Can rule.fm Streamline Your Business?

Are you tired of using a half-dozen different apps to manage your business in the cloud? Everyday it seems like there’s a new app released designed to help deal with a small aspect of your business, such as CRM or internal messaging, but with so many disparate apps it’s easy to forget what you’ve saved where. Plus, it can be expensive paying for so many different apps.

rule.fm aims at bringing some order to the confusion and make it easier to manage your business and, most importantly, get back to work. Its founders set out to bring style and simplicity to online project management and designed it to include all the tools you need to efficiently keep track of every part of your business. rule.fm already offers an impressive number of tools, with more planned to be added before its released from beta.

Today we’ll look at what rule.fm has to offer your business and see if it’s got what it takes to beat Basecamp and the thousands of other project management apps out there.

Getting Started

Ready to get started? Head over to rule.fm and create a new, free account. rule.fm is currently in beta, and you can use all of its features for free for the time being. Once it’s fully released, you’ll need to select a plan that fits your usage or downscale your usage to fit the free plan. Signup only takes a few seconds and doesn’t require much info. Make sure to pick a domain you want to stick with as you can’t change it once your account’s created.

Signup for a free beta rule.fm account

Signup for a free beta rule.fm account

As soon as you’ve completed signup, you’ll be ready to start managing your company in rule.fm. The app is very nicely designed with a modern style and color scheme. Like many collaboration apps, rule.fm is built around a central stream that lets you quickly see what’s happening across the entire account, so you’ll see the Stream page first when you login.

Seconds after signing up, you're ready to get to work

Seconds after signing up, you're ready to get to work

Features & Usage

rule.fm includes a toolbar across the top of the entire suite that gives you quick access to each of the major features, including contacts, projects, messages and more.

Access all of rule.fm's features quickly from the toolbar

Access all of rule.fm's features quickly from the toolbar

You can also access common tasks quickly from the plus button on the far right of the toolbar.

The main toolbar buttons takes you to the full page app interfaces for those tools but the quick tasks open in a small popover box so you can quickly add a new user or post to the stream without navigating through several pages. We found this to be very handy and it made it much quicker to use than many other project management apps.

Quickly finish common tasks without switching pages

Quickly finish common tasks without switching pages

Now that you’re used to the interface, let’s look at each of the major features included in rule.fm and see how it all works together.

Projects

rule.fm makes it easy to organize all of the tasks, documents, milestones and discussions related to a project while still keeping everything easy to find. You can quickly access all of your projects from the top Project button, which will give you a quick overview of each project.

Create new projects for everything you're doing

Create new projects for everything you're doing

Once you dive into a project, you’ll be able to see everything that’s going on in the project—mark tasks and milestones as complete directly or comment and view more info on each. Or, from the left menu, you can view all of the available tasks from all projects, which makes it easy to see what needs to be accomplished across all of your company’s ongoing projects. rule.fm does a great job at reducing the number of different pages you need to go to and each view lets you accomplish a lot.

Tasks, milestones, discussions, and more, all ready to use together

Tasks, milestones, discussions, and more, all ready to use together

You won’t need to setup a new discussion board or email list to keep everyone informed about a project; rule.fm lets you discuss a project directly with threaded conversations. You can see the discussion about each project from its tab or you can see all the ongoing discussions and other activity from the main stream.

Stay focused with project discussion

Stay focused with project discussion

Contacts

rule.fm includes a nice contact manager for your entire company. You’ll automatically see contact info for everyone you’ve added to your account and can also add contact info for clients and companies you work with. Contacts can be organized into groups and each contact’s info can include their social media accounts as well as their traditional contact info.

The contacts feature feels somewhat unfinished right now—you can’t edit existing contacts other than your own personal profile and social media accounts and email address are plain text instead of links. Since rule.fm is still working on the CRM features, these features will likely be updated with more functionality over time.

View everything related to each of your contacts

View everything related to each of your contacts

Documents & Files

Have you ever struggled to keep all of the images and documents for your projects in one place? rule.fm lets you quickly add a wide variety of files to your account. Files can be saved to an individual project’s folder or you can save files that everyone commonly needs in main folders that can always be accessed. Most files worked great, though we were unable to upload any files with more than 3 character extensions including newer Microsoft Office files—a relatively serious inadequacy.

