Review: Why We Love TeamworkPM – Web Based Project Management App

Here at Design By Day we use TeamworkPM, a really great browser based project management application, to manage our projects, time track, and work with our clients and collaborators. It took us a while to eventually settle on the right application for us. To help other similar creative studios and web design agencies make a quicker and informed decision we feel we owe it to our colleagues in the design world to explain why.

Teamworkpm logo


Project management needs for a small design and digital agency

Design By Day consists of myself, 2 designers, a studio manager and a web developer. Despite being a small team, managing our projects, time, budgets, freelancers and communications would be an overwhelming task if we didn’t use a solid project management application. Our core team are based in Manchester, but our clients, freelancers and clients are based all over the UK and the rest of the world, so clearly something cloud-based and not platform dependant was essential.

Backtrack 5 years and there was just 2 of us. Project management was pretty easy as we generally looked after our own projects. Jump forward to July last year (2013) and we really needed a application to help us keep track of projects.

Our must have features were:

  • Time tracking
  • Calendar
  • Task Lists
  • Message boards
  • Browser based

Basecamp & Time Tracking

The popularity of Basecamp, it’s reputation as an industry standard, and the fact that a number of our clients and collaborators used it, meant that it was an obvious initial choice.

Basecamp logo   Harvest logo

Unfortunately at this time 37Signals dropped the time tracking feature from Basecamp which was high up on our list of requirements. There was obviously the option to use Basecamp Classic which supported Time Tracking (something that a number of our clients and collaborators who were long term Basecamp users had opted for), but using the legacy version didn’t appeal to us and we wanted something that would satisfy our needs from the start.

In an attempt to use the new version of Basecamp, we decided to using a third party time tracking app called Harvest that integrated with Basecamp (a full list of 3rd party apps can be found here). Whilst a nice app in it’s own right, it felt like too much of a work around with extra cost. We needed a simpler solution that included all the features we required. So knocking that route on the head and began exploring again.

FunctionFox

At the same time we’d been trialling FunctionFox. Unfortunately this was at the other end of the PM spectrum: oo many features, a lot less intuitive than Basecamp, and a whole lot of clicks to do what should be simple tasks. On the plus side it had time tracking and many other features.

Function Fox logo

Freckle & Trello

Through recommendations on social media and via our colleagues we tried another couple of apps:

Freckle logo   Trello logo

Whilst all these apps were really great for their individual tasks, we needed something that provided us with a fuller range of PM features.

Just Google it!

Googling phrases such as “Similar to Basecamp” and “Alternative to Basecamp”, I eventually came across a couple of articles talking about TeamworkPM versus Basecamp:

http://geekyscribbles.com/basecamp-vs-teamwork-pm-why-we-packed-up-camp-and-moved/
http://foliovision.com/2013/04/basecamp-v-teamworkpm

Many of the shortcomings that i’d found with other applications seemed to be reconciled with TeamworkPM. We signed up to the 30 day free trial. Before we knew it, our working lives had become much easier, organised and productive! At the end of the trial we signed up without hesitation. 6 months and lots of use later, it’s clear that this is definitely the project management app for us.


So what’s so great about TeamworkPM?


1. Easy to use

Well that’s a biggie! One of the main sell factors about Teamwork PM is it’s easy to use dashboard. The layout and user-flow has clearly been very carefully thought out. It’s simple and easy to use and the number of great PM features doesn’t compromise the user experience. The use of drag and drop for many features such as ordering task and categorising subtasks feels really intuitive.

Adding projects, tasks, hours worked, milestones and users was a snip. Everything is added through modals which helps with knowing whereabouts in the app you are! Everything is very contextual and adding users to projects and managing user privileges is all super straightforward.


2. Lots of highly useful features

Task Lists

The tasks list is a really great feature of Teamwork. Tasks can be associated with dates, people, milestones, and of course projects. We use this feature all the time for managing tasks of internal staff freelancers and even clients. Tasks show up in users task feeds and also on the calendar (provided there is a date associated with it). Ticking off tasks is met with a rewarding strikethrough and completed tasks can still be accessed and made live if needed.

