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Summary:

I’ve been using Web-based project management tools both as fodder for blog posts but, more importantly, to explore how they might positively impact my Web work. I’ve been using Basecamp the longest and pay about $24/month for a slightly upgraded service. After a small learning hump, […]

Joint Contact homeI’ve been using Web-based project management tools both as fodder for blog posts but, more importantly, to explore how they might positively impact my Web work. I’ve been using Basecamp the longest and pay about $24/month for a slightly upgraded service. After a small learning hump, most of my virtual team members are on board and some of my clients are working with it.

I also started using Deskaway‘s free level of service for a new client project as I wrote about in May, and after a little over a month using it, my team and I are abandoning it because it just hasn’t been intuitive enough for us. So I recently learned about Joint Contact through a series of serendipitous events and decide to try it out. Next thing you know, I’m getting a demo from the company’s founder and having a great discussion about usability issues and incorporating social media tools into project management tools, namely Twitter.

What? Twitter incorporated into Joint Contact? What does that mean exactly?

Well, first, I have to say that from a usability standpoint, for me Joint Contact falls somewhere between Basecamp (which I find to be pretty straightforward) and Deskaway (which I find to be a bit confusing), and much closer to the Basecamp end of things. Like many new companies, they use some of their own terminology that doesn’t necessarily match up with what I’d expect things to be.

For example, when I wanted to sign up a team member, I couldn’t figure out where to go. Team History? No. Contacts? Maybe. But as I set her up as a contact, I saw a feature to convert her to an account then realized that team members were called Accounts and to add a team member you went to Subscriptions (Accounts). Messages are “Conversations.” Projects are “Workspaces.”

Once I wrapped my head around the terminology, I had a little blip with the icons. The workspace icon looks a little bit like a briefcase but I think it is supposed to be a folder. In Conversations, you cannot access the messages unless you realize you must click the tiny talk bubbles to the far right of the Conversation title. In Tasks, once I created one, I couldn’t figure out how to get back into it and during the demo learned that the little stapler icon on the far right was clickable. My comment that it would be helpful if the task title was also clickable was met with genuine enthusiasm.

Joint Contact WorkspaceBut before you think I’m disappointed with Joint Contact, I have to say that not only do I love their clean interface, I love their eye toward innovation. They are trying to rethink the way we each work with our Web-based project management tools, from how we toggle between email and the Web-based tool to how our tasks also often have subtasks and that document management is as important as message management so being able to make certain files private versus public is useful.

The thing I’m most intrigued by is how Joint Contact is looking to integrate Twitter into their toolset to provide yet another way to notify team members of a new Conversation added to the Workspace. While this feature is still in the preliminary stages of implementation (i.e. available now but not with all anticipated capabilities), just thinking about how Twitter could actually be used as a work tool is getting my wheels turning about its implications on work process and information flow.

The company imagines several scenarios for Twitter integration. You can set up a private Twitter account for your team members and they can follow your tweets. Then tweets related to the project show up each time a new Conversation is posted letting them know to log in and get cracking – the title of each message in Conversations is the content of each tweet. All Conversations that have been “tweeted” have a tiny Twitter icon next to it. You can also set up a Workspace that consists solely of Conversations that you want to broadcast to Twitter and manage all “tweeted” messages in one place.

If you are someone like me who could use all the nudges I can get – from an email to a Tweet to a text message – in order to pay attention to something that needs to get done, I could change my Twitter settings to receive text messages for that particular project management Twitter account. And voila! I’m now fully informed, even when I’m Twittering and/or away from my computer.

Scott Blitstein recently wrote about Basecamp adding a new email interface that allows you to not only interact with Basecamp via email to respond to Messages, but you can now set up new project items. You can “create and assign custom email addresses to any area of your project and then forward messages, to-do items and milestones directly into your project without logging in.”

One piece that is missing from the Twitter integration right now is pretty mission-critical in my mind: the Conversation tweet does not yet have a link that brings you back into Joint Contact immediately – but that is definitely in the works. Still, if Joint Contact can provide this kind of functionality through Twitter or another more stable social networking/microblogging tool…I don’t know, it just seems to be a missing link in working through Web-based project management apps.

