Convos: Online Communication for Groups

CONVOS-logoEveryone has a different way of doing things. Fortunately, there’s a huge number of web services that offer groups different ways to coordinate their activities. Convos occupies a middle ground between basic group communication systems like listservs and Google Groups, and full-fledged project management apps.

As with classic email lists, Convos allows group members to send and reply to messages via email. But Convos has a larger feature set than standard email groups, including:

  • convos-desktopA web interface where members can see and update what the group is working on. This password-protected, advertising-free web site includes panes to compose and display messages, upload files, manage tasks and schedules, and create and view on-screen pages. The interface has a custom URL like “group_name.convos.com” to which you can add your own logo.
  • A system for creating and getting RSVPs for events.
  • A system for posting comments and questions (which can be anonymous if desired).
  • The ability to add subgroups, which could be useful for organizations with a committee structure.

But although Convos has a task module, it isn’t really a project management system: Its content is not organized by projects. If you need to manage projects, you’ll notice what Convos doesn’t have:

  • The ability to group tasks together as part of larger milestones.
  • The ability to assign tasks to specific members.
  • Project management features, like Gantt charts.

Convos also doesn’t have any Twitter-like microblogging status updates. The Convos web interface looks a bit like a simplified version of Peago, which I recently reviewed. And it has many of the same limitations: It’s Flash-based, built in Flex and Silverlight, which means it’s not suited for corporate environments that limit Flash, or for mobile devices. Convos also shares with Peago a navigation structure that can be confusing; you can simplify the display by turning panes on and off, but the interface can get pretty crowded unless you’re using full-screen mode in a large monitor.

Convos has several pricing plans, ranging from a free version that allows five group members and 50MB of storage for files, to the $100 per month “Large” plan that allows 4GB of storage for unlimited members and subgroups.

Convos bills itself as “professional online groups.” If you need more than something like a Google Group can offer, and don’t mind the limitations of a Flash-based interface, then Convos may be for you. But if you need to manage projects, you’ll probably be better off with a full-featured project management system.

Have you used Convos? How do you communicate with groups?

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