Igloo adds task management to enterprise social suite

It's the latest among several ESN vendors to add this feature

Igloo's enterprise social networking suite now has task management features, the latest ESN vendor to make such a move.

Igloo's task management implementation takes three main forms.

The first is team tasks, where a workgroup can assign, monitor and collaborate on the steps and actions needed to complete a project. The second way in which tasks can be assigned and managed within Igloo is by appending them directly to content so that, for example, collaborators can annotate a document with to-do items needed for its completion. Tasks can also be added to calendar items, discussion forum entries, files and other types of content.

Finally, Igloo has added a personal task management feature, so that individuals can manage their to-dos without necessarily making them public, unless they choose to share those lists with others.

"Task management is the largest single feature capability we've introduced since social analytics a while back," said Andrew Dixon, Igloo's vice president of marketing and operations.

In all instances, task items can be shared and commented on, and their activity tracked via stream notifications. They can be assigned deadlines, priorities, access permissions, categories and level of urgency. All tasks can have subtasks.

Because tasks will be scattered among team lists, documents and personal lists, Igloo also created a central dashboard where all these action items can be viewed in a single place and sorted and filtered via several criteria, such as urgency, due date, type and the like.

Principles guiding the task management implementation were to make it simple and intuitive to use, and to have it be organically integrated with the rest of the suite, as opposed to having a separate tool for it, according to Michael Mackuliak [cq], an Igloo technical product manager.

ESN software, often described as "Facebook for the workplace," is designed to help coworkers collaborate and communicate better via ad hoc, spontaneous interactions, but it's not good for keeping structured track of to-dos and deadlines.

Consequently, many ESN software makers, including Jive and Tibco's Tibbr, have added social task management (STM) features to their suites. These STM tools help business managers plan projects and let employees track their work tasks.

STM software is meant to be more lightweight and user friendly than traditional project management products, and more robust than stand-alone tools for individual to-do lists. It also incorporates enterprise social features like the ability to comment on and share task lists.

As such, an STM component complements the core features of an ESN suite, such as the ability for employees to set up profiles, microblog, share files, co-edit documents, participate in discussion forums, launch wikis, and comment on and rate corporate content.

Alan Lepofsky, a Constellation Research analyst, said that with integrated task management, enterprise collaboration platforms go being places to just share information to places where work gets done.

"Prior to this, projects were managed either by email and spreadsheets or complex and expensive project management software. The new breed of social task management tools blends the benefits of these two approaches providing collaboration features with task management features," he said via email.

Igloo, whose ESN software is cloud-hosted and costs US$12 per user/month, plans to push out these new STM features to its customers Tuesday.

Igloo also improved its mobile app, which isn't a conventional app but rather a "wrapper" with key functions, such as authentication, which renders a responsive-design, browser-based experience for iOS, Android and BlackBerry devices. The iOS app, for version 7 and above, will be updated automatically, while the Android app, for version 4 and above, is new and replaces the existing one, so users have to download it from the Google Play store.

Juan Carlos Perez covers enterprise communication/collaboration suites, operating systems, browsers and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Juan on Twitter at @JuanCPerezIDG.

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