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Workfront Review editorial staff, writer
| Updated
Jan 15, 2019
> Business Basics

By contracting with Workfront, you'd be joining customers such as House of Blues, Sony, REI, Dell and Cisco in trusting this online project management system to improve your processes, visibility and ROI. This company has notable experience with project management offices (PMOs) and IT teams. It recently acquired ProofHQ, one of the most popular online proofing solutions, to help it offer a more complete solution to creative and new product development teams as well. This company has been serving customers since 2001 as AtTask and last year rebranded as Workfront. While its headquarters are located in the U.S., offices are also present in the U.K., China and Japan to provide international support.



Project Management & Task Management Software Buying Guide

The Verdict

Few PM solutions for mid- and enterprise-level companies are this simple to use with such a high adoption rate. It is a market leader and well worth looking into to see how it can help your team.

Workfront project management solution is growing quickly, with a nearly 50 percent year-over-year subscription growth, and for good reason. Workfront puts a lot of effort into continually improving its product and is quite noticeably one of the easiest to use. While this project management solution supports traditional PM methodologies, it excels in what we call sideways communications, meaning that rather than taking just a top-down approach to managing projects, it supports the way many modern teams now work by facilitating peer-to-peer collaboration. It includes social media-style tools for transparent, project-focused communications and technologies for interacting with internal and external stakeholders. Unlike many online PM solutions, it supports online proofing of digital media such as images, artwork and marketing designs.

Workfront offers role-based licenses that are priced by the year. As with most services, you'll receive the lowest prices if you pay in advance and contract for more than one year. Work licenses for team members are $360 per year, and plan licenses for team leaders are $720 per year. Collaboration licenses, which offer limited access, are available as well. To obtain pricing for implementation and training, you'll need to request a quote. This project management software is cross-platform compatible, and you can manage work away from your desk using an iOS or Android tablet or phone.

Projects can be created on the fly within seconds, or you can utilize templates or clone projects to create new projects. Workfront can also be configured to create projects directly from a request. It supports traditional methodologies such as Waterfall and Agile projects as well as customized processes. Its Gantt charts are highly interactive. You can plan out project tasks, resource allocation, schedules and milestones right from the Gantt view. Most items can be drilled down into for more information, and schedules can be quickly altered as issues arise. It can work with customized holiday and PTO schedules, and it has no problem working across time zone changes.

Workfront includes powerful yet simple-to-use resource management features and capacity planners. You can search for resources not just by availability but also by skill or other detail. Managers can drag and drop assignments between resources, and a resource's assignments and schedules can be color-coded so managers can easily discern exactly what the resource is working on, including non-project work.

Customers who require HIPAA, PCI DSS, FISMA, SOX or other compliance regulation can use Workfront with the confidence that data will be secure. At rest and in transfer, data is protected with 256-bit encryption, and system status and maintenance information is available for viewing at any time by visiting If your IT team wants to manage the software within your own network, an on-premise version is available.

Workfront has technologies in place for you to control the access of data. The first level is by creating profiles with access to only specific areas of the system. For example, you may block team members from seeing financial information. You can also protect specific items and documents for viewing. The system supports SAML 2.0 single sign-on technologies to help manage complex passwords.

Since portfolio management and project prioritization sets introductory products apart from more advanced PM systems, we talked quite extensively with Workfront about what its product had to offer. Firstly, it can manage multiple projects simultaneously, including resources and dependencies across more than one project. Accounts can be broken into groups so that more than one team can use the system. It is simple to set up executive or stakeholders views, which include high-pass project information so they can help make project decisions without being overloaded with minute project details.

It can easily manage project requests as they are submitted, and it can manage customizable scoring metrics that can be used to help managers pick the best projects to take on and schedule them in the optimal manner possible. Data such as projected ROI and alignment can automatically be configured. Setting your business alignment priorities is simple: You just adjust each priority area using a slider based on how important it is to business goals. For portfolio optimization, it can show managers in one view what percent of projects meet their alignment targets, and it will order them by which ones are best aligned. You can also sort projects by risk, cost, status or other value.

