If you’re a huge fan of waterfall methodologies (or bound to it by your current employer), Zen is not for you.
If, however, you’re probably part of a small team working on the next iPhone killer app and in need for a simple, visually pleasing and effective task collaboration solution, I’d highly encourage you to check it out.
Zen builds on top of some fundamental principles embodied by agile software development. It focuses on enhancing visibility and team communication.
Setting up a project is a straight forward process: You can start with a default layout or customize the phases each work item floats through:
Once team members start working on tasks, they drag them to the appropriate phase. If they encounter issues which prevent them from progressing (like missing information), they can mark their tasks as “blocked”.
There are other features that let you color code entries to differentiate features from bugs or high-priority fixes and tagging is supported as a vehicle to further classify your entries, too.
While I occasionally bump into engineering managers who believe agile methodologies equal “not measurable”, my overall perception is, that more and more companies have recognized their advantages.
Zen delivers a fair amount of stats to satisfy even the craziest charting fan.
Many solutions I’ve used in the past relyied on email as a general mechanism to notify team members about updates. As busy inboxes tend to distract us, most developers switch these notifications off after a short period of living with the noise.
And that’s why I like Zen’s powerful messaging system that can alert everyone when something happens in the project, allowing team members to take action immediately to help keep the flow of work going. Instead of spending time in status meetings trying to keep everyone on the same page, Zen makes sure that everyone is kept up-to-date.
The solution does not drown you in a flood of email — Zen can just send you an instant message on Google Talk/XMPP, Windows Live Messenger, AIM, or ICQ. Since everyone has their own preferences on how to be kept in the loop, each user can customize how they are notified.
The service starts at US$ 9 per month for a 3 collaborators / 3 projects plan and goes up to US$ 99 for the ultimate unlimited package.
If you’d like to check out the fully ajax-ified user interface, sign up for the free single user plan.