AtTask—Enabling Enterprise Work Management in the Cloud

Cloud-based social project management solution providers seem to be doing quite well of late, at least based on AtTask’s upbeat results. The Lehi, Utah-based provider of software as a service (SaaS) enterprise work management (EWM) solutions recently announced results for fiscal 2013 with 50 percent year-over-year subscription growth, as well as a whopping 410 percent year-over-year subscription growth of the AtTask Marketing Work Cloud. Results for all key business metrics exceeded targets and established new records—recurring subscriptions within the AtTask client base expanded by 63 percent, renewal rates significantly improved to new record levels, and new business subscriptions grew by 42 percent.
AtTask also recently announced that it has closed on a growth round of capital, raising a total of $38 million. This financing round, led by JMI Equity, is envisioned to help accelerate the company’s acquisition of market share and product innovation to deliver more targeted work management solutions for enterprise work teams.

AtTask Past and Present
Unlike many other point tools in the market, AtTask Enterprise Work Cloud is a centralized easy-to-adopt EWM solution for managing and collaborating on all types of work through the entire work lifecycle, which improves team productivity and executive visibility. AtTask is employed by thousands of global enterprises, including Adobe, Cisco, HBO, Kellogg’s, House of Blues, REI, Trek, Schneider Electric, Tommy Hilfiger, Disney, and ATB Financial. The company has nearly 1,500 clients overall, with nearly 110,000 individual users (the individual user count does not include Collaboration users such as external partners). Over 1,200 clients use the project portfolio management (PPM) product, with about 90,000 individual users for PPM.
Scott Johnson founded AtTask in 2001, and Eric Morgan joined AtTask as CEO in 2011. AtTask is headquartered on the “Silicon Slopes” of Utah (the cluster of information technology and software development firms in the cities located along the Wasatch Range) with over 400 employees in offices around the globe. The company started as a tool for marketers and creative teams, and then focused on project management companywide. In early 2013, AtTask shifted focus from small- to mid-sized companies to larger enterprise companies with work teams larger than 500 (in agencies) and larger than 2,500 in other sectors, as it wanted to provide wall-to-wall solutions for enterprise teams. AtTask is used by organizations that encompass a wide range of sizes, verticals, and geographies, and the solution is particularly relevant to enterprise companies with more than 2,500 employees that are trying to manage work that is frequent, repeatable, and requires a high degree of collaboration.
The company is growing at a steady rate in the marketing work management segment and forecasts that trend to continue for 2014. AtTask has seen a big need in the marketing sector, reflected in a drastic increase in its customer base in 2013 in this sector. AtTask is thus dedicating a large portion of its internal team to this segment in 2014. The company has about 290 employees in North America (headquartered in Lehi, UT, with an additional office in Minneapolis, MN) and 60 employees in EMEA (at a sales office in the U.K., and an additional office in Yerevan, Armenia). The product currently supports English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Chinese (Traditional), Chinese (Simplified), and Japanese.

AtTask’s Well-rounded Suite of Capabilities
AtTask has a well-rounded suite of capabilities to manage projects and portfolios from inception to completion and evaluation. Projects can be created from scratch or from a business case builder tool, and portfolio optimizer tools help evaluate planned projects to ensure maximum return on investment (ROI) based on custom ranking criteria. AtTask provides Gantt charts, calendars, and custom reports to enable the management of all aspects of portfolios, projects, and tasks. Resources can be managed via teams, groups, and job roles, and can be assigned to projects and tasks based on availability and skill set. Resource budgeting, utilization reporting, and capacity planning tools aim to help resource managers to appropriately allocate human capital and other resources to all projects within AtTask (see Figure 1).

