Finding the right technology to manage projects and support proposal development is painful and often wrought with the time-suck of trial and error. We’ve been a Microsoft shop since day one, and our love affair with MS Office goes back much further. Up until recently, if you were to ask us what project management system was the best…we’d answer without hesitation: Microsoft SharePoint.
However, we recently broke up with SharePoint and are in the process of moving our proposal projects to a new system: Teamwork.com.
If you’re shocked, we’re floored. What caused us—self-proclaimed content and knowledge management aficionados—to shy-away from the 800-pound gorilla?
Over time, lots of little things corroded our trust with what many consider THE proposal management system, but eventually it came down to three main factors:
- Being able to easily share and collaborate with external users.
- A great user-experience for our consultants who run and manage projects.
- We need to be able to rely on the look, feel, and functionality of our solution. Waking up to find an upgrade pushed out overnight changed the entire dashboard view isn’t a fun surprise.
Teamwork not only met each of these factors, but blew SharePoint away.
Why Teamwork Works for Us
With Teamwork.com, we can assign tasks, track progress, and communicate instantly across our virtual team. It’s integrated chat functionality and capability to integrate lots of fun apps like Dropbox, Google Docs, and Harvest make it efficient for our users. Their increased engagement consistently using a project management tool has cut down on the number of miscommunications and created lots of efficiencies. With task management, document versioning, and several different calendar options; Teamwork.com streamlines the innumerable tasks and activities needed to produce a winning response.
Working with External Users
By far, the biggest reason for the break-up was the sheer difficulty of adding external users to SharePoint. We’ve worked with hundreds of clients over the years—most of which are themselves small-businesses with their own systems, applications, and software. Adding these users into our Office 365 suite became a constant battle. Asking clients and consultants to create an account wasn’t only laborious for us—we feel like it’s aggravating for them to have to take extra time during a project when time is already a premium. Then, if a client ever forgot their password—or had multiple Office accounts—they could lose their access almost arbitrarily.
Teamwork.com made all these issue disappear. Now, with a single click, our Proposal Managers can add an external user to a project. Users provide the email address they want use and create their own user name and password. No waiting, no delays, no wasted time.
Great User Experience
Teamwork.com allows us to standardize the project experience, which allows consultants to quickly and intuitively navigate and manage their own proposals.
Here’s how it works at WinBiz:
- Our administrator creates the project with default information.
- Proposal managers quickly create a calendar, task list, Gantt chart, and document library. No coding, no downloads, no development.
- Default tasks like color reviews recur for every proposal, but our consultants can customize to best support our clients. Technical issues are a thing of the past—all our consultants have direct access to Teamwork.com’s help database and can ask questions, which are often resolved within 24 hours.
It’s quick, easy, and encourages engagement instead of deterring compliance with a project management tool—which we see happen all the time when technology is clunky.
Sense of Stability
If you had asked us last year if we would ever move away from SharePoint, we would have shunned you. In fact, we were in the middle of a WinBiz Proposals SharePoint solution rollout with new site templates and jazzy Document Set solutions. However, with the push to Office 365, Microsoft created an environment of unrelenting changes. We couldn’t keep up with all the new functionality and loss of old features. These unending changes created turmoil in our solutions. Views and looks would upgrade and push out overnight, regardless if we were mid-proposal.
Teamwork.com is much more stable—even with continually updates to features and functionality. The main difference is that instead of a notified push, changes are listed for all users. For example, when a new feature was added over Christmas, our Proposal Manager was able to quickly figure out what the pop-up meant and why. With a single brief phone call and an email sent to Teamwork.com’s customer service, we figured out next steps and were completely comfortable with the solution. A process inconceivable with SharePoint.
It’s Us, Not You MS Office
Although we broke up with SharePoint, we know it has a place in large organizations with dedicated IT support staff. SharePoint can solve practically any business issue with the right amount of development and coding. But, for us (and small businesses like us), we just didn’t have the time or resources to spend on development.
Everyone wants something different in a technology partner, and we have some really fond memories of our time with SharePoint. In fact, it still has a small place in our lives—we use it as an internal, enterprise management tool for Microsoft Groups.
But, Teamwork.com loves us for us. It doesn’t try and change our proposal management strategy to fit its technical requirements. And we love it for that. So for now, we’re sharing our love affair with the world.
Want us to share more best practices—whether tech, writing, or proposal management? Reach out!