I learned about Kickoff today, a new Mac team task management application. I downloaded it after watching their informative video, and I like, mostly, what I found.
Kickoff is perhaps the closest I have found for a minimal usable team task management tool. It is simple and intuitive, although some might fault it for lacking ‘projects’, and instead opting to manage around teams and task lists.
Here’s a screen shot showing its principal features (pardon my typos, like ‘No attributed for tasks?’ should read ‘No attributes for tasks?’):
At the top left (1) you can see that ‘Meeting Room’ is selected for the team ‘Stowe Boyd and The Messengers’ (2). As a result the activity stream in the left hand panel is that team’s meeting room.
Notifications of team-related actions show in the activity stream like someone joining the team (3), or of task assignments (5).
URLs can be included in status updates (4), and are clickable as in this case which is a public Dropbox link. There is a special treatment of Twitter links (7) where they are displayed in Twitter format so that all the various links are clickable.
Attachments can be dropped onto updates (6), and images are rendered in place.
Tasks are linked to the team context, but can be subdivided into lists (8) to logically decompose the team’s work. Here there is a single list. To add a task to a list you simply drag below the list label.
Every task has its own activity stream (9) which is viewed by clicking on the talk balloon in the task, or by clicking on the arrow in the notification of comments in the activity stream (3).
Not indicated in the annotations is that private chat between members is supported. At the top of the activity stream near (1) you can see a second tab with a lightning bolt icon and the member name ‘Other’, which, when clicked, shows a discussion between me and Other Boyd (me via a different email address).
What is also not shown is that selecting a different team from the pull down list at (2) leads to a different team context, with its own activity stream, private chats, and task panel.
The Bottom Line
I have only fooled with Kickoff for a short time, and not used it in a team setting. However, my sense is that it could be a viable team task management tool for small teams, although with several glaring omissions:
- Task due dates — I think that tasks need to have a few more attributes that name, assignee, and comment thread, especially a due date.
- File-sync-and-share — Kickoff lacks an integration to tools like Dropbox or Google Drive. As a result, I can’t share a document with a team member with the goal that later updates to the document will be seen by that member. I would have to re-upload it. And in that way lies madness. Best from my viewpoint would be an integration with Dropbox like Asana now supports.
- Creating Kickoff tasks outside the tool — I’d like to be able to add tasks to my Kickoff externally, for example, while in Gmail or looking at a website. One option would be a bookmarklet or a browser plugin. Many tools support email integration, but I am less interested in that and I think the bookmarklet approach is simpler.
- iPhone and other mobile device clients, a browser implementation — really essential.
- Windows — Up to this point, at the end of 2012, I would have said that a Windows implementation was sensible, but given how quickly that OS is falling off the cliff, I won’t say it. A browser implementation is probably enough for that rapidly dwindling population.
I find myself wanting to love this tool which has great Mac sensibilities, but without due dates — at the absolute least — I can’t even see trying to use it other than the most rudimentary of test drives. But I will certainly revisit, as the beta moves along.