Figure 1
In the AtTask suite, what-if scenarios can be viewed and analyzed by adjusting resources, timelines, projects, tasks, and predecessors in a temporary project state where the changes can then be chosen or rejected. Many customers also use copied projects (past projects or project templates) or sandbox environments for what-if scenarios. AtTask has extensive capabilities to allow external and internal users to submit, review, and modify requests. Reports can be made available to show requests or any other information within the system, shown or sorted by any criteria. Different permission levels can be assigned to allow varying degrees of collaboration, and the request pages can be customized to meet the needs of virtually any type of request. In addition to request submissions and reporting, users can use the end-user portal for document sharing (uploading and downloading), document proofing, collaboration, and approval cycles on projects, tasks, issues, documents, and viewing calendars.
AtTask has workflow capabilities for all scenarios, from simple to complex. Phase-gate approvals, milestones, and review and approval processes can be configured to meet the exact needs of particular environments. A built-in digital proofing tool can be used to preview, comment on, and approve (or reject) documents—proofs can be made from most image files (including Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, PDF), documents (Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint), videos, audio, computer aided design (CAD), and simple and interactive SWF Adobe Flash format files.
Projects, tasks, issues, requests, and documents can be submitted and managed by configurable workflow rules at the project or portfolio level. At the portfolio level, projects can go through various stages and states, with workflow options and triggers based on portfolio and project settings. AtTask has built-in agile project management capabilities that can be used in isolation or together with waterfall or other traditional project management methodologies. When a team is marked as an “agile” team in AtTask, the teams can organize their work in a dedicated iteration workspace (if some project steps need to be repeated for better results, a process often associated with agile software development), and can assign story points, focus factors, and time box information to best manage their tasks. Tasks can also be broken down as needed, and all progress can be monitored via a burn-down chart. AtTask also has mobile apps available for iPhone, Android, and iPad platforms.

Integration with Microsoft
Many enterprises today are heavily invested in Microsoft technologies at the enterprise level, but are hampered by using multiple solutions to manage their work. AtTask has thus recently created integration scenarios with Microsoft solutions, now including SharePoint, to deliver seamless workflows for enterprise teams in a unified collaboration and work environment. Documents can be organized and shared with internal and external stakeholders, teams can keep all inline feedback, comments, and versions in the context of work, and documents and digital assets can be stored directly in AtTask.
Additionally, AtTask is integrated with both Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Project to enable customers to maximize their investments in those solutions, and gain visibility into the work the entire enterprise is doing. The AtTask integration with Outlook allows email to be part of a productive work management environment, a single place where teams can collaborate and manage all types of work—for example, teams can request work from others, and drag and drop emails to convert into work requests.

Conversation with AtTask’s Top Brass
With a major round of funding under its belt and a strong set of innovative work management offerings ahead, 2014 is already off to a strong start for AtTask. We recently gave the vendor’s executives a chance to further explain the product’s value prop.
TEC: Why do you think the market is in need of yet another social project management software provider like AtTask?
AtTask: Well, we are far more than just a “social software provider.” AtTask is an easy-to-use, single system for all work, not just projects. It connects people to work processes by managing everything in one place, eliminating the need for multiple point solutions, and providing collaboration in the context of work. AtTask provides teams, managers, and executives with complete, accurate visibility into all work, and data-driven insight into work performance—in an easy-to-access, digestible format. Also, AtTask creates the visibility enterprise teams need to eliminate waste (in terms of time and budget), project failure, non-strategic work, and other work inefficiencies, leaving more time to be productive.
TEC: Who are your major competitors and how do you fare versus them?
AtTask: We typically compete with the following two vendors:
  • Asana: The product also aims to organize work projects, but AtTask’s interface is more intuitive, based on social media-like features that are familiar to users, and that allow them to update in real time.
  • Clarizen: AtTask takes a more comprehensive approach to reaching its ideal user base, attracting not only project management team members and managers, but also executives and members of the C-suite.
TEC: What were the major highlights in 2013 (customer, partner, and functionality-wise), and what do you expect in 2014 and after, regarding demand for your solutions across different territories and product modules?
AtTask: Please see our press section for news highlights. In short, 2013 was our highest GAAP revenue since we began in 2001. We did some major integration work with SharePoint, Box, and Google Doc, and have created an iPad app. We have included a robust agile project management capability, and are expecting even larger growth in 2014.
TEC: Do you have anything else to add?
AtTask: We will be releasing two new capabilities soon, both of which are the first of their kind in the industry. At a high level, these two upgrades will give team leaders and members a quicker, easier, and more effective way to make the same data-driven work management choices that were previously only available using antiquated Gantt charts and complex resource planning interfaces. Workload Balancing is a new interface giving team leads a simple, graphical view of everything their team is working on, including work assignments, personal tasks, issues, and time off. Plus, it identifies team members who have too much on their plate and allows leaders to drag and drop work assignments across the team (see Figure 2). Rather than defaulting to the people they know best or those they have worked with in the past, Smart Assignments gives team leaders intelligent recommendations for each project task. Using robust data and powerful algorithms, Smart Assignments identifies the team member with the right role and skills to complete the task effectively—and the availability to do so on time (Figure 3).

Figure 2

Figure 3
Further Reading:
Clarizen-Bringing Social Collaboration to Project Management (Sept 2013)
Deltek Goes Social with Kona Business (Aug 2013)
Mavenlink Rounding Out Its Wares for Businesses of All Sizes (March 2013)
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