Tuesday, May 21, 2013

askcow - Basecamp killer is on the way

Meet askcow - cutting-edge groupware for agile management.

If someone would try to count existing project management services, he would hardly finish this task in an hour. But only few of listed services are good enough and up-to-date - technology develops very fast, and a product, which was perfect few years ago now becomes obsolete.
We want to tell you a story about cutting-edge project management tool for online collaboration, which turned a task management into pleasant and, it matters, controllable process.
The story is about askcow - the most advanced project management service at the moment - technically and conceptually. 
In order to start working with askcow you should only have a device with an access to Internet and a browser.
This tells askcow from traditional project management tools, Microsoft Project or Oracle Primavera systems, for example, which require an installation on your PC. Software of this type is very advanced, because they were built to support activity of large companies. Though these tools are powerful, disadvantages of such juggernauts of project management are numerous, especially when you apply them in agile teams.

Tools of project management - what's wrong with them?

Average and small companies can not afford these solutions for keeping their business run. High software prices and spendings on support contributes to expenses much, but the most disturbing and time-wasting issue of these tools is their weak usability. Deployment of these sowtware are often accompanied with complaints and hidden resistance from the personnel, who are forced to work into harsh interfaces built by engineers for engineers.
Jelly use cases make people waste time, and the problem starts hurting costs a lot, when time losses concern hundreds of people.
Cheaper solution were soon to follow as client-server services, and this generation of collaboration tools grew up mostly from simple bug-trackers. This generation is numerous and many of them are widely used nowadays. Such services are often handy, agile, but simplicity of their functionality is adjacent to primitivity. Truly monumental JIRA is a nice example of such tool. It seems, that JIRA offers users wide functionality, but at closer examination, you’ll see only a simple bug tracker, overburdened with complex, unnecessary and duplicating modules.
However, the most important drawback of JIRA is that it stores tasks inside flat lists. This makes service inapplicable for managing the complex and lasting projects. If you want to deal with a issue, which have sub-tasks of a different degree of depth, JIRA, alas, won’t go - it has no full-fledged tree of issues. All work inside this tool is being built around to-do lists. By adding issues into a list, you form a schedule for a day, week or month for each department or person, you have to manage. Just imagine, how long these list will be, when someone tries to set tasks for ten people for 5 days!
Information should have a structure, even if you apply agile in your team. The tree turns simple and flat to-do lists into a service of project management, but you can hardly find a sound tool corresponding to these requirements, even the excellent Basecamp doesn’t fit!
Lists, tasks and filters only, instead of tree-like structure.
Giving the credit to the beautiful brainchild of legendary 37Signals studio, we’ll anyway repeat: Basecamp is outdated, even despite its recent modernization. Created in 2004 this services rocked the people’s imagination about convenience of online collaboration, but, alas for Basecamp, to-do lists cannot maintain complex issues. Even a simpler project stored inside a tree can be run easier, especially when you deal with numerous tasks of a same type.

askcow tree of issues: unlimited depth and supersonic performance.

In contrast to JIRA and Basecamp, askcow has been built around a tree. We did it intentionally, following one of the most ancient cosmogonic idea about organization of Universe.
Tree creates a structure keeping the Chaos from prevail over the Order.
That’s why the tree is an askcow basis. Tree allows ordering tasks into semantic blocks, makes task management much faster and easier. For example, instead of closing a dozen of issues one after another, you can just shut down a tree branch, where they’re stored. Anyway, the most wholesome advantage of a tree - is an opportunity to build up your tasks inside the project around clear and understandable structure.
But tree also can also pose a threat to easiness of comprehension.
Projects require involvement of regular executives: designers, coders and cleaners of ion cannons, who don’t interest in details of management. They don’t want to get into a mess with organizational structure of a project, their purpose lies far away from challenging the Chaos, it’s rather an opposite.
All these people need from their tool is a list of task for a day. And here agile easiness of lists shows itself in all splendour. Look, for example, at Remember the Milk!
May this tool is very simple, may this service isn’t very comfortable for collaboration, but you can deal with to-do lists in Remember the Milk very easy. Agile teams often use this tool for collaboration, because of simplicity, but, you know, askcow is easier.

askcow - easier than RemeberTheMilk!

