AtTask: Usability+Scalability+Customizability=High Degree of Likability
January 11, 2014

AtTask: Usability+Scalability+Customizability=High Degree of Likability

Anonymous | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 9 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User

Software Version

Anaconda, AtTask View iPad Application, AtTask for iPhone/Android Phone

Overall Satisfaction

  • Visibility: When I began interviewing team members when I first started in my current role, the first and most common complaint I heard from the majority of them was "Too many status meetings eating up time." I've always viewed this as a symptom of a problem, rather than the problem itself. Upon further investigation, it became clear that the problem was a lack of visibility and consistency in reporting for stakeholders. Some of our project managers were creating a wiki space for every project, others were using online workspaces, some even resorted to using a local Excel or Word document to keep track of progress. This caused our stakeholders to experience what I call "Status Anxiety." It was infinitely easier for each of them to setup a weekly status call for their projects, which in turn made the work going into maintenance of the project wikis, workspaces, and scope documents redundant. Enter AtTask. Ease of use for our stakeholders mixed with customizability made it very easy to give all of our stakeholders a "one stop shop" for engaging our team, communicating with the project managers, and allowing them to see exactly what the project's status is in a few clicks. Obviously, the caveat here is that our project managers are then responsible for keeping information up to date, which is unavoidable in almost any scenario. It's difficult for project managers to change behaviors and commit to using a new tool, but AtTask provides the best combination of usability and capability which is helpful in the buy-in process.
  • Single Source of Truth: The second major symptom I learned about from team members is that the same information about a project was being maintained in more than one tool, and those tools did not communicate with each other. The real concern here is that the information being duplicated was critical data that was vital to a successful project execution. In the most extreme example, one project manager had to update 4 separate data sources any time there was an update on a project. Each of those 4 data sources had a different owner, which mean they all had their own quirks and nuances when it comes to naming conventions and editing processes. Again, this was a symptom of the real problem. The problem being that no one had taken the initiative to implement a single set of standards for tracking project information. Everyone was left to their own devices. This might give those people an illusion of satisfaction by letting them "do it however they want." The reality, however, is that this mode of operation is a catalyst for chaos. With AtTask, we were able to migrate existing data to the appropriate projects and use the reporting and dashboard tools to provide the project managers with the same functionality while giving our stakeholders that "one stop shop" they didn't know they wanted so badly. The caveat here, is that licensing becomes an issue. We have 150+ licenses, but hundreds of stakeholders. We are able to use public reports to allow those stakeholders to have visibility without requiring a license, but this is undoubtedly a restraint in my opinion. There is more good news however, if license quantities is an issue. AtTask provides a wonderful API for accessing, creating, modifying, and even deleting project data using the RESTful API. If you have some PHP, JavaScript, and HTML skills, then you can heavily customize your usage of AtTask and enable reporting, updating without having to be logged in to the AtTask interface.
  • "Scalable Usability": I don't know if this is a real term, but I use it anyway. I use it to describe how easy it is to control the complexity of the system on a group or user by user basis. If one of our stakeholders requires nothing more than read-only access to projects, I can easily control what they see in AtTask and cut out all of the excess information that is not required. I can also setup one of our project managers with an expert level access that permits them to customize their own interface and create unique views, filters, reports, and dashboards that they need. In all of the work management tools/solutions I have used, this is where AtTask really shines. The same system is as relevant and useful to the "once a week" user as it is to the "I live in it" user. The ability to create custom data that you can track and report on is of immense value. After only 12 months of tracking a few metrics from our custom data, we are now aggressively expanding the amount of tracking and reporting we do inside of AtTask. The trends we were able to report on using custom data, which required minimal maintenance during the year, spoke for itself when those reports were delivered. Buy-in from management was instant. As with my previous examples, I'll caveat this as well. If you get in the habit of creating too many unique access profiles and too much custom data, I can see how it could easily get out of hand. The temptation to "just throw it in there" is great, especially since it is so easy to do.
  • Ease of Use: Regardless of how simple the tool is, you will always encounter push-back when trying to transition a large group of people into a new system. We understood this and released AtTask in smaller, more digestible waves, incorporating the more advanced features gradually. This helped by allowing the users to get to know the system on a simpler level first, helping in their "conversion" if you will. As we then rolled out the more advanced, and "cooler" features, they were anxious, even excited for it. Even with this approach, we still faced potential roadblocks. Taking advantage of how customizable the AtTask experience is, our stakeholders were able to catch on very fast, and we were surprised at how quickly the praise started to come in. A great example of this is an email that was sent to myself and my manager. The subject line, "AtTask Rocks!" She went on to express how much she loved being able to find the right person at any given time on any one of her projects, and how easy it was for her to collaborate with the project team. We have even received requests from multiple teams for licenses so they could start using AtTask because they had seen such positive reactions from their peers. I have never seen that happen before. A team coming to me, asking to be a part of the radical process change.
  • The Calendar: Although I am listing this as something that needs improvement, I want to make sure it's clear that the calendar tool in AtTask is much better than most. It's just that I have yet to see a Calendar tool that is actually usable. The AtTask calendar comes close, very close, but it has a few fatal flaws. It lacks customizability. It's greatest feature is how easy it is to customize your calendar filters, but it lacks customizability in the actual calendar view. I'm unable to: control how titles are displayed, modify information in the calendar view, control size/scale. If the calendar could be updated with some more customization options, some forms of conflict or clash detection, and some integrations with web calendars, then the AtTask calendar would be the cream of the crop.
  • Resource Management and Portfolio Optimization Tools: I won't get into these too much, but I want to make a distinction. I dislike the tools that are built in to the product for these features. I love the capabilities. It just needs to be implemented in a more user-friendly solution. The old flash-based interface is clunky, and the user experience is terrible.
  • Mobile App: I am NOT talking about the AtTask View iPad application. The AtTask View iPad app is phenomenal. I am referring specifically to the iOS and Android app that is built for mobile phones. It is such a great start, and could be so good, but I feel like it is more successful at being a tease than a real solution. I understand that it was initially built for "team members" and not project managers or stakeholders. For managing your own tasks, it's a decent solution. For anything more than posting updates and marking tasks complete, however, it needs work. In this arena, Basecamp and Asana are far superior. They are inferior in almost every other way, but in the mobile world we live in, AtTask really needs to have a more powerful mobile solution. The on-demand version of AtTask is actually very usable on a tablet, but it is impossible to use on a mobile phone.
  • Object Reporting: One little nuance that can be a little bit annoying at times has to do with how the system is built. When reporting or otherwise interacting with Project, Task, or Issue objects, the separation between them becomes a barrier when trying to setup some advanced reporting. For example, you cannot create a report that consists of both Projects and Tasks. You can create two separate reports; a Project report and a Task report, and then pull those two into a dashboard to show them together in a single view, but you cannot aggregate data across the two objects without some heavy customization. Such customization almost always requires integration with a 3rd party service or application.
  • Advanced Charts: If you only need to create simple or moderately advanced charts, then the built in chart tool is great. Very easy to use, sets up with a couple of clicks. If you want to get into some advanced charts however, AtTask does fall a little bit short. Obviously this is a sacrifice to make sure the simple and intermediate charts are so simple, but if you need to create complex aggregate or trends reports that are generated using a lot of data, a 3rd party integration may be required.
  • Turnaround Times: I can't speak for any improvement to lead conversion, or how revenue has been directly impacted. I am part of the Web Production team, which is a services team to the corporate marketing organization. What I can provide an example of, is how drastically our team's efficiency has improved. When I first started in my current role, the average turnaround time for production of a single asset (web page, email, etc.) was 6+ days. At the end of Q4 in FY13, the average turnaround time for production was 2.13 days. So although we don't track revenue figures in AtTask, we have observed both a reduction in turnaround time and an increase in throughput. In 2012, we successfully executed 536 projects. In 2013, that number increased to 723.
AtTask provides us with the best mix of Usability, Functionality, and Customizability in a work management solution. Although there are some opportunities for improvement in each of those areas, AtTask is our preferred solution.
For anyone in search of an enterprise work management solution, AtTask is undoubtedly my first suggestion. The only thing that keeps me from giving this a 10/10 is that there are some solutions available that I think are better suited for small business needs (and I mean very small business. 1-10). However, those solutions fail catastrophically if used for anything more than task management, or light project management.

