After playing around with Central Desktop, all I can say is, “WOW.”
Central Desktop allows users to create “workspaces.” The number of workspaces and whether these workspaces are public or private (default) depends on your pricing plan.
While you can add features to each workspace later, when you first create a workspace, you can choose between setting it up as a project management, wiki, database, corporate blog, user forum, or create your own. Because you can add each of these features to a workspace later, I’d recommend creating one based on the main purpose of the workspace.
And, now, to break down these features one-by-one…
A project management workspace allows you to “manage projects, organize tasks, milestones and track project statuses.” Like Basecamp, LiquidPlanner, Wrike, and others, this type of workspace on Central Desktop allows teams to collaborate on projects across the web, keeping track of tasks, and milestones. Users can assign tasks to other users and also designate the importance of tasks by clicking on the red, orange, or yellow bullet. You can sort tasks by due date, assign them to different folders, and link them to a milestone on your calendar.
Although Central Desktop does not plan for all contingencies like LiquidPlanner, it does run reports for those who like to keep track of completed tasks, events, or workload.
Central Desktop recommends using a wiki for a department or team intranets. Wikis also serve as a solution for knowledge management. For me, someone who is rather tech-oriented, wikis and their purpose still seem foreign.
In spite of the news calling today’s work environment “The Wiki Workplace,” I had no idea how to create a wiki. I found through stupid trial and error a few years ago that you can’t just go to wikipedia.org (oops!). However, websites offering wiki platforms, then and now, do not seem to advertise as well as the blogging services such as Blogger, TypePad, MoveableType, or WordPress.
Since I started my search for tools to create a corporate wiki, I did find WetPaint. (Eds. note: Also, PBWiki!) However, Central Desktop’s ease of use makes implementing a department wiki or organization wiki a cinch.
Moreover, with all of these features, the true benefit with Central Desktop is that everything is in one place. You no longer have to go to one site to add to your wiki, one site to check your calendar, and one site to manage your projects. It’s all in one place and it stays an affordable!
This is by far my favorite feature of Central Desktop: the ability to complement project management with discussions AND supplement both by creating your own databases. This solves many collaboration, knowledge management, activity management, planning issues for any organization – large or small.
Central Desktop states that the database as a workplace is “Ideal for managing customer and partner contacts, product listings, price lists, corporate compliance or custom workflow.” In addition, Central Desktop offers templates that you can manipulate to match your precise needs. You can also create a database from scratch or easily import data from another database or excel file.
Corporate Blog and User Forum
Central Desktop also offers the option to create your workplace into a corporate blog or a user forum. Whether your goal is to connect with coworkers or outside teams with which you are collaborating, both of these tools are great for building rapport and keeping in touch with key project members who may share similar project goals but not the same physical space.
Looking closely at all of Central Desktop’s features, it seems like the company – through the service it offers – truly understands that communication is key in an organization – but needs to be managed more efficiently. (Think: no more clogged inboxes!)
Okay, okay. I know that I’ve been praising Central Desktop left and right. (I promise, they don’t pay me any more than the other products on these pages.) However, there is one more tool that I think is worth noting.
Central Desktop allows users to host web meetings – conferences over the phone and computer – with chat rooms, a call-in number, a whiteboard, and other collaboration tools. True, this tool may not be as fancy as GoToMeeting. And, unfortunately, it’s not free like freeconferencecall.com. (To add this service through Central Desktop to the lowest plans cost $35 extra/month for 1 concurrent web meeting with 15 attendees). Nevertheless, there is the added benefit of using one interface for most of your needs. This lessens confusion, eases familiarity, and increases the probability that people will actual USE! this benefit.
Finally, taking testimonials to the next step, Central Desktop offers a page with customer feedback based on industry, business-size, and specific features.
I will say that along with Adobe, Box, Highrise, and our webhosts (StartLogic, Bluehost, and MediaTemple), Central Desktop is one of the tools that allows RecruiterEsq to focus on productivity while keeping operating costs low. (We may slowly use Central Desktop to replace Box and Highrise. We’ll let you know!)
If it’s good enough for a winning presidential campaign, it’s good enough for me.