Workfront includes a long list of built-in reports to help you ensure that your product or service is ready for delivery and to help you organize lessons learned in an organized and useful manner. It can easily configure and run unassigned tasks, open items and open issues to help managers see areas that need to be addressed before the project is delivered. It can also run financial, budget and cost reports that can be exported to an accounting system. Reports can be configured to discover problem areas so that future projects can be planned better. Any type of custom report can be configured and saved for later use as well. Custom fields can be utilized to track unique information. Basically any type of report can be run. Projects can easily be archived once they are complete, and they can be retrieved later for cloning or reference.

Workfront scored the highest in ease of use with both our administrator and team-member testers. We found all basic project manager tasks, such as creating projects, adding resources, adding tasks and entering budget information, to be easy to accomplish. Many processes can be automated, such as approvals and workflows. Adjusting schedules is a cinch, which can take a lot of stress away from managers previously burdened with tedious scheduling tasks. Many Workfront customers report that, after implementing this project management system, they have increased their productivity, decreased the number of other systems and workarounds used, increased on-time delivery, and increased the number of projects they are able to take on.

Our team-member testers were able to complete their testing tasks quicker with this software than with most of the others. In fact, one tester was able to create a task, add a comment and upload an associated file in 51 seconds. Over the long run, being able to quickly complete tasks will noticeably add up so that resources can spend more time on project work rather than wrestling with tedious tracking processes. While we always recommend that customers take advantage of training opportunities, it is useful to know that most routine team-member tasks can be figured out without extensive training. This shows how simple and intuitive the software is. Testers found the mobile tools also relatively simple to use; however, some didn't like the black background that the tablet interface uses for reporting. They found the white background easier on the eyes.

Workfront provides some level of integration with numerous business systems, including Outlook, document management and collaboration tools. Users can perform many tasks directly from Outlook, such as submitting requests and managing work. All Outlook communications are tracked within the system. To help manage documents, it can share data with box, Dropbox, Google Drive, Google Docs and SharePoint. It also works with ExactTarget, Salesforce and Jira. For integrated business social media, it communicates with Jive, and ProofHQ for online proofing. In the Workfront Marketplace, you can see other systems that may also integrate with Workfront. RESTful APIs and development tools are available for creating custom integrations.

The professional services offered are extensive and highly customized. Workfront is highly committed to your success and has resources available to help, from the discovery phase through the long-term success phase. One of the things we have learned is that the discovery and design phase are critical. Workfront representatives will take the time to help you define your processes, workflow, hierarchy and business goals to configure the system to work exactly how you need it to. After it is configured, they will take quite a bit of time to train the project manager on how to use the system. Train-the-trainer, onsite training, team-member training and executive training is also available. Like most new implementations, the discovery-to-deployment phase could take around six weeks depending on everyone's schedules. After deployment, they will perform periodic checkups and help you tweak the system to optimize its performance. You will be given a single point of contact who will manage your account and connect you with other Workfront support persons if needed. The first year of support is required and will cost a bit more than the ongoing support package, but it is well worth it to help ensure success and maximum use of the system.

This is another area where you'll see Workfront best the competition. This project management software includes numerous tools to provide clear yet exhaustive communication and collaboration opportunities. It is also one of the few that includes online proofing for marketing or creative teams. Processes such as issues, approvals, workflows and change requests can automatically be managed, and automated project statuses can limit time wasted with check-ins and status meetings. It includes tools for managing documents with multiple versions. Ad hoc reports can be run at any time, and the project manager's dashboard shows areas of concern that might need to be addressed to keep the project on target. Resources can enter time worked online or using their mobile device. Of course, work requests and project updates can easily be managed directly through Outlook to save everyone time and effort.

Workfront provides the perfect balance between function and ease of use. It is a quickly growing company that continues to evolve its product and add education specialists to support its growing client base. It supports all types of PM methodologies and styles, provides a high level of visibility, and includes advanced collaboration tools, making it an excellent contender for your short list of prospects.



Project Management & Task Management Software Buying Guide

The Verdict

Few PM solutions for mid- and enterprise-level companies are this simple to use with such a high adoption rate. It is a market leader and well worth looking into to see how it can help your team. editorial staff editorial staff
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