox or bulletin-board, what you enter ends up in others’ groups and vice-versa, while each stays independent as to what his or her group contains.
Secondly, what is really the ‘killer’ feature of Wrike is the ability to assign tasks and manage projects through e-mail. Currently patent-pending, this allows you to assign a task to someone by CC’ing an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and specifying a few variables, should you want that task to go into specific groups (for example, a subject containing ‘Complete design of homepage [Web Development] [2.30.2007]’). What’s great about this is that just like a PayPal payment, the user does not need to be registered to get assigned. He’ll simply be invited to it after which if he decides to sign up, will be assigned the task to.
Trying out Wrike, one of the first things you will notice is its e-mail/RSS reader-type interface. It almost looks like GMail or Bloglines but serves a wholly different purpose. Since it’s AJAX-based as well, a lot of the process and editing happens really fast — the only place you have to wait really is for it to save data, i.e. to create something new or edit a pre-existing entry.
Overall, Wrike takes a stance from those calendar-based project management apps to simply sophisticated e-mail. What’s great is that since so many businesses and people use e-mail so frequently, this saves having to check Wrike frequently to check updates, task assignments, or to assign tasks. Given its simplicity with an appealing and familiar interface, it’s a great product.