I had a chance to catch up with the folks at Producteev this week, the team task management tool from Jive, and they showed me their new iPad app, as well as walking me through the new Outlook integration. Producteev is one of the leading task management solutions, certainly in the top tier of offerings, and these new announcements simply show Producteev is getting more mature all the time.
We also had a chance to discuss the Producteev Pro offering for enterprises. One aspect of that is Microsoft Outlook integration — expanded discussion below — as well as the capability to fully customize the Producteev experience by adding company logos and other theme options.
Producteev is now available on iPad and iPhone, Mac OS X, web browser, and Android.
There are several aspects of Producteev’s Outlook integration that are compelling.
First off, it’s not a Chrome-plug-in-style loose integration. Outlook effectively is a Producteev client, with full fidelity, so users are able to create and access tasks, edit them, assign them, and so on. This requires Windows for Office 2007, 2010 or 2013, as well as signing up for Producteev Pro, which runs $99/month for up to 100 users.
Secondly, emails can be ‘converted’ to tasks with a single click. I use the quotes because the email isn’t converted, it’s used as the starting point for a new task, where the email subject line is mapped to the task title, and the text of the email is embedded in the note field.
A more unusual sort of email integration is also supported: tasks embedded in email. Imagine creating action items during a meeting in the form of embedded tasks, which could be assigned to attendees, due dates set, and then mailed out to all attendees, as well.
Lastly, Producteev has advanced the state of the art by a new sort of calendar integration. Producteev’s task list can be brought up to the side of the Outlook calendar, and dragging a task on the calendar leads to time being allocated in the calendar so that people can actually schedule time to work on the task. Ilan Abehassera, the founder of Producteev and senior director of product management at Jive, pointed out that in their research they had found that a lot of tasks become overdue because people never scheduled time to work on them. This new feature is intended to make it simpler for users to do that.
This problem is a large one. As Mike Monteiro at Mule Design put it,
Most people don’t schedule their work. They schedule the interruptions that prevent their work from happening. In the case of a business like ours, what clients pay us to make and do happens in the cracks between meetings, or worse, after business hours.
I am eager to see Producteev and other vendors consider this sort of functionality (like Asana, who recently released a calendar view — see Asana adds calendar visualization). Although, what I would like to see is a link to those calendar events in the task, something Producteev has not yet implemented.
This capability — helping people to actually schedule time for the tasks they need to accomplish — would meld well with a regime like the 1-3-5 technique I try to use. For example, at the start of each day, I look at my calendar and things I need to work on, and I pick one as the 1 big thing for today. That might be allocating a few hours to work on a research project, or a two hour meeting with a client. I also allocate 3 (or less) 45 minutes-1 hour length chunks of time, and 5 (or less) short tasks (less than 45 mins, like short calls, travel arrangements, reading the paper, email). But currently I only put the longest things on the calendar, so the time isn’t actually carved out for the lesser things, and some, like reading and writing email, never get written down as a task at all.
The Bottom Line
Producteev has a killer advantage with its Outlook integration. With a market of 400 million Outlook users out there, they are in a great spot with basically no competition, at least not with this degree of integration.
I hope that they will develop a similar level of integration for Google email and calendar, and that they inspire others with the calendar scheduling functionality they’ve pioneered.
And they told me that their integration with Box will be rolling out next week. They are very busy over at Producteev.