Companies and users
Every installation of ProjectPier has one owner. This is usually a company, but it can be a single person as well (eg. a freelance web designer). If it is a company, you can add employees of this company as users to ProjectPier. Users of the owner company are either administrators or standard users; depending on the context we refer to them as members.
The owner company has one or more client companies. Of course you can add employees of the client companies as ProjectPier users as well. Employees of a client company are always standard users (they can’t get administrator privileges). If you happen to have partners or subcontractors you will treat them as client companies in ProjectPier.
Users have a profile (containing their contact information), a login (user name and password) and an avatar (picture). All this information is stored in the user’s account. Users also have detailed permissions regarding what they are allowed to do in a specific project. Speaking of roles, there are only three of them, as mentioned above: 1. owner company employee with administration privileges 2. owner company employee 3. client company employee.
The most important item in ProjectPier is of course a project. Most detail information like messages, tasks, milestones, and files are related to a specific project. However, users can have access to several projects, no matter whether they are employees of the owner company or of a client company. This makes it possible that ProjectPier users can work on several projects at a time and that employees of different companies can collaborate on the same project. If we are talking about users working on a specific project we sometimes refer to them as people.
Unlike some other project management solutions ProjectPier does not offer a forum for discussions among users. Instead there are messages, which are published within your ProjectPier website and sent by e-mail to users you specify. Since users can comment on messages this is very much the same functionality a forum can offer, but you will experience it more like a blog. The author of a message can declare it as private (only visible to members of the owner company) or important. It is even possible to link a message to a milestone or to attach files to it.
The most common use of ProjectPier is to manage tasks. Tasks are organised in task lists, and every project can have as many task lists as you need. You may want to use individual task lists for each phase of your project, or you can use task lists to divide a complex task into several sub-tasks. Each task can be assigned to a company or a single user. Making a task list private means that only employees of the owner company can see it, which makes it easy to hide tasks from a client if you wish to do so.
Tasks tell people what to do – milestones tell them when something is due. A milestone is just a date with a title and a description, but you can assign task lists and messages to a milestone. This gives ProjectPier the necessary information to remind the project team if something is overdue. Also milestones can be defined as private which makes them invisible to a client. Assigning a milestone to a company helps making someone responsible for a specific milestone. ProjectPier offers you to automatically send an e-mail to this user to make him aware of his duty.
ProjectPier allows you to store files in a folder structure. In a way this is a simple document management system since it offers the functionality to store several revisions of the same file. Working with revisions lets you keep track of changes and makes it possible to go back to an earlier version of a document if necessary. Users can comment on files as well and even attach their own files to it.
Tagging is a quite common feature these days: It allows users to organise information by adding self-created keywords rather than storing information in a predefined hierarchical structure. Tags are a standard feature in ProjectPier: You can tag messages, task lists, milestones, and files.
A feature which is quite unique in a project management solution are forms. They allow you to create a single field form that adds its content either as a comment to a message or as a task to a task list you specify. Forms are especially handy to collect feedback from a group of people and bring that feedback into your project workflow. You can even establish a very basic issue tracker by using forms.