Since starting this blog over a year ago I've been sharing my adventures about switching from Windows to Mac and thrown in a couple of stories about starting up a business. When I left the company I founded in late 2007 (after selling it in 2006) my intention was to take a little time off and then plunge into my next business venture, this blog quickly becoming a way for me to escape working 16 hours a day. Now that the new business is ready to go I would like to tell you about SharedStatus.
First Some Background
In virtually every company I have worked in I have had to conduct or contribute to status meetings. The problem with status meetings is that they can be very inefficient. Since most people manage their personal task lists in their own way they often wait until the last minute before the status meeting to quickly slam together what they have been working on.
In setting out to address this problem I discovered that there were other corollary problems that people experienced. Tasks that were assigned to people in some of those very status meetings were sometimes not being done because the person assigned didn’t realize it was being assigned to them. Other times a critical issue would be revealed in a status meeting that could have been more easily addressed earlier but the issue got lost in a tidal wave of e-mails. Collaboration between team members depended on a long thread of e-mails that sometimes didn’t include the very people that needed to be working on the issue.
The more I dug in to business process issues the more I saw that people tried addressing these challenges but that the tools were often not designed to solve such simple challenges. Project Management systems were plentiful but often were far to complex for basic needs. Other systems—like Lotus Notes and Sharepoint—went far down the path to helping solve these problems but required a large IT commitment and huge expense to make it all work.
I felt strongly that there was an opportunity to create a solution that was incredibly easy to use and focused on the core issue: tracking tasks, collaborating with others about those tasks and quickly generating status reports. I wanted to produce a product that was priced in such a way that small businesses could easily afford it and that as it scaled up within a company the costs didn’t get outrageous. Finally, I wanted to handle this as a web-based SaaS product, so it wouldn’t require a big IT involvement in order to get it up and running and anyone with a web browser would be able to use it.
The solution I came up with is called SharedStatus. The primary focus of this tool is to give managers, project leads and team members a simple, lightweight framework for capturing tasks that need to get done, collaborating with others on performing those tasks and quickly generating status reports for team and project meetings.
In SharedStatus most everything revolves around the concept of a task. You can create a task for yourself, view it in your dashboard or in a status report and mark it as complete when you are done. With multiple people in your account you can begin to see the advantage of SharedStatus because you can take any task you create and assign it to another member of your account. That person can either accept or decline the task; once accepted you can view and comment on the task—much like people can view and comment on a blog post—adding information or details that both people (task owner and assignee) can see.
A task can also be associated with a project, which opens other collaboration capabilities. Every member of a project can see all of the tasks that are associated with that project and make comments on them, providing an easy way for project members to help one another with tasks and eliminate the huge threads of e-mail that tend to get generated during the course of a project.
Finally, SharedStatus can optionally support the concept of a supervisor, allowing a manager to quickly see each of their direct reports and the tasks they have assigned to them. Their Dashboard is updated to show each of their direct reports and any critical tasks that they may be working on.
At the heart of SharedStatus is a notification system which each user can customize. They can be notified by e-mail or SMS message when a task they own is changed, accepted, commented on, etc. Users don’t have to keep SharedStatus up and running in a browser all day to have it help them.
Status reports are also a central theme to SharedStatus and can be accessed quickly from a user’s Dashboard, generating a list of the tasks that have been recently completed and a list of tasks that are due in the next time frame.
That in a nutshell is SharedStatus.
If you work in an environment where you need to manage a team of people and would like a simple, light-weight solution for keeping your team on the same page and quickly generating status reports I would appreciate you checking out SharedStatus or letting others in your network know about it. I have priced SharedStatus to be extremely affordable; it is only $2 / month per user ($20 / month minimum) and includes a 2 month unlimited user free trial.
You can get started with SharedStatus right now by going to www.sharedstatus.com.