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activeCollab is changing, and you get to help decide it’s future!

If you’ve been buried in your work like most busy project managers you may not stay up to date with all things activeCollab — so you may not have seen or heard about the Next version that’s been leaked out via a Teaser Video from the activeCollab team.   If not, you can see it here.

But even more important than the teaser, is the opportunity to let your voice be heard regarding their newest version. If you haven’t seen this yet, activeCollab has sent out a recent survey to get feedback from customers on the future of the Self-Hosted edition.

For those using the Self-hosted version, it’s especially important as it will give the activeCollab team direct feedback on what influenced you to choose the self-hosted solution to be sure your needs are being considered.

Go ahead — Take the survey now, I can wait :).  Or, read on for more thoughts on the next version.

Click to Fill Out the ActiveCollab Survey

It’s Getting Exciting

We’re all excited about this new version. We’ve always been early adopters ourselves, as are many of you. But, as you can imagine for us as 3rd party developers who build on top of another platform — there’s always an uneasy feeling that comes along with the excitement of a new major release.  There’s much anticipation as we all wait to see what’s changed so we can begin the potentially labor intensive process to update our modules.

Of course, we want to get our hands on the new version to try it out! But we also want to be sure we can continue to solve those problems you came to us to solve — so you can continue to manage your projects smoothly without interruption.

So much has changed in the activeCollab landscape over the years, especially in the last one – with the introduction of the AC Cloud to support those who wanted an easy out of the box solution without having to setup their own hosting . As easy as it can be to setup AC, it’s still intimidating for some users, so it’s nice they have this platform to get started.

By the way, hosting activeCollab isn’t as hard as some make it look— you may be surprised to learn that we host our own activeCollab for less than $10 per month.  If you need help with this, definitely reach out.

When it comes to Self-Hosting vs Cloud, for some users as many of you already know, the self-hosted version is the only option. There are some key benefits of activeCollab that are only available in the Self-hosted edition….

  • Company policies that require hosting on in-house servers for privacy and security reasons
  • The ability to tweak existing features in order for them to fit the workflow
  • Off the shelf 3rd party modules that can be downloaded and installed
  • The ability to develop your own fully custom new features or workflow solutions that go beyond what’s available via the API

This is especially important for those needing all out custom solutions like the ones we’ve built for Enterprises, Hotel Groups, Restaurants, Startups, Universities and more.

 

Staying True to the Origin of activeCollab

The self-hosted solution was activeCollab’s origin — In my opinion, their key differentiator in many ways as very few solutions allowed for customization or even the availability of downloadable add-on modules.   It’s without a doubt the reason why we started using it in the beginning ourselves — many years before we became ActiveLabs to help others be more productive with it.

I bet it’s part of your story too — after all, you are receiving this email or reading this blog post because somewhere along the way you were looking for modules, custom development help or consulting assistance from us.   And we’re very thankful to activeCollab and the A51 team for making such a flexible self-hosted solution for our own needs and also for the community that’s grown around the app. Not to mention the business, we’ve been able to build dedicated to helping others in this community.

 

The Good News

What’s great, is that even with the addition of the AC Cloud — activeCollab has acknowledged the continued need for the self-hosted edition, and that’s amazing to see.  With the growth of the cloud, I’m sure there could be the temptation to leave the self-hosted version behind for greener SAAS pastures, but I respect that they are recognizing their roots and making a renewed commitment to the self-hosted users that helped them get to where they are today.  It says a lot.

 

What’s Coming Up in the Next Version?

Now here’s where you come in. There’s a big part you can play in the Next edition — call it activeCollab 5 or activeCollab Next — we’re not sure.

Yes, they are keeping it that hush, we haven’t seen it beyond what you’ve seen in the teaser, which is hard for us.  You’ve been reaching out to ask us, ‘Will my module be compatible? How about that custom development we did, will it be hard to update?’

And unfortunately, the answer is –  We don’t knowbecause we don’t know how much the codebase has changed.  But even more unsure is the state of customization altogether.

 

The Future of 3rd Party Modules & Customization

Why do I say this?  Because it seems this question is a high priority on the survey —- that’s where we need your help.  As a power activeCollab user, you may be relying on many 3rd party modules from our colleagues in this space like AppsMagnet, UsWebstyle, ZingDev, Triotech, ActiveCollabMod and others, not to mention our own modules or any customization since it’s all done with modules. I know WE do, along with many of our consulting clients.

