Pretty much every web worker I know has a way to track tasks. These various solutions, whether web, client-side, or paper, are great for keeping yourself on track. But what if you need to manage coordinated activities for a distributed team? For example, a software bug might flow from the reporter to a developer to a QA person back to the original reporter. Do you need to transfer the information between three different task trackers?
WorkflowPerfect has an answer to that question: of course you don’t. Instead, you can use their free, multiuser, web-based business process tool to create and manage all the multiuser workflows you need. Its tools allow you to both build and manage workflows – coordinated sets of tasks that get handed off between team members and updated with custom forms.
The first step with using WorkflowPerfect is to define your workflows. This is a potentially time-consuming process, but you can save a partial workflow at any time and come back to it later. You need to set up the steps, define the possible outcomes, and show the connections between them. For example, a sales workflow might include picking a product from a warehouse, with outcomes of “picked” going to a ship step and “out of stock” going to a notification step. You then create custom forms that prompt for the necessary information – for example, in this case you might want to track an order number.
After you’ve defined and approved a workflow for use, you can add users (up to 100) to your account, and define who can use each workflow. Then you’re off: create a new item, fill in the information, pick outcomes and assign the task to the next person down the line. The system automatically sends email notifications when you get a new workflow item assigned to you, or when an item you created moves on to the next step.
There are other refinements here too. You can define a user group (perhaps “developers” or “salespeople”) and assign things to a group, where they can be picked up by anyone in that group. You can attach files to a workflow, and they flow along from user to user. You can view the history of a work item and use a search interface to find things.
All in all, this is an impressively flexible tool – and a free one to boot. If you’re having trouble coordinating the activities of a distributed team, it’s definitely worth checking out.