Many small business owners would like the same kind of project and task management systems that much larger companies take for granted -- but price and complexity often holds them back.
Producteev, a small business software company, hopes to change that reality with Producteev 2, the firm's new task management service.
The product's goal is to make task management simple and inexpensive for small businesses by letting project teams use the communications tools they're already familiar with, including Gmail and various instant messaging clients.
Keeping Task Management Simple
Producteev 2 is actually the first commercial product from the firm. An initial version of the product received so much feedback during beta testing last year that it was never released. However, it prompted the company to largely rewrite the package to make the user interface (UI) much less complex to negotiate.
"We found out that people weren't using the features [so] we changed the whole UI, and removed 70 percent to 80 percent of the features [in order] to make it simpler," Ilan Abehassera, CEO and founder of Producteev, told Small Business Computing.
For instance, a creative director at a small advertising agency might need to coordinate tasks and set deadlines with in-house designers, sales people, media buyers, outsourced freelancers and various other team members while planning and implementing an advertising campaign.
Abehassera said that in many cases what people really need is usable task management instead of a feature-heavy project management package. "Lots of small teams want to collaborate on tasks, not projects," he added.
That was a deciding factor for Laurent Kretz, CEO and co-founder of SubMate, a site that lets subway commuters make contact with other riders with similar interests on their daily exodus. He has rolled the SubMate service out in New York, London and Paris so far.
It's About 'Transparency'
"I love many things about [Producteev 2] it, but mainly its 'transparency.' What I mean by that is that I don't need to visit Producteev's Web site to use the service. There are days that I don't go there even once," Kretz said in an e-mail to Small Business Computing.
"I do everything via email and chat, and that's fantastic -- I already spend 10 hours a day on Gmail, so having a perfectly integrated task app in it is really great," Kretz added.
The idea, according to Abehassera, is to make scheduling tasks a seamless experience that doesn't require any change in a person's existing workflow.
"People can now use a task manager without having to go to a Web app if they don't want to. They can send tasks from their e-mail or IM and get notifications back," he said.
Producteev just released a version of the client application that runs on the iPhone via the iTunes store, and Abehassera said the company will have a Mac client out by the end of the month. The company already has a browser-based client, and has a Windows client in the works.
For connectivity, the Producteev team created a Gmail Gadget that plugs into Producteev 2 so that you can quickly see and manage important tasks from within Gmail, Abehassera said. Plus, the client works with a slew of instant messaging services, including Gtalk, Yahoo Messenger, AIM, ICQ and Twitter.
"It was important to help our customers harness email for what it does best -- communicating, but we also needed to facilitate how people capture tasks with a complementary tool that plugs into a broad range of communication tools that are used daily," Abehassera said.
Producteev also has a link to its Facebook page, where savvy users could publish crowdsourcing requests to the public, for example.
It's Also About Affordability
The product has a tiered pricing model. An "individual" subscription to Producteev 2 is free for up to three users; the individual "premium" version costs $9 per month for up to four people.
Producteev has several small business software offerings.A bronze-level subscription costs $29 per month for up to 10 users. The next level up is silver, which costs $54 per month for as many as 20 users. Gold, the most expensive subscription, costs $89 per month. It supports up to 40 users..
Meanwhile, the mobile application, which is free, works offline and syncs in the background when you go back online; it also sends push notifications, according to Producteev.
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