We even have some modules you’ve never seen before that haven’t been released because of the unsure nature of the activeCollab marketplace over the last while.  I know my other colleagues in the space have probably felt very similar over the last few years. They are mostly maintaining modules rather than investing in new solutions because the ecosystem of the community is a difficult one with an ever changing landscape and less and less exposure available to new customers with the focus on the Cloud and the removal of the Downloads area from their new website, along with the recent announcement that the public forums on the site will soon be discontinued.

And for those of you who use them, you know that they can make a big difference in the day to day operation when you find one that fits your workflow needs.

 

You Owe it to Yourself

I’m not asking you to help us by manipulating your survey answers, we just want to be sure your voice is heard!   — You owe it to yourself to know that your vote is in for what is important to you.  Take the survey, because it matters to you and those like you who rely on the flexibility of the self-hosted version with custom solutions and 3rd party modules…My concern is that, those who invest in these improvements are often busy improving their business and not always the ones who have the time or interest in filling out surveys.

 

What if Add-ons and Modules didn’t exist?

I understand, we are all busy and doing another survey isn’t exactly at the top of our list, but please don’t  miss the importance of this.

If modules don’t exist, activeCollab becomes like every other web-based project management system – you rely on the development team to know what’s best for you.   And if that happens, those of us who rely on customization to make our workflows actually WORK will be back to work arounds and external api solutions that mean going outside the system for a solution. Many of our customers came from other tools like Basecamp that aren’t customizable and they ended up stuck doing workarounds and were tired of it.

I want what’s best for activeCollab and for all those using it — sure we wouldn’t be here today as ActiveLabs if they didn’t support 3rd party modules so you may think I’m biased. But I’m more biased by the day-to-day interactions with customers like you, who use our products and many of the other 3rd party modules to work smarter by smoothing out their workflows.   And by those that have relied on the flexibility of custom developed modules whether created internally or with our help to go beyond the One Size Fits All solutions out there and really support their specific workflows.

To all those who like to keep their options open, you know who you are — cast your vote for the benefit of all activeCollab users.

We hope activeCollab will continue to maintain support for 3rd party modules and custom development — and even continue to expand the API to allow us to do more within the framework to help you to collaborate!

Thanks for taking the time to read this today and if you have your own thoughts and concerns about activecollab Next/ 5.x please share any comments or questions below  or contact us privately.

And again if you haven’t filled out the survey yet, please take a couple minutes to do that now.

 

 

Does Working Together Yield Weaker Results?

I read an interesting article today about The Collaboration Paradox over at 99U — they touch on the topic of whether collaboration leads to more or less productivity within teams.

Personally I’ve always had the feeling that 1+1=2 or even 1+1 = 3 but there’s definitely factors where this equation breaks down. In the post, they explore and deconstruct this with some valuable insight on where collaboration normally suffers and how to be sure you are avoiding some common pitfalls.

A key takeaway that’s very relevant in project management with activeCollab or any software…

“Delineating responsibilities at the start of a project gives everyone at the table direction and a sense of ownership.”

Ron Friedman via 99U

Worth a read!

Read the full article The Collaboration Paradox @ 99U

 

And if you haven’t seen 99U before, they put out some great articles and resources like the book: Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind (The 99U Book Series)

 

What tips do you have for keeping collaboration from weakening your results?

Life’s Short, Don’t Repeat Yourself – Introducing Task Templates for activeCollab

Are you setting up the same tasks EVERYDAY and wish you could just choose a template from a list instead of writing it up from scratch each time?

 

On the activeCollab forums, DogCoaches asked

“Is there a way (or module) to create a task template with a set of Subtasks that can be chosen when creating a new task?

We have the same path to follow with certain tasks, and it would be great if we don’t need to create the same subtasks over and over again.”
Little did they know we were already in the labs working on a solution… now they can start building a library of Task templates to choose from when creating a new Task!

No need to create a whole Project Template for simple routine repeatable tasks that you add to a client’s project and assign –we’re talking easy!

