Wrike is a Software as a Service (SaaS)-based project management solution that can help teams stay connected, communicate, and track project schedules. It can fit into environments with formal project management methodologies or help teams in more ad hoc environments get better organized to run their projects leaner and smarter.
It's an accessible and very usable project management and collaboration application that teams should find flexible enough to accommodate all levels of users. I could also see Wrike scaling up to be an organization- wide project management platform depending on the organization's projects and mission.
DashboardThe Wrike Dashboard (which is available only in Wrike Premium) is a great example of the convergence of project management and collaboration application in Wrike. It's simple and easy to follow, giving managers and team members status information at a glance. The Dashboard publishes overdue tasks, tasks due that day/week, a backlog, and a conflicts monitor. Each authorized Wrike user has a personalized Dashboard view. Figure A shows an example of the Dashboard. Figure A
The Wrike Dashboard is configurable. (Click the image to enlarge.)
While the Dashboard takes advantage of the screen real estate and blends well with the Activity Stream, you do need to refresh the Dashboard to ensure tasks in Wrike show up in their appropriate assignment category.
SaaS project management applications like Wrike have helped make the centralized activity stream a standard for project team communications and collaboration inside a project management application.
The Wrike Activity Stream is a study in detail and usability. It does take up a chunk of screen real estate on the right side of the dashboard, but it provides so many details. You can also view and interact with the Activity Stream full screen.
In fact, I had to take a step back to appreciate the Activity Stream features, including:
- Create and manage tasks with the capability to view additional details and comment;
- View conversation threads;
- Ability to follow important conversations and tasks; and
- Attach files from your local PC, Google Drive, or Dropbox.
Wrike Activity Stream. (Click the image to enlarge.)
Wrike is based upon folders that you can set up for projects or another organizational schema of your choice. My one nitpick is that the buttons to change views are very small, and it's easy to miss them if you or your coworkers barrel through a web page or have poor eyesight. However, the views do an excellent job of democratizing project management information, which helps ensure all team members get a view over project status that they can understand.Figure C shows the List view for Wrike Folders that greets you when you click on folders. Figure C
Wrike Folders. (Click the image to enlarge.)The Table view (Figure D) lets you expand and retract major headings. Figure D
Table view (Click the image to enlarge.)The Timeline view (Figure E) should be comfortable and familiar to those seeking a Gantt chart like view. Figure E
Timeline view. (Click the image to enlarge.)The Workload view (Figure F) helps give you an idea of how the project workload is distributed across the team. The slider on the right side of the Workload view enables you to zoom in to the view more project workload details (down to the hours within a day). It's a nice touch, but to use it to its fullest potential you need to be generous with project details when creating and managing tasks. Figure F
Workload view. (Click the image to enlarge.)
Wrike also lets you run reports of all active, deferred, cancelled, and completed tasks by user. These reports can help any team member stay on track.
Import/export project dataI tested out the Microsoft Project import feature. For my test, I saved off a populated Microsoft Project file (*.mpp) from Microsoft Project Professional 2013 to the desktop of one of my test PCs. From there, I followed the import procedure in Wrike, including setting up user mapping, and was impressed with the results. Figure G shows the results of the Project file I imported into Wrike. Figure G
Project data imported from Microsoft Project into Wrike. (Click the image to enlarge.)
For the exporting of data, Wrike offers three options: iCal, RSS, Excel. When you export to Excel, Wrike enables you to export all tasks or just filtered tasks.
I was pleased with my testing of the import and export features, though no import or export of data is perfect. Your mileage may vary when importing and exporting project data with Wrike.
One of the forgotten elements of SaaS project management platforms is user administration. Wrike keeps user management simple without sacrificing security or requiring laborious administration.
Wrike breaks down user management very simply between Collaborator and User (50 available). Administrative rights can be given to some or all of the users on the project team.Figure H shows an example of the Wrike User Management feature. Figure H
User Management (Click the image to enlarge.)
With its convergence of collaboration and project management backed by an excellent Microsoft Project file import, Wrike epitomizes the flexibility that many of today's project teams need in a SaaS-based project management solution.
Read more about SaaS and the cloud
Check out the ZDNet and TechRepublic special feature Cloud: How to do SaaS right and our downloadable Executive's Guide to Best Practices in SaaS and the Cloud.
Will Kelly is a freelance technical writer and analyst currently focusing on enterprise mobility, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), and the consumerization of IT. He has also written about cloud computing, Big Data, virtualization, project management applications, Google Apps, Microsoft technologies, and online collaboration for TechRepublic and other sites. Will also works as a contract technical writer for clients in the Washington, DC area and nationwide. Follow Will on Twitter: @willkelly.