Product Usage

150 - Web Strategy, Testing and Optimization, Web Production, Creative Studio, Editorial, Video Production, Paid Search, Relationship Marketing, Demand Program Management
2 - Entry level coding background, ability to learn the syntax in AtTask and how to use it in custom reporting
Portfolio, Program, Project Management
Agile/Scrum Methodologies (not required)
Experience with permissions systems
  • New Product Launches
  • Major Marketing Campaigns
  • Repeated, standardizable work
  • We use an AtTask report as a library of all web content that our team has produced. That library (report) is a tool available to our marketing managers in that it provides them with reusable content that can be leveraged in new marketing campaigns
  • Status reports serve as agendas for recurring status meetings
  • Agile for Marketing Teams using the backlog, story board, and agile team features
  • Prioritizing project requests according to their alignment to key business objectives
  • Timesheets and expense tracking
  • Integration with Sharepoint sites

Evaluation and Selection

Yes - Redmine: This never caught on with the larger group. Not sure why, but teams preferred AtTask.
Confluence: Too time consuming to keep project information up to date. Data stored in confluence is not very flexible.
Asana: Lacked a level of management above projects and tasks. Timesheets, expense tracking, and reporting capabilities are not native. All require 3rd party applications, often at an additional cost. Unable to create custom data. Lacks a scheduling feature.
Basecamp: Lacked a level of management above projects and tasks. Timesheets, expense tracking, and reporting capabilities are not native. All require 3rd party applications, often at an additional cost. Unable to create custom data. Lacks a scheduling feature.
Microsoft Project: Very manual process. Does not work well in a team environment. Difficult to collaborate without using other methods.
JIRA: More focused on bug and issue tracking. Does not work well for schedule creation, project/portfolio management.
  • Price
  • Product Features
  • Product Usability
  • Prior Experience with the Product
It's a draw between Usability and Features. We needed a feature-rich solution that was not overly complicated as a result. Many of our users don't interact with AtTask on a daily basis, so we needed something that does not require expertise in order to use. At the same time, we needed the capabilities that are often associated with complexity.
With the confidence I have in AtTask now, I would have spent less time trying to "sell" it, and let the skeptics come to the conclusion by themselves. I am confident that even if some of them tried other products or solutions first, the list of features those products and solutions lack would naturally drive them to AtTask.