Just select New Task from Template, and subtasks are added automatically.   That’s not all, like magic when you pick a new due date —  subtask dates take care of themselves (following your original timeframe)!

What about assignees?

 

No worries, do you have a specialist who should always do a certain task?  Assign them to the template, and they will be auto assigned.   If they aren’t part of the project yet, you’ll be alerted so you can quickly add them to take part in the work needed for the Task.

Bonus: You can switch the assignees and dates before creating the Task so you don’t have to go back and make changes after people are notified (a common problem when using the “Copy to Project” feature…  if you’ve tried this as a solution, congrats you are a power user but we all know it’s merely a work around when it comes to day to day use).

We know, you’ve got to ask… What about Permissions?!

activeCollab power users’ know right away to ask ‘what about permissions?’  With Task Templates no special permission is needed, if you can create a task — you can create a New Task from a Template unlike the often recommended Copy to Project feature that requires the special “Manage Projects” permissions that many team members’ just CAN’T HAVE due to privacy.  Say no to complicated work arounds and frustrating permissions and hello to Task Templates! 

To get started….

All you need to do is create a new project to store your Task Templates, add some Tasks (the way you always create tasks –no learning required), add a category if you’d like for easy organization and you are ready to get started using templates today!

We’re confident this will become one of your favorite features, like that employee of the month taking work off your plate!

Only $99 $39



(for a limited time)

 

Start Creating Task Templates Today

I’d like to learn more (with Videos & Screenshots)

What do you want us to build next?

Nathan

activeCollab addict and founder of ActiveLabs. 



P.S. – You’ll love Task Templates or your money back! Remember, as with all our activeCollab products we
offer a
 100% satisfaction guarantee, try it for 60 days, if you find it’s not making your team more productive — get a full refund!

P.P.S – Have a quick question about activeCollab, managing projects, virtual teams? You can also find me on Clarity.fm

 

 

Keeping busy… activeCollab browser extensions, modules updates & more

Phew… we’ve been working hard this month! And we bet you’ve been working hard too, so we wont take much of your time. Just a quick update — all our modules are compatible with activeCollab 4.2.4

Speaking of modules, this month we were busy adding feature requests from customers to our activeCollab browser extension EasyCollab — in the latest version we’ve added a bunch of new premium features for Chrome and Firefoxand now this week we’ve added Safari too!

Follow @EasyCollab on Twitter for the latest updates.

 

Adding a comment to the task from EasyCollab

Adding a comment to the task from EasyCollab

 

 

What do you want to see next? Send us a note in the comments if there’s something you wish activeCollab could do — we might just pick your idea to release for March!

Are you ready to make collaboration easier?

Introducing EasyCollab…

A new way to see and focus on what’s happening in your projects, in just one click from Firefox and Chrome without logging into your activeCollab! Why? Because we’ve found that even one more click can ruin your productivity by creating a disconnect between you and what needs to get done.

Not to mention how logging into your email to see a notification from activeCollab can send you and your team into a black hole of newsletters and social networking notifications instead of getting your work done.

EasyCollab Pro – Assignment List

With EasyCollab Pro, you’ve got a list of exactly what you need to do — with gentle notifications, to remind you to check in on recent activity right where you need it.

Assignments List Sort by

You may remember a couple weeks ago we invited a group of user’s to get an early look — well now’s your chance! Starting today for a limited time, EasyCollab Pro is available at one special price for your whole team! — 1 user or 100 users, just one low price of $79/year.

Setup is easy!

Within minutes your team can start seeing their lists of Tasks grouped by Project and Milestone — and can easily dig into a more advanced view with features like Filtering, Sorting and more.

See what you need to get done in a snap!

Filter by Label — To zoom in on areas of the workflow to batch your work – i.e. Knock out all the Feedback you need to get done.

Filter by Label

Filter by Project — Drill into a specific project on the fly, to stay focused and limit distractions!

Filter by Project

And more! Plus even more too come…

Are you ready to improve your productivity?


We hope you’ll join us in making collaboration easier by picking up EasyCollab today at this special limited time only price.

If you have any questions, please reply and we’d be happy to help.

Nathan

P.S. – Remember, as with all our activeCollab products we offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee, try it for 60 days, if you find it’s not making your team more productive — get a full refund!