Add files to projects or your general account quickly

Add files to projects or your general account quickly

You can then view info about documents that’ve been added or even upload newer versions of files. It’ll maintain a full history of your files, so you can download older versions of files or view discussion about them.

Get info on documents or add new versions

Get info on documents or add new versions

The Stream

As your project progresses, you’ll be able to keep track of everything that’s going on from the main stream. Every new file, task, milestone and more, that’s added or changed will show up on the stream. This lets you quickly comment on what others are doing and helps you stay on top of projects.

You can also let others know what you’re doing and keep the conversation flowing like you would on Facebook or business communication tools like Yammer.

You can also add formatted text to stream posts, including lists, links, and more.

See what's going on across your company from the stream

See what's going on across your company from the stream

Get notified whenever changes are made

Get notified whenever changes are made

No matter what part of the app you’re using, you’ll be able to quickly see if important changes have been made from the notifications in the bottom right corner. Of course you can also update what you’re doing from the plus button on the top to notify others—making it easy to keep everyone informed.

Coming Soon

As mentioned before, rule.fm isn’t finished and there are currently several more major features planned. These include a CRM system that will take your contacts list and give you insight on deal flows and a money tool to keep track of leads and balance sheets with a full accounting system. You’ll see buttons hidden for these on the top toolbar and once they’re live you’ll be able to access them directly in your current account.

Additionally, rule.fm is planning to offer a mobile optimized webapp and native iOS app to make it easy to manage your business on the go. Once everything’s together, you’ll have less need than ever for other business management apps.

More features are coming soon, including a CRM and accounting system

More features are coming soon, including a CRM and accounting system

Design and Usability

Most project management apps are simple and utilitarian, with only minimal design touches. rule.fm goes well beyond this with a beautifully designed interface. It feels more like a Mac app than a standard webapp, with live search and popup input boxes that make it quick at accomplishing what you need without switching between a dozen pages. Plus, it teaches you how to use it with simple arrows and descriptions leading you through new tasks.

Small touches such as the arrow showing where to add a new contact make rule.fm easy to use

Small touches such as the arrow showing where to add a new contact make rule.fm easy to use

Conclusion

Project management apps are becoming increasingly prevalent each and every day, and there are hundreds of webapps vying to be the best way to manage your business. rule.fm is a surprising new competitor that’s bringing some nice new integration and style to project management. It works great, keeps up with almost everything you need, and is currently free. Give it a try and let us know what you think in the comments. We think that this webapp has a solid chance of being one of the more popular project management apps in the future.


Summary

Rule.fm is a project management webapp that aims to bring all of your business together in one beautifully designed app. Rather than managing your contacts, finances, projects, and messages in separate apps, keep up with everything together and simplify your business.

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  • I’ve been using rule.fm for the last week with a team that consists of me and about 3 others. It has been our best solution so far, we use Git alongside it though..

  • I hope it doesn’t get too expensive when it’s Gold

  • Hmm, looks promising…

    I’ve been a huge fan of http://www.projecturf.com which will be featured with an invoicing module very soon, but rule.fm might be a great competitor!

    • Just tried rule.fm for a while, but for me it doesn’t feel as intuitive as projecturf does. However, rule.fm might become a competitive player in this market.

  • I think it is a big mistake committing to a web app without knowing in advance what’s its’ price is going to be once it leaves beta. I should be able to trust the company with my sensitive data and I don’t trust a company which is not upfront.

    Especially, when there’s plenty of fish out there.

  • I would love an self hosted version, like activeCollab.

  • The service is pretty awesome, but I don’t think it can be useful for issue tracking(my case), just like BontQ or FogBugz are…

  • Rule.fm is frustrating. Looks cool…but I can even find the login to get started. Who forgets the login? It’s the most crucial part to get started! I have to go my to my email to find the link and bookmark it. They should be a link to the login page.

    • When you sign up for a Rule account you create a custom URL (yourcompanyname.rule.fm). You should have received a confirmation email to direct you to your custom URL immediately after creating an account. Additionally, we are releasing the ability to login to multiple rule accounts and will include login from both your custom URL as well as http://rule.fm. With this update you will also be able to switch accounts without having to login more than once. I hope this helps and thanks for checking out Rule.

      Cheers,

      +P