10,000ft: Project Management for the Creative Worker

Many businesses today, perhaps web-based businesses especially, are changing from the traditional company structure. By allowing their employees to be more autonomous and having a less-sharply defined chain of authority, work can proceed with less interruption and without the need for consulting superiors on every decision.

10,000ft is a project manager designed to cater to the specific needs of companies using this new management structure. It’s beautifully designed and packed full of features. Let’s have a look at them…

The experience

10,000ft has a user interface somewhat reminiscent of a social networking website and it makes a lot of sense. Instead of spending half a day getting used to it and working out how to accomplish various tasks, your first guess on where something is will usually be right. Every user has their own profile page which they’re taken to on logging in. Profile pages contain contact details, current status (limited to a work-relevant selection including ‘In The Office’ and ‘On Vacation’), projects assigned to that employee and how many hours they have allotted to those projects. On their own profile pages, employees can log hours simply, making timesheets very simple.

A screenshot of a sample timesheet from 10,000ft

Users can edit hours allotted to each project when necessary, then confirm the hours worked each day

Projects also have their own pages. These show all the necessary details – who is working on them, for how long and when, when the project was started and its projected finish date, the client to whom the project belongs (if appropriate), and a status report on the project. This is perhaps the most interesting part, and can fulfil one of two functions. A project’s status can be reported in either days incurred or budget incurred. The former is the total number of man-days associated with the project. The latter is based on the billing rates of those assigned to the project, allowing you to see what is on budget, under budget and over budget at a glance.

(And on that note: billing rates can be set manually for each user. They can also be set for all employees of a certain department and/or role in the main settings. 10,000ft has a great little matrix of billing rates that makes entering this data an absolute breeze.)

Scheduling and more

Obviously, the most important part of any project management app is the project management aspect – being able to schedule work on projects effectively and easily. 10,000ft’s scheduling tool has taken a few notes out of the book on design for touch interface – time is assigned by dragging sliders around and context menus are brought up with a click of the mouse (or tap). It’s able to handle pretty complicated scheduling quite easily. The screenshot below shows a schedule I mocked up for three people. As you can see, the first and last people have very simple schedules, but the poor guy in the middle (me, actually) has his time split between a few projects.

A screenshot of the scheduling feature of 10,000ft

The scheduling module is capable of complicated scheduling

The app allows you to set allocation in percentage and gives you a nice red warning bar if you try and overwork someone. You can also change the allocation method to hours per day or week in settings.

A screenshot of an over-scheduling problem and the context menu on 10,000ft

10,000ft clearly shows where employees have been over-scheduled, and the context menu makes this very easy to fix

One of the really interesting features of 10,000ft is its analytics section. Here, you can perform analysis on employee performance and project progress. 10,000ft comes with a few built in reports (such as ‘What is the progress of active projects?’ and ‘Who has unconfirmed time this week?’), and provides tools for creating your own reports. These tools are extremely powerful, though a little overwhelming at first. Perhaps a wizard is in order (hint hint).

A screenshot of a sample report from 10,000ft's analytics section

A snippet of the readout from 10,000ft's built-in report on weekly forecast project hours

What doesn’t it do?

I’ve been playing with 10,000ft for a few days now, and one thought keeps recurring: “Oh, it does that too!” The app has an amazingly broad feature set. Chances are, the feature you want is there. The developers have evidently spent a lot of time polishing and filling out 10,000ft, determined to release a finished, mature product. This is especially evident when browsing the settings. Almost every feature can be tweaked to perfectly fit your company. Want to add official holidays to be taken into account in your scheduling? Sure thing! Set multiple office locations to be able to see physical location on employees pages? Of course you can. Prefer your employees’ time to be tracked in hours and minutes itemised by individual tasks? No problem!

Areas for improvement

I do have a couple of minor gripes with 10,000ft, but they really are minor. Firstly, some things can be a little tricky to see or read because of the colour scheme. It’s not that hard though, and it becomes a lot easier after five or ten minutes of use. Hopefully, though, the developers will tweak this a little in the future. My second, and final, thing to change cropped up during the signup process. 10,000ft asked me to write a list of people and projects I wanted adding from the get-go. They did explain that it was optional, and that I could do it later, but I thought “Why not?” and went ahead with it. The trouble is, the only data it asked for was names, so I ended up having to go back and edit all the users and projects I created individually to add the rest of the details. This, of course, made the efficiency of adding some employees and projects in the signup process redundant. Still, it’s not a major problem by any means, just don’t use it!

Final thoughts

Overall, 10,000ft is one of the best web apps I’ve ever had the pleasure of using. It’s incredibly versatile and customisable. It has a clear purpose in mind, and delivers everything you need to be able to fulfil its purpose. What more could you really ask for? Reasonable pricing? Sorry, 10,000ft already has that one covered. It starts at $49/month for up to 10 users which, for its power and ease of use, is incredibly reasonable in my opinion.

I really believe that 10,000ft is going to become a very successful web app. If you’ve been looking for a project management solution for your company, 10,000ft should be at the top of your list of contenders. I suggest you take them up on their offer of a 30 free trial and see if you feel as strongly as I do about it.


Summary

A project management web app for the creative worker.

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