PlanDone'sPlanDone. PlanDone's wiki-based app lets you assign projects and schedules, as well as track progress -- no big deal. But its claim to potential fame is its integration of instant messaging and other communications into the project repository. That approach retains the conversations around the project development itself so that context is available to all, as in a wiki -- unlike traditional IM, the messages aren't transitory. PlanDone also uses predictive capabilities to suggest individual workers' priorities in order to orchestrate the schedule, with the goal of increasing the chances of meeting the overall project deadlines and showing the status of each task within a project. Likewise, the app shows where individuals stand on each task, which can help managers know who might be freed up for an unexpected project, who might need more help, or where a project bottleneck exist. The message repository is the key twist in PlanDone, and it's a good insight but not a huge technology challenge. Grade C.
Qtask's Qtask. Qtask provides a hosted application for managing not just work products, such as Word files, project code, and Excel spreadsheets, but also for assigning people tasks, tracking their progress, managing approval, and coordinating the chain of ownership as projects go through the various experts who need to work in it. At the core of Qtask is universal, fine-grained visibility into the project, its tasks, and its participants' contributions to give managers both an instrument for accountability and an easier ability to adjust the project based on its actual state. Qtask also manages the communication across team members so that the discussions, e-mails, and more remain available to all participants, as well as for use later on, such as when starting up a similar project. It also means a contractor can't walk away with the work it did, leaving you out to dry. I liked how the service covers the entire project management activity, integrating most of the necessary technologies (e-mail integration may need some work), to provide a comprehensive collaboration medium instead of just a slice as so many others do. Grade: A.
Quantivo's Quantivo. The analytics startup's tool combines what it calls an "affinity" database with a cloud-based infrastructure hosted by ... well, the company won't say, but Amazon is a reasonable guess. Quantivo is designed to recognize patterns and index relationships, rather than looking at data in a conventional row-and-column configuration. The company claims a significant benefit of the product is its ability to recognize relationships within structured data. One example: drilling down into retail data to get a sense of which customers that have bought relatively inexpensive plumbing equipment are likely to purchase pricey items such as counters or cabinets. Quantivo is ambitious in a good way. Grade: A.