A Case for Doing Things

“It’s the task that’s never started that’s the most tiresome” – Gretchen Rubin

Credit: doornob Youtube:Stop Motion – Biblioteca Tetris

“To do, or not to do, that is the question…” Is your daily inner monologue a rephrasing of this familiar sounding prose?

If your process of deciding to do (or not do) something is growing wearily long and drawn out with seemingly relevant considerations, clutter, what ifs, and personal insecurities … If you are overcome by downright fears that might keep you from even being willing to consider the thought of doing even the smallest things … consider this:

The case for doing things is…. you will have done it.

” A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life doing nothing.”  – George Bernard Shaw

No, I’m not talking about checking your email or should you go out to the usual restaurant tonight.  We’re talking about the stuff slightly (or way) beyond your comfort zone, or that goal that feels like it might be out of reach (or only possible in an alternate universe).

Do those things.

“What one does is what counts, not what one has the intention of doing” – Pablo Picasso

Fast forward to what triggered these thoughts today… soon you’ll have done many things, and when you see the results… new processes you have in place that are running smoothly, the pictures from that trip you always wanted to take, an Evernote full of pages that make up your book,  thousands of people using your app, or maybe a long page of reviews by satisfied customers, readers or house guests …   like a number of these that hit me tonight, the emotions that flood over you as you reminisce might even inspire you to do yet another thing… like a blog post maybe? 😉

“The man who says it can’t be done shouldn’t interrupt the man who is doing it “ – Chinese Proverb

What will you stop adding to your to do list today… and just do?  Share in the comments so we can celebrate the doing of it with you.  If you have some collaboration goals that you need help with, let us know!

Projects can be unpredictable… and that’s OK

keep calm and expect the unexpectedWell, if there is one thing predictable about projects… it’s that they are unpredictable.

Maybe we could argue that the people, places and things that are involved in projects are really the ones that throw off any sense or notion that things will go as planned, but in the end what’s most important is that we know… we accept it and prepare for it.

Now that we know, what can we do about it?

Some book titles conveniently come to mind right away… Don’t sweat the small stuff and Expect the unexpected …. the theme here being: Focus on your perspective and creativity to take on a challenge. Since it’s not humanly possible to be prepared for everything, you can still be in principle… “Ready for anything”

I find the more I accept it and set my expectations, the better equipped I am for the changes in direction, climate and velocity of a project. We all want things to go smoothly but allowing for some flexibility, can go a long way to reducing stress levels, creating better long term business relationships …and probably at home too. *I’ve yet to see someone who didn’t have problems with at least a little cross contamination between work and home life when it comes to stress… maybe you could be the first? 😉

What are some ways we try to expect the unexpected while not sweating the small stuff?

  • Leaving yourself some breathing room when scheduling — even just thinking “maybe this project might not follow my rigidly set plan” could help
  • Being realistic about projects from the beginning and not taking on something with a deadline you can’t or don’t want to meet (yes, we’re talking about stress again here)
  • Don’t write checks that a certain unmentionable part of your body can’t cash 😉
  • Get to know yourself and your team better — the less that is unexpected, the less you have to guess what to expect.
  • Apologize when you see that you have been the cause of a delay – sweeping it under the rug doesn’t help. Promise to do better next time. But get it resolved quickly.
  • Communicate ( Just being honest, this is the hardest one for me — I’m working on it – I don’t like letting people down, and sometimes forget to communicate until I know the answers that are holding things up )
  • This last one might seem counter intuitive — but sometimes the best thing to keep from sweating the small stuff, is to get away from it all and do something else you love… come back fresh and ready to handle the twists and turns of the project. For me, that’s basketball, yoga, reading or a nap(that’s sounds like another blog post, the wonders of exercise and power naps — stay tuned).

So what’s your perspective?…

  • Do you expect projects to go smoothly?
  • Do you build a little room into your projects for the unexpected?
  • When a project takes on a life of its own… how do you adapt?

The collaboration happens in the comments, share your thoughts… we all get a little better at expecting the unexpected.

More Productivity

ActiveLabs = Productivity

Don’t take our word for it, just ask our customers!

New & Improved

Hey Everyone!