Of course, there are lists of tasks in askcow too, but we carefully elaborated them in order to make these lists clear and fast manageable.
It is you, not a tool, who decides, how to deal with tasks: in a tree, or according to their priority, or in activity log. In a click you can switch between the structure of the project, or its content.
Fast management means, for example, that the most important properties of a task can be changed right in the list. New items appear in these lists without reloading of the screen. Many of project management tools go without this useful features even nowadays, so askcow is much agile than them.
askcow is probably the fastest and most flexible project management tool at the moment, and this fact makes us proud.
So what’s about infinite lists, you may ask? Hundreds of confusing tasks, you don’t understand where they come from, became the nightmare of any manager, who was running a agile team of 10 collaborators at least once.
askcow deals with this complicated issues easily by applying bookmark, integrated into interface so as to make them permanently accessible.
If a list of tasks or a tree, you see inside a blue field is too long, click a bookmark - the list becomes shorter right away.

Command center for wagging the project.

Bookmarks allow you focusing on the most important, and we made handling with this piece of functionality a clear and pleasant case. For example, you can save your recent search as a bookmark, and from now it will be always close at hand.
If you suddenly want to constantly see how commander of a unit of Imperial stormtroopers manages his detachment, the solution is to create special bookmark: click "search" button, select the userpic of this officer in "created by" section, and save your new bookmark. From now you’ll be constantly informed about the activity of this Imperial stormtroopers unit.
By the way, in order to know, what’s going on there, you haven’t open this bookmark at all. Filtering excessive noise isn’t a single purpose for this askcow yellow module, bookmarks also display related activity.
Notification counter instantly shows unread updates without reloading a page of your browser.
A short look is enough in order to see, what’s going on with your project. You instantly understand, how many tasks were created, which of them are important and have to concern you, where new comments and files appeared - all this without surfing through a tree or digging in activity log.
For example, by choosing a bookmark, which displays “starred” tasks and switching to activity log, you’ll receive the most recent and important information in a two clicks, less than in a second.
Bookmarks get you rid of a dull job of following all insignificant updates, allowing you aggregating activity into clear torrents of information. Integrated and elaborated askcow bookmarks make commanders and managers constantly keeping the agile finger on a project.
Ordinary collaborator deals with askcow much simpler. He only has to select “mine” bookmark, switch to “priority list” and start working on issues, his manager set him for today.

Task - askcow substance.

Let’s take a look on typical askcow task.
First, you haven’t switch to special view of askcow or scroll infinite lists to get to issues you’re interesting in. Usually, you can reach any task in your project in a two or three clicks without a search.
Second, you can add information into a task and comments, without being afraid, that askcow will stretch your text into a single line, or a large picture will make buttons sliding into different directions. Your information is always has the same look before and after the "ADD" button is being pressed.
The same is for all controls. Interface has been engineered in order to make all buttons and fields always to have the same place, so you’ll get accustomed to askcow in an half of hour. From this moment, you’ll never pass off to interface, because we carefully considered all use cases.
Third. You can change any feature of your task, no matter, whether it’s a title, or a tree branch, where this task is stored. askcow saves all updates, so anyone can see, what has been altered. You can also compare between the different editions of same task, so your data is securely protected.
You cannot also lose any information from askcow, because nothing can be deleted. If you want to get rid of unnecessary or outdated task, just close it down and this issue will be sent into a separate tree branch. You can anytime restore the closed issue less than in a second.
All changes inside your projects are absolutely transparent and nobody can hide something from his colleagues. It was made intentionally by throwing out from askcow time consuming and annoying settings for bureaucratic micro privileges.
We consciously refused to engineer a monstrous tool of project management, requiring a constant intervention of system administrators. We threw out all annoying restrictions to add a comment or change task status, for example - why do someone has to waste his work time on waiting for a permission on action of tiny importance? A team has to be agile!
The only role for system administrator in askcow is to grant a user an access to branches of the project’s tree in a form of bookmarks. On the one hand, user can do whatever he wants in this part of the tree (except for deleting the information, of course), at other hand, he has no access to restricted areas at all. And there is a reason - why do simple space fighter pilot has to get into a mess with a Galactic Empire management?
No rubbish interaction with micro bureaucracy! We firmly built up the security on the three whales: bookmarks, which restrict access to information on fundamental level, and two principles - “Nothing to delete” and “Nothing to hide”.
One cannot delete anything, but can change it. All changes cannot be concealed. And if someone did anything wrong by mistake or willingly, you notice a problem and restore the correct state of an issue.
But let’s return to our tasks.
Fourth, you can comment tasks and attach to them files of any type. Of course, you haven’t download sound or video samples in order to listen and watch them.
Tasks are askcow substance, a content regulated into a tree. With a help of bookmarks you can surf through your issues faster than Ratatosk mail-squirrel scurries through branches of Yggdrasil.