Tasks also have plenty of other features including:

  • privacy options
  • reminders
  • file attachments
  • dependencies
  • priorities
  • progress
  • repeating tasks

Teamwork tasklists


Milestones

Milestones and Tasks are also available for quick view from the main dashboard and can be filtered by:

  • Upcoming Milestones
  • Late Milestones
  • Upcoming Tasks
  • Late Tasks
  • Upcoming Milestones

Teamwork - Milestones


Time Tracking

A big one for us that moved our focus from Basecamp to TeamworkPM! Time tracking is simple. You can either start a timer or manually log hours against a particular task or sub-task related to a project as shown in the modal below. This feature has been essential for us to deliver our projects on time and in budget.

Teamwork - log time modal
Log time modal

Teamwork PM time tracking
Time report


Calendar

Previously we’d been using Google Calendar to book in work, meetings and tasks. Luckily TeamworkPM syncs with Google Calendar so the transition was made easier whilst we weaned ourself off the application we’d found useful for the past 4 years.

The calendar allows you to filter by project and, or by person giving clarity to a potentially busy month.

Teamwork calendar

All time-based or date associated items are displayed in the calendar from all projects. There is also the ability to add events that don’t have to be associated with a particular project (such as meetings and staff holidays etc). Milestones are highlighted in yellow for easy skimming and tasks are viewable on rollover of the ‘Task’ link in the bottom left f each days cell. This means that you can have as many tasks as you with to the day without the calendar becoming too crowded.


Simple messaging and file sharing

Common to many PM apps, messaging and file sharing has been hugely important to us to keep track on project communications and ensure that all resources and materials are kept in one place and easily accessed by everyone working on the project. The TeamworkPM message feature has a nice interface with all the usual features such as privacy settings, notifications, user photos, share files, with a few more unusual features such as ‘like’ and export messages to pdf.

Teamwork Messaging

For a full list of features, visit the features page on the TeamworkPM site.


3. Reporting

TeamworkPM reporting features include:

  • Project reports detailing project history to date: tasks, hours, assigned people, status etc.
  • Project charts detailing each project alongside each other for global comparison of timescales, deadlines and milestones.
  • Usage reports for: Users and Items (Tasks / Milestones etc) over a specified time period
  • Gantt charts reports for tasks. Check out the full details on the TeamworkPM site.

These are all displayed in HTML, some with the option to export and download a pdf.

Teamwork - project report
Project Report

TeamworkPm Project Chart
All project chart view


4. Brandable

Not an important one for us as we’re happy to just upload our logo and get project managing, but for those who are more concerned about internal branding there’s plenty of features.


5. Native Apps / Responsive Design

TeamworkPM also has native apps including:

  • iPhone
  • iPad
  • Android
  • The full web app is also responsive

6. Roadmap – feature requests

The guys at TeamworkPM really listen to their user-base and welcome feature requests and suggestions from clients. Check out their Roadmap of new, pending and in-discussion features. This makes me want to stick with them for the long-haul!


Room for improvement?

We really have very few niggles about TeamworkPM. It ticks 99% of our boxes and is most certainly the best PM app we’ve used at Design By Day. The only requests that we’d be inclined to ask for are:

Request 1:

Visualisation of tasks that spread across a number of days in the calendar

Whilst each user’s task list displays the task they are required to complete for that day or over a number of days, when viewing the calendar a task that may span from Monday 13th to Wednesday 15th only shows up on Wednesday 15th (being the day that completion is required). This obviously causes some confusion from time to time.

Teamwork task in calendar

Request 2:

Time Record: Filtering by tasks

Many of our projects consist of a number of tasks and subtasks. It would be great to be able to filter time records by tasks and subtasks.

Teamwork PM time records


To summarise

It’s no understatement to say that TeamworkPM has begun to change the way we work. Time tracking, time estimating and milestones have helped us with productivity, time-management and more accurate cost estimates. Task lists and messaging ensure that clients are kept in the loop outside of phone calls, meetings and emails. Completed task notifications save us time and energy on emails, and everyone on a particular project knows exactly what they and their team mates doing at any given time.

We share our studio with our talented pals Boomerang, a digital marketing agency, who have also been down a similar path as us looking for a project management app that ticked all their boxes. They’ve recently started using TeamworkPM, and although it’s early days they seem to be loving it!

TeamworkPM



WRITTEN BY

Angela Roche

PUBLISHED IN

Studio / Team