So you know you need to get with the digital task-management future, but you just can’t stomach the leap to tools like Basecamp, LiquidPlanner or Microsoft Project? Try taking a gander at TheDeadline, the trendy new Web-based task management tool, built on the emerging Google App Engine, that -- get ready for this -- attempts to guess which tasks you want to be working on and when.
That is, it tries to be like a real assistant, but without the paid vacations.
Intrigued -- and who wouldn’t be? -- I installed the new tool in my six-person digital content company. Sure enough, TheDeadline, the Web 2.0 creation of Stefan Richter and Claudia Dietz of German-based Freiheit.com Technologies, really does turn out to be one crafty little task management tool.
Things to Love
Super-easy set-up: TheDeadline is worth a test drive for ease of use alone. Everything runs from a clean, blog-like layout that prompts users to create ToDos that can be linked to due dates, members of your team, Web content, and tags, similar to, say, Twitter.
If you spend 10 minutes signing up and creating a basic set of ToDos and tasks, that’s a lot.
Big-league Web task-management with minor-league stress: TheDeadline is built around some serious rules-based math that bakes those tasks, tags, dates and contacts and into a self-optimizing list that guesses what ToDos you should be looking at first. This ordered list not only tells you what to do, it brings into sharp focus all the important knacks businesses need to master in order to task-manage in the digital age: How to share a web-based work space. How not to run your shop just from your e-mail in-box. How to get a feel for who on your team is where and doing what at a given time.
It’s all pretty subtle, and TheDeadline looks almost too simple, but what it shows you is not.
Things To Hate
It’s still a whole world of hurt to deploy: For all its cool factor, TheDeadline is still cloud-based software, and migrating to it takes real effort. Your team must remember to log into the TheDeadline site and not wait for an e-mail to remind them what needs to be done. (I know, that’s asking for it.) Mobile deployment is as of now limited, so you need a Web-connected PC to really use it. And your team will need to define its tags, the common conventions for how to update ToDos and otherwise decide on how to communicate. Which all takes serious time. And serious effort.
Google Apps integration is minimal: Integration with the rest of Google Apps is limited as of now. Yes, it knows my Google log-in, but not my contacts, my calendar or my documents. These features are sure to come. But for now, this software is all about making simple, smart task lists, and really nothing else.
The Smart Bet
By all means, give TheDeadline a spin. Find a low-risk internal, non-client project -- maybe updating your website or cleaning up old inventory -- and use TheDeadline with your team try to get that job done. That will get your feet wet with the software and see if the code can play a larger role in your shop.
Just keep in mind, this tool is no all-in-one productivity powerhouse. Rather, it’s a simple, smart list that gets your team in touch with powerful Web-based tasking concepts easily and cheaply.
TheDeadline gets you moving up in the Web cloud, but without all the attendant organizational thunder and lightning.