Working in large teams creates all kinds of problems. Communication lines are stretched, working relationships are difficult to form and the customer suffers as a result.
Fuseboard is a new team productivity app. Based online, the platform uses social media inspired tools to foster better communication among team members. It also has a range of features for delegating work, discussing files and dealing with customer queries.
Essentially, Fuseboard is aiming to replace internal email as the primary company communication tool. It has an interface that’s familiar to the social media generation and some really innovative business features. They’ve definitely come up with something worth trying. But, will it work for your team or company?
An Overview of Fuseboard
To start off, every employee has a profile similar to a Facebook account. Workers can interact with one another via a news feed and comment system not too dissimilar from mainstream social media sites. For a super quick start, managers can import contact lists from Google or any organiser that supports CSV contact lists, such as Microsoft Outlook.
Signing into Fuseboard brings you to your news feed. It’s a multi-tab interface used for filtering different kind of conversations and team updates. The main tab is the Workspace; this acts as a consolidated feed of updates and comments from every conversation you’re involved in across the network. I found the newsfeed to be a great alternative for the dreaded Monday morning email sludge pile.
From here, you can get more specific. Deals, Projects, Spaces and Tickets are all similar to one another but are kept separate for easier categorization. They all have similar features such as the ability to upload documents, attach Google Drive and Dropbox files, assign tasks to other team members and discuss issues.
Some unique features for each include project status reports , customer support tickets and win/loss analysis concerning potential deals or external contracts. A feature which isn’t present is each issue or conversation having its own dedicated email address, to enable easier communication with outside parties or staff away from their PC. How cool would it be for every customer support ticket to have a dedicated conversational email thread? Fuseboard say this feature is coming soon, however.
Fuseboard has some cool analytical features too. Project reports offer a brilliantly illustrated view of where a project stands. For example, under the Deals section, users can access analysis of all active company deals with clients underway and gauge their financial worth and risk profile.
Individual staff members and teams can be invited to join a conversation, even if it’s outside their department. This would greatly break down bureaucratic barriers which exist in many organisations. Take, for example, a customer service ticket which requires input from an IT consultant. By email, this could take days to get a response, particularly if following an organisational hierarchy of contacting their managers, to reach the consultant. This informal and social approach to contacting other members of the organisation could result in a dramatic reduction in the amount of time it takes to respond to queries.
Fuseboard also have developed a nifty Chrome extension for rapidly posting things to your feed such as web pages, team updates and documents.
Fuseboard Looks Great
As any IT project manager will know, the biggest problem for companies concerning new systems isn’t the building or implementation — it’s getting staff to actually use them. Fuseboard have gone for a simple, conservative design, which mirrors the basic communicative function and layout of a Facebook group. By sticking to what’s safe, this app sails over one its biggest hurdles.
Throughout the website, icons and illustrations are used; they can only be described as beautifully designed. The light grey fonts and graphics used in the above screenshot make for a clean, minimalist interface that’s easy to read and a joy to use. In keeping with the ‘social’ theme, each user uploads a profile picture which is displayed as a cropped circle, next to any comment or update they post.
We were doing so well, Fuseboard and I, until the bill arrived. $20, per month, per user. Ouch! After the initial 30 day trial, that was enough to bring the honeymoon period to a sudden end.
As a web app targeting the business community, Fuseboard has the potential for some large clients. Unfortunately, they offer no scale of economies type discounts for large amounts of user numbers. This effectively prices both small teams (5-6) and large teams (30-50) out of the market. Other platforms, of a lesser quality, offer better value for money.
Fuseboard is an awesome social project management tool. It’s attractive to staff and has the familiarity of a social media network. It also integrates well with existing office software, such as Google Apps, Outlook and Harvest Time Tracking. Fuseboard’s price plan sucks, but for those who can afford it, the added productivity and increased customer service features could very well be worth it. The 30 day free trial comes with no obligation or need for credit card information, so it’s most certainly worth a try.
Fuseboard is a social media inspired project management tool. It combines the best of both worlds to allow companies to freely communicate both internally, and with customers.7
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