When you’re working on a project, from a huge project like building a house or starting a new business to a smaller job like making a new website, effective project management is the key to success, particularly if you are working with other people. Collaboration with other people has always been something of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it’s possible to share the load and draw on the talents of different team members, but the major downside is finding an effective means of communicating with your collaborators to convey ideas and give feedback on progress.
ThetaBoard is an online project management tool that can be used to help keep track of how you are progressing through the various tasks that need to be completed for the projects you are working on, exchange messages with the people you are working with, and assign tasks to your co-workers. Online project managers are hardly a unique category, but ThetaBoard has a unique twist that might make it the simple tool you need if you’ve found project management apps too difficult to use.
To start with, it feels as though ThetaBoard is throwing you in at the deep end, as there appears to be little guidance about how you should go about getting things set up. There is a sample board for you to explore, and while this helps you to see how ThetaBoard is set out and provides something of an overview of what can be done with the service, you’re left to work things out for yourself – that’s not to say that this is a complex site to use, but a small degree of hand-holding would have been welcome.
When you head over to the Boards section, there is an online wizard that can help you to get up and running, and by answering a series of simple questions – should boards be labelled? Should comments be enabled? – you can let ThetaBoard help you automatically setup the service the way you want. But, you can also just create a basic board and then configure these options afterwards.
There is nothing to stop you from using ThetaBoard on your own. It could be viewed as a to-do list on steroids so you could use it for personal list management, but it really comes into its own when used in conjunction with other people on collaborative projects. However, you are able to adjust the visibility of individual boards, so you could have some boards that are private and others that are accessible by others. That way, you could use it to manage your own private projects along with those you’re working on with others.
But ThetaBoard has really been designed for working on projects with other people. In this way you can not only keep track of what you have done and still have to do, but you can also keep an eye on the progress of other team members. It’s worth noting that the invitation process could take a little while – an invite has to be send out to the potential collaborator who then has to respond before confirming their email address – so it’s a good idea to invite people as soon as possible when trying it out.
Workspaces, or boards, are divided into three columns by default – To Do, In Progress and Complete – but you can easily add another built in columns called Backlog. Of course, you’re also able to add columns of your own that reflect the way you work. That way, you can tweak it to work just like you want.
Within each column, you can add cards that can be labelled, and there is also the option of creating checklists and adding comments. If you’re collaborating with people you do not physically meet up with all that often, this is a great way to keep in touch, and in larger groups it helps to keep everyone that is involved in the loop. One nice thing is how you can see the task and comments right from the home screen, and can make change to it without having to dive deeper into individual tasks.
As items are completed, you can archive them to help reduce clutter, but in the case of checklists you can tick off entries as you deal with them. Cards can be moved between columns – progressing from To Do to In Progress to Complete – by simply dragging and dropping, and the same technique can be used to assign a particular task to a user; just drag their avatar from the right to the relevant card. It’s an interesting way to keep everything together in one app.
Keeping Your Team Working
Price can be a major problem in getting your team on board with any project management app. With ThetaBoard, there are four different levels of service available, starting off with the free personal account – this has no cost associated with it and can be used to share board with one other person. If you are planning on collaborating with more people you will need to take a look at one of the premium accounts which will enables you to work with 5, 15 and 50 people for $9, $24 and $49 respectively.
The free version of the service is certainly worth investigating; it’s ideal for personal and family projects, and could even be suitable for some small businesses. If you’re projects are fairly simple and you are not too demanding, it might be worth considering one of the paid-for packages if you have a larger group of people working on a project, but it is somewhat expensive for what it is.
There are other more advanced tools available, but this is not what ThetaBoard is trying to compete with. There are instances in which its simple approach and basic set of tools would be useful for larger groups of people, but it is the free and lowest cost package that is the most appealing. If your needs are greater than this, you’re probably going to want more fine-grained control over user accounts and will have to look elsewhere anyway.