I want to start out by apologizing that it’s been too long between updates — I promise you wont have to wait so long next time – And today’s update is all about making good on that promise!

But didn’t you just email me last week??

Some of you might be feeling like you just received something from us recently and wonder what I’m talking about…. And you’re right. We’ve had some great feedback on the most recent blog posts about Why we love activeCollab, Are you using it right? and What’s in a Name? … many of you took the time to also download our 7 tips for activeCollab Free PDF too!

But…. although we have been eager to share what’s going on… we’ve been biting our tongue about the improvements and updates we’ve been making behind the scenes on several of our most popular products!

Why the wait?

Why have we been keeping quiet? Well we’ve been working to improve things on several fronts at once and in the process, a few of the valuable updates to our products were delayed as we were aiming to announce the updates while unveiling our new Members area to make your life easier.

The New Members area — It’s finally here!

The day has arrived, long overdue — you can now login and download updates to any ActiveLabs products from our new Members area with your email address and password, existing customers will receive their login shortly, please login and checkout your updates!  We’d love to hear your feedback, and definitely let us know if you have any issues — [email protected]

So what’s new?

Tabinator ProTabinator Pro

There are just so many improvements in this new version that we felt it needed to be called 2.0 — the most requested feature is now available Unlimited Filter and URL tabs! Other exciting features like Role Management to create base tab configurations for each role — for easy setup of all users. Custom color indicators, drag and drop re-ordering, choose your default tab, and the list goes on. See all the details | Buy Now

Team PrivacyTeam Privacy

We’ve fully revamped this module to provide a much more intuitive UI, along with both a new Quick Settings feature to get up and running easily and an even more powerful Role settings configuration. See all the detailsBuy Now

QuickifyQuickify

We’ve quietly added some new features to Quickify that we thought you should know about too… a new Menu Only version not shown in the previous Quickify videos, creates a faster and smaller footprint when you are accessing the features in the toolbar. Customizable Role Settings to only show the optimal features to each role. New iPad / Touch device support — touch and slide on any Ticket or Task link to use Quickify on your phone or tablet! See all the details | Buy Now

And more…

That’s not all, for other updates login to the new Members area and check Your Account for any relevant updates. With the release of our new Members area, you’ll now have access to all your purchases and updates during your 1 year license all in one place.

A note about automatic updates…

We think it’s a great idea to have automatic notifications when new versions are released ala WordPress style plugin updates — that’s why we love what Apps Magnet are doing for the community with their new aC Garage Lite module. We’re thankful for the opportunity to help our customers stay up to date too, so we’ve accepted Nirav’s invite to add our product line to acGarage lite to keep you informed of any updates right where you need them! Get acGarage lite now, it’s free! While you are at it, check out the acGarage Pro service if you’d like to keep your system up to date the hands-free way.

Stay Tuned for More Updates

We’ve been busy with Rocking Your Workflows, Live Chatting with some great visitors, and tweeting advice too… even building out some complex custom development for some amazing clients! (Who else responds “I want to make out with this thing” when they are demoing the latest edition of your work for them! This made our day of course… you know who you are! Thanks!)… but with all that, we’ve still got some exciting new surprises on the way…

As always, happy collaborating and I’m heading back to the lab!

Nathan

ActiveLabs

P.S. — Have a question about activeCollab that’s been bothering you?  I’m happy to answer questions on twitter anytime — tweet your question or frustrationlike David did, and we’ll have a mini Rock Your Workflow on twitter!

Why I Love activeCollab…

And other things to be thankful for… plus a chance to win a Rock Your Workflow session!

(note: It is was Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada… hope you wont mind joining me in some Thanksgiving spirit)

Have you ever taken someone you love for granted?…
Or just for a while got so caught up with your life that you forgot all the things you love about them?

It never feels good to be on the receiving end of that lack of appreciation and as much as we are around our family, friends or even our team, it’s easy to start taking them for granted too. So in the spirit of Thanksgiving, which is this weekend here in Canada and next month with our friends in the US — as well as some feelings stirred up by Steve Jobs’ untimely passing — I felt like it would be a good time to show some appreciation…

I’ve been really fortunate to have such a great team, that starts with my wife (and business partner) and carries itself through to our admin and development teams — I really didn’t feel like I took them for granted, but in the past couple weeks it’s become a lot more obvious that the real answer is ‘I don’t mean to take them for granted.’