Keep your eye on Joint Contact, and if you like new apps that you can actively participate in helping to make a good product better, your input can really help the company to work out the fine details. You can read more about their thoughts about their Twitter integration on their corporate blog.

You can try them for free, and you get two users and two workspaces at that level. But if you upgrade to a paid account within 7 days of signing up for free, they will double your value to reward you for upgrading so quickly. If you choose a 5 user account at $15/month, they’ll automatically upgrade you to a 10 user account at the 5 user price – a $25/month value for only $15/month – and that price lasts for the duration of your account.

  1. Fredene Scott Thursday, July 3, 2008

    To the manager and owner of Joint Contact.

    Great job, keep up the good work.
    My friend Densise has enjoy her
    conection with your company and the timesaver.
    The Scotts

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  2. Didn’t know BC had this new e-mail thing. Makes me regret choosing ActiveCollab :(

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  3. I just upgraded to Deskaway’s Professional Account – i dont see any problems with interface. Infact it’s quite clear and clutter free. Probably a matter of perspective. DA just added the ability to replicate tasks – i think email integration is on its way as well. Basecamp did the same following Wrike i think. Using Social Media tools for Project Management is great. Taking a cue from another DA user – iv started using Google Apps for chat and then alligned that with DA (chat is something thats missing in DA and the rest). While i think the Twitter idea is great – its more style than substance. As is see it – email is still the center of the social media pie – no matter what ‘experts’ may claim. I honestly dont see the Twitter integration solving a new problem.

    At the core of PM as long as you have a dashboard, a tracking, reporting and analytics tool, an ability to control a few processes, and outreach to stakeholder through 1 mainstream medium – all this fanciful stuff doesn’t really matter in my opinion.

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  4. Just to add – for Joint Contact – the pricing is bordering on ridiculously expensive – my company has just started and in a short span we have accumulated about 30 free lance copywriters to work with us, there’s a design team, and a few coders. So the number overall goes to about 35 employees. And mine is a ‘small business’. If you compare pricing for DA and Joint Contact then you would notice that there is a start difference. As i stated earlier – i dont think the twitter integration solves a real world problem – its a fancy. So having seen that – and seen other features on Joint Contract, its a little overpriced. So a company like mine which is services based and works with about 10 – 15 clients a month, the professional plan at about $250 a year works well for me (i could do with a personal plan as well) – its project based pricing which i think also helps streamline things beause really – which company (small) works on ‘unlimited projects’ – if it does – that company is bound to die soon. If i used Joint Contact – at a team of about 35, it works out to $960 a year. Would you pay more than triple the price for just Twitter integration? I would not.

    I do appreciate the interface being developed by Joint Contact – quite like the look and feel of the site but i just think its being a little too overhyped and its not exactly perfect for the end user – it maybe great for internet geeks who want to philander some money but my take is that for the average joe or raj or abdul :) – it doesn’t really solve too many problems. It may in fact complicate them.

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  5. Hi Aliza,
    Thanks for your candid comments. Would love to know what is so confusing or non-intuitive about DeskAway so we could improve upon it if its a genuine change.

    Cheers!
    Sahil

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  6. Excellent analysis of the tools. Thank you for sharing.

    Renita Lovell

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  7. Harshil,
    Thank you for noticing that Wrike was the first to introduce email integration. We’re soon releasing another very important project management feature – an option to add task dependencies. This one will be released with our brand new Enterprise version.

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  8. Email integration is a nice feature, especially for those who want to stay out of their inbox as much as possible. Email can be such a productivity killer, but integrating it into a web-based project management service helps keep the distractive inbox at bay.

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  9. [...] folks at WebWorkerDaily had a chance to catch up with us and we had a great discussion about project collaboration and role [...]

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  10. [...] my constant quest for the ideal project management tool for Web work, I took a look at Joint Contact last month, especially taken with their ideas around using Twitter as part of project management. [...]

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