PBworks, formerly known as PBwiki, yesterday announced the release of Project Edition. This edition combines the power of wiki collaboration with the ease of project management tools. This edition is directed towards freelance consultants, advertising firms, design firms, etc.. From the early days of a powerful wiki vendor, this company is evolving into a multi-dimensional collaboration tools provider. They added enhanced document management capabilities, support for mobile devices, then a version suitable for lawyers including ability to add legal knowledgebase and collaboration with clients and, now, they are targeting freelancers, design firms, marketing and pr firms, etc. with their Project Edition.
Traditionally, Project Management software are used, as the name suggests, to manage the projects. They play no role in the actual work done in the project. In this era of knowledge workers using Web 2.0 tools, the actual work happens in collaborative environments like Wikis. The idea behind PBworks Project Edition is to combine the Project Management features with the collaborative wiki environment so that the management becomes an organic outgrowth of the real work itself. They like to call this ‘Organic Project Management’.
I was a PBwiki user long back and, if my memory serves right, they had a centralized location from where I can access all the wikis on which I am a member/participant. They seems to have extended the concept and brought in the idea of networks in this Project Edition. This Project Edition has all the functionality present in the standard PBworks along with project specific features like Networks, Tasks and Milestones, etc.. This edition is ideally suited for all individuals and companies working with projects. With the networks functionality, it is now possible to create individual workspaces for each clients and then share this workspace with all the team members or with select members working on the project. This edition also comes with unlimited guest passes which can be used to give access to clients and other contractors participating in the project. The tasks and milestones features does what is it is supposed to do but its integration with the workspaces and networks gives users the ability to view tasks and milestones by workspace or see the users’ own action items across entire networks. This is a powerful feature which will be really helpful for companies/teams with many members working across multiple projects.
In short, Project Edition makes it easy for individuals/teams to work of projects of increasing complexity. It also increases the efficiency of the team (which may include employees, clients and contractors) many fold. A price of $20 per user per month makes this very attractive to freelancer consultants, smaller firms and, even, medium sized companies in this recessive economy. I could think of few other companies who could offer good competition to PBworks. Liquidplanner recently rolled out a Project Portal on top of their Project Management stack. They took a reverese approach to PBworks and now offer a similar offering even though PBworks beats them on the pricing front. Similarly, Zoho (Disclaimer: Zoho is the sole sponsor of this blog but this is purely my personal opinion) have project management and wiki products. They are slowly integrating their products so that they interoperate with one another. It is just a matter of time before they integrate Zoho Projects with Zoho Wiki. There is a pretty healthy competition in this space and PBworks is focussing on users in specific niche like legal firms, design firms, freelance consultants, etc.. They have a large and attractive market in front of them with almost a million consultants, 40,000 marketing/advertising/PR firms and 30,000 design firms in US alone. As SaaS adoption gets further foothold in these markets, PBworks could see solid success.