Managing a team, remote or otherwise, can be a challenge. We should know, it’s no secret that The Next Web staff list spans the world.
One of the biggest challenges of working in a team can be keeping track of exactly where each team member is up to with a project. Enter Peak, a team management platform that wants to keep everyone up to date on progress without intruding on the working day. Better still, it’s from the company that brought you the beautiful task management app Flow for iOS and Android. It was also one of our ‘7 early stage startups to watch in 2014‘ last month.
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Marshall Haas, partner at design firm MetaLab, the company behind Peak, told TNW that the idea grew out of MetaLab’s own need to keep track of project progress beyond time-keeping for billing clients.
MetaLab has been around for about seven years, and as we grew it became increasingly hard to keep track of what everyone was up to. Before, we had time-tracking, and we do still track our time for consulting work, but internally, we really don’t care how long someone works on something, we prefer to look at their tangible outputs for that day. A design file, or the actual code they committed, not “I spent eight hours on x”. That was the pain point for us, we want to know the tangibles.
Haas said the other increasing problem was workplace interruptions. Before if he wanted to know what a designer was up to he’d have to get up, go to their desk, tap them on the shoulder, interrupt them and then they’d show what they were working on. Then they’d have to spend up to half an hour getting back in the zone. His solution was to make Peak totally automated.
We used to ask people at the end of the day to fill out a quick form on what they were up to, or post an update somewhere. We tried a bunch of different tools and really what we figured out was anything that requires some sort of manual entry eventually all falls apart. People forget to do it, it’s another interruption in and of itself, and nobody likes to do it either, so we wanted to totally automate the process.
How it works is by simply getting each employee to connect Peak to each of the supported services (Gmail, Dropbox, Github, Google Drive, Harvest, Basecamp and Google Calendar, for now). Each user will then get updates on each of those services.
So, if you spent an afternoon drowning in emails, it’ll be reflected in the stats. Likewise for any lines of code that have been committed or design changes drawn up.
As a bonus, it’ll show live previews of new designs (or other files) as they’re stored (shown above).
Alongside the activity feed is the Insights tab. Right now, it’s a view into exactly when your team gets most done and when it’s ultimately most productive. Haas says this could be expanded out to include different insights in the future but for now, you can use it to inform things like when not to book meetings as you’re usually getting your best work done.
The key point here is that there’s nothing much to really interact with – sure, there are status updates and other information from connected networks, but there’s no way to comment on them, or suggest changes directly within Peak. And for now, that’s a deliberate decision that’s here to stay, although this could change in the future, Haas said.
There’s actually nothing you can input, or upload or comment on. We’re thinking really hard about this: do we want to open up commenting and starring and things like that or do we want to be able to say it’s all automated and you never have to upload or comment on anything? We’re still really thinking about that and giving that feature the thought it deserves. So, not today, but potentially we’ll open that up.
This automation aspect might also dispel fears of an invasion of privacy – while you can see how many emails have been sent or received, you can’t see any of the details, for example.
Given the company’s roots in design, it’s unsurprising that the platform is geared towards services designers use right now, but this too could be expanded into new markets in the future, Haas tells us. Pricing is currently set at between $49 per month for a team of five people, ranging up to $400 per month for a team of 50 people.
While there are plenty of rivals on the market (Asana, Workmate and Redbooth, nee Teambox, for example) it’s the fully automated nature of the platform that makes it stand out. Balancing the needs of a team to interact with updates, expanding the product into new industries and keeping that core simplicity will likely be the key to its long-term success.
Featured Image Credit – Shutterstock