I am a functionality-over-form kind of guy. I’ll use Windows and Android because of the programs I can run rather than the beautiful walled gardens of OSX and iOS. I prefer an LG television set with better USB options than a stunning Sony Bravia. And I’m all for buying ill-fitting pants if it means they offer more comfort.
As long as it’s not downright ugly (and granted, ugly is a subjective term), I will always pick a product that offers more functionality than the one that is designed better.
And that’s what Wrike is. In terms of design chops, it’s got nothing going for it. In fact, there will be many who find it ugly. But it has so much power under the hood that to describe it, I can overlook the looks to feature the features.
What Is Wrike All About?
Wrike is a project management app in the same vein as Asana, DeskAway and many others. It’s a portal where you can set up a project and invite co-workers to participate. Then you can track the project’s goals, list new tasks, communicate details and ensure everyone is on the same page.
Folders & Tasks
Typically, each project has multiple sections, each with its own set of tasks. Wrike handles this by turning each section into a “folder”. This common terminology used in regular computing should make it easy for someone daunted by a new interface.
Once you create a new folder, you would obviously want to invite your teammates into it. This is achieved by a simple email, which lets you invite up to 5 people; more than that and you’ll have to rely on one of the paid options, depending upon your needs.
The next step is add new tasks in the folder. The app splits the screen into three parts: the sidebar that contains the folder tree and other menu options; the second pane with a list of the names of all the tasks in that folder; and the third pane with details about each task.
The task details pane offers everything you would possibly need to know about any task. It shows you basics, such as the date it was created, who it was created by, whether it’s currently active or accomplished, its due date, and more. You can also add and delete teammates on a task and determine its importance.
But three features stood out for me:
a) Time tracking: In each task, you can specify how much time you worked on it. And you and your teammate can keep adding on this entry till you are done. This way, you know exactly how long it takes to finish any task, you don’t need to estimate it. Unfortunately, this is a paid feature and not available in the free model; but you can try it out during the trial period.
b) Comments: It’s such a small thing, but I can’t believe how some project management apps miss it. A task management app is meant to replace email, so I should be able to do everything I normally would with an email. So if I have made a new task and invited people on it, I should be able to leave a comment on it and attach files if necessary. And my teammates should be able to comment on that, include notes about it, attach files or images, and generally use it like we would use a chain of emails. Thankfully, Wrike does it all and does it brilliantly at that.
c) Permalink: Each task has its own permalink that you can share with anyone else. I can’t even begin to describe how necessary this is — and could be the killer feature for which you opt for Wrike. When referring to any task already listed, it makes it so much easier if there’s a ready link you can specify and not a random header or a vague description. Trust me, no one’s good at communication and Wrike’s permalink helps solve that issue splendidly.
And of course, it’s linked with your email to get updates and notifications at the right time, and Wrike has full-fledged Android and iOS apps for your mobile needs.
A Mini Social Network
Now this is a super, super cool feature. Wrike comes with its own mini social network! The ‘Activity Stream’ tab is, by all accounts, a network for you and your teammates, wherein you can post any updates or comment on previous tasks.
An update is an individual ‘chat event’ that is visible to everyone, much like creating a new folder or a new task. It’s a great way to go off-topic at times because, let’s face it, these are real people you work with and you want to goof off once in a while.
You can also sort the Activity Stream Everything, Everything I Follow, Assigned To Me and My Conversations, for a quick look.
Speaking of quick looks, the dashboard is very handy when you want to know what’s on your plate right now and what’s coming up soon. This tab will fill up with all the tasks that are due today, this week, overdue, backlogged, favourited or more.
Once you start using Wrike regularly and your folders are filled up, it’s much easier to use this window to take a look at what needs to be done. It’s almost like an instant, smart to-do list.
Like I mentioned earlier, Wrike is free only up till 5 users and 2GB worth of storage space. Beyond that, you have various options for payment, starting at $49/m (5 users, 5GB) going up to $199/m (50 users, 100GB).
Wrike is pretty fantastic at helping you getting your work life in order. It’s not meant for individuals, obviously, but if you’re working in teams of 5 or lesser, the free version itself does a great job.
But if you need more users, perhaps Wrike might prove to be a bit steep with its pricing. I’m not entirely convinced it’s worth paying for unless you have a team of 25 or more.