Collanos Workplace: Free Team Collaboration Software

picture-61In a rare change of pace, this piece will deal with software you actually download and install on your computer, instead of a web or cloud-based solution. The tool is Collanos Workplace, and it allows you to set up different Workplaces (note the key difference in spelling there) for different projects, and to collaborate with other Collanos users you specify.

Collanos Workplace is designed as a lightweight, cross-platform project management tool. It doesn’t have the level of detail or scalability of a server-based, enterprise solution, nor is it meant to. Instead, Workplace is aimed at helping small teams manage smaller projects. There are versions available for Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux, so you shouldn’t have any hardware barriers preventing team members from getting the software up and running.

Once you’ve installed Workplace, you can opt to go through a quick start Workspace setup process upon launch. Additionally, the program provides you with a sample Workspace so that you have a rudimentary example to work from when building your own.

picture-24One thing you’ll notice right away about the setup process is that group members have to be online in order for you to be able to invite them to join, which could prove annoying. Later on, you can send emails and people can join at their leisure, but not during the initial setup for some reason.

If you happen to be working with a small enough crowd, and with people you know, the invitation process shouldn’t prove too much of an obstacle. Once invitees are accepted, they can access the Workspace any time from their own client, whether or not you’re online.

picture-25One you have a group, you can set tasks and assign them to specific individuals. You can also access the project’s directory structure, where you can upload files, create sub-folders, access files others have added, etc. Like in an email client, items in the project directory are marked as either read or unread.

picture-31You can also switch to Timeline View, where Workplace generates a Gantt chart of your project activity, including folder history and task status, start, and completion dates. Double-clicking on a task in Timeline View brings up that tasks information and settings box, so you can make changes if you wish.

During my test run with Collanos Workplace, I didn’t run into any big problems, although I did have to Force Quit at one point when the software stopped responding while I was adding new members to the group. Overall, though, the program seems like a useful and easy way to manage small professional or personal projects without incurring the significant time or cost associated with most enterprise-targeted solutions, or even MS Project for that matter. Perfect for coralling a rowdy and disobedient bunch of bloggers, for instance, which is just what I intend to use it for.

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