Sherice, my wife — I realize sometimes I’ve expected help from her without really valuing it the way I should.. she’s the best partner in the world.

The rest of the team — To build the products we have and meet the needs of our custom development clients….well, let’s just say, I put them through a lot of challenges and make demands on their abilities…I’m never happy just making something work, it’s got to be just right (logic, functionality, user-friendliness, aesthetics, etc)… so there’s a a lot of research, tweaking, talking and more tweaking! They don’t complain though, and often they are excited about the challenges that come from what we do together, just like me… what more could I ask for?

The Unsung Hero…

There’s also an important member of our team that never really gets the appreciation deserved and by now you probably see where I’m going with this… activeCollab… better known as The Dashboard in our day to day conversations or Dash for short (not quite as creative and original a name that I hope you’ve come up with).

Dash is in the office working , 24 hours a day , 7 days a week… always ready to jump into whatever project any one of our team wants her to focus on, oftentimes multiple projects at once… pulled in many different directions but never complaining. She’s got a great memory, so I can be sure that even if I forget something , I’ll be reminded or have access to her information on anything when I need it.

When Dash first joined our team, our workflow was quite different, very little was systematized (yes, that IS a word :)). Everything was in someone’s head, and not easily accessible at all and most things we did were done differently each time because of that… if they even got done because no one’s memory was as good as Dash’s.

Sure, Dash and I have had our differences, but I’ve come around to her way of thinking… and she’s learned some new things along the way, both from my instruction and from others who have invested the time in her, and for that I’m very thankful.

Enough with the story, you get it… activeCollab truly is the MVP on our team, not to undercut anyone else’s value… we all know we’d be lost without her. Tracking projects, tasks, time, people… it’s no small feat, and we all count on activeCollab day in and day out to be there for us.
What’s better than some appreciation? More of the same!

This weekend, I’m making you all honorary Canadians – eh!

I’d like you to take some time to think about how thankful you are and finish this sentence for me….

“I love activeCollab because… “

OR just tell me what you love about activeCollab in your own words… why not write your own blog post, tweet, or status update about it and post a link here in the comments below! For those of you in the US, you’ll be thankful ahead of schedule… 😉

BONUS — Post your “I love activeCollab” thoughts by October 31st (Extended) and you’ll be entered to win a free Rock Your Workflow session, we’ll choose a random winner by this time next week!
I’ll start things off….

I love activeCollab because… it’s given me the opportunity to find what I love to do and do it with a great team and meet some amazing clients from around the world using it to collaborate on interesting projects… and to help them do what they do even better and easier!

I love activeCollab because… it’s a great foundation to manage my projects, but I’m not limited to built in features… I can use 3rd party modules to expand the features or build my own. Thanks to Appsmagnet, USwebstyle, activeCollabmod and all my colleagues that are part of the developers program…. and to all of you who provide us with feedback and suggestions to improve our products.

I love activeCollab because… of the Modern theme — Thanks Leon! If it wasn’t for you… I’m not sure I could spend the whole day looking at my work, and I’m sure Dash appreciates it 😉

And last, but most certainly not least…

I love activeCollab because… ActiveLabs wouldn’t exist if we didn’t come across aC years ago and start to put it to work in our own business… so a BIG thanks to Ilija, Goran and the whole A51 team for building the foundation of such a great tool and for putting up with all of us who bombard you with support requests, ideas and questions in the forums and email everyday.

Happy (Canadian) Thanksgiving to everyone –I hope you have a great rest of your weekend!

Nathan


P.S.

— Don’t forget to share your own “I love activeCollab” stories in the comments! Our way of saying thanks for sharing…. we’ll randomly select two “I love activeCollab” commenters to win a free Rock Your Workflow session $250 Tweet your #iloveactivecollab thoughts and get two entries :)


P.P.S.

– If you aren’t feeling the love for activeCollab right now, that’s ok… send us an email with why you hate activeCollab and you’ll be entered to win too! I am confident we can help you start loving activeCollab again too.

*BTW*

Don’t forget to tell your team, family and friends how much they mean to you too! :)