Integrity, performance, clearness, control.

askcow is beautiful, and the story now is not about brilliant technical solutions, allowed making the navigation inside a tree of unlimited depth faster than anywhere. The story now is about askcow appearance.
We didn’t try to make this tool so handsome, when we started working on it. It is the functionality made askcow so sweetheart: readable information, automatized and optimized use cases, modality and infographical informational structure.
Beautiful planes fly beautiful, you know.
Wrike, for example, flies too, but... But make conclusions by yourself.
All use cases are mechanical. Adding a task or editing it looks similar. Switching between lists of tasks: tree, priority and activity log, takes place in a single click. The same is for filtering these lists - one click only. You can change task properties directly from lists. No need to scroll to “add task” button, it is always accessible. “One click only” is perfect solution for perfect tool.
askcow interface is accurately elaborated so you can focus on activity, not on the tool, because it’s almost impossible to make a mistake during adding or editing an information.
Modes of processing the data in askcow separated from each other, so you always have a clear imagination of what you are currently doing. Infographical interface clearly informs you about the mode you’re currently in. Mankind lost centuries because people forget about pressed Caps Lock often.
Thoroughly considered use cases are also built on the cutting-edge technical solutions. All works very fast. For example, updating an information inside your browser takes place without reloading pages.
But we want to be faster. And we become faster.
For example, in order to make askcowmore productive, we refused to apply widespread standard for transferring data, and invented a new one, more efficient than json. It allows us to save additional split seconds for you.
And it is only the peak of milky iceberg of technical innovations we applied during the building askcow

Holy Grail of agile management.

askcow is agile project management tool of a new generation. Its power allows dealing with projects of almost any complexity, and elaborated scenarios of collaboration makes project management fast and effective.
You can work with askcow through the most widespread browsers - Mozilla, Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari, Opera, on almost all devices, including smartphones and tablets. The service is designed so carefully, that visual block of information change their dimensions according to a screen, and slides with the velocity depending on the performance of your device.
Architecture of askcow and its outer face designed in order to make the service as fast, comfortable and agile as possible, and we succeeded in making askcow almost invisible for people, who work with it.
We found our Grail of project management, and its your turn to empty it in rejoining the happiness of acquisition of a sacred treasure of comfortable collaboration - askcow.
Register your free askcow account at http://askcow.org/ and start enjoying the ultimate tool for agile project management.

1 comment:

  1. More and more companies are trying to get nimble to enable them to respond to change with agility. Over the years, there has been a clear shift in momentum about the ways how companies manage projects. So, the project manager should be a PMP certified, who can better handle the planning, execution, and closing of any project. To get yourself prepared for PMP Certification , http://www.pmstudy.com is the best source.