Saturday, April 05, 2008


I recently decided to investigate different project management/collaboration tools. The last time I did this was a couple of years ago and I was surprised how many different ones are available. After spending countless hours researching which would be the best one for what I needed, I ended up settling on CentralDesktop. Here's why:

  • Having read the company's blog and forum, I know the people behind the company are passionate in what they do. That is a huge plus. Having read what I did I know that this is about more than just money but creating a really great product.
  • CD differentiates between internal and external users. This is a plus because for many upcoming projects, we'll be bringing people in on a short-term basis and giving limited access to only a specific project they are involved with is crucial. Plus, internal staff can access more (read: confidential info pertaining to a project) than what external service providers can.
  • There is version tracking for documents and you can do rollbacks. Although it's not something I am in need of at this minute, it is a feature that will be important as our team is developed.
  • Their storage capacity and upgrading it is billed on a reasonable basis. I was amazed how many service providers in this area are charging huge fees for storage.
  • You can have private or public workspaces.

CentralDesktop uses slightly different terminology than other services. For example, you set up workspaces rather than projects. Workspaces can include a variety of things such as blogs, discussion areas, documents, wikis and of course project tracking.

They allow for a 30 day free trial of a personal workspace - allowing up to 2 users and 2 workspaces. Their normal billing structure is very reasonable for what is included and the number of users. For example, we opted to start with their Company Plan 3 which costs $99 per month. It allows 25 internal users, 250 external users, 25 workspaces and 5 GB of storage space. Since they allow you to archive/delete old workspaces, this should carry us for quite a while. The average competitive service I looked at charged around $40/month per user - whether internal or external and had half the storage space. This seemed like a steal comparatively speaking.

On the offside, there is very little documentation right now. There is one long video and several short-ones that deal with specific tasks, but I noticed that several items have been changed since the videos were made. From reading the forum it seems that providing better documentation is something they are working on.

The lack of documentation hasn't been a huge problem for 3 reasons: The system is pretty easy to use. Their email support has been very fast. There is also an active and well-supported forum. Most of the questions I had I found the answers to by looking through the forum. It still would be nice if one of their higher level staff could actually sit down for a half a day and make some additional videos on applications of the different features. I'm sure this would increase their client retention rate because I know that most people wouldn't have a clue about what some of the features can be used for.

If/when I have some time I'll share some comments in the future on other tools I looked at.