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Using Trello, Confluence or Basecamp? Time to check out Samepage.

January 29, 2020

Using Trello, Confluence or Basecamp? Time to check out Samepage.

Are your teams using one application for task management, another for storing documents, and third one for a chat? What if there was a product that combined these features?

What follows is my biased view. Our product, Samepage, offers this functionality. These days collaboration essentials consist of chat, documents, and task management. We believe these should live under one roof rather than be cobbled together from a collection of products from different vendors.

How we use Samepage ourselves

I'll try to show the benefits of an integrated product like Samepage on the following example.

For running projects, we use task boards. A task board (also known as Kanban) is a visual way to organize tasks into buckets (columns). These buckets typically represent some categories or workflows related to the project. As the project progresses, we move tasks from one bucket to another.

Here is an example of a task board document in Samepage:

The image above is a screenshot of a real task board that our developers use to run the product development cycle. The tasks in the buckets have names, descriptions, responsible persons, etc. They also typically contain references to discussions, brainstorming, and specific materials created before and during a task's lifecycle.

These references are what make Samepage special. For almost every non-trivial task, there was a prior discussion, brainstorming, and messages exchanged. Some text written on pages and re-edited numerous times, whiteboard images posted and updated.

Is information scattered all around? No more.

Where has all that happened?

In email? In Slack? In a Word file saved to a Dropbox folder? Or in a Word file emailed around so that you never knew where it was and if you had the latest version?

As you may have guessed, all that prior discussion, material gathering and brainstorming happened in Samepage. No email, no other app to open or check. All related material was in one place in Samepage.

Where exactly? For all that information gathering and discussion, we have an exceptional document type that we, unsurprisingly, call "Page." That's how our team gets on the "same page," pun intended. Here is a Samepage page example:

Let me explain how it works. A page has two key elements: the area on the left is for the content, and the one on the right is for the chat.

Page

The page content area is a co-editable canvas where team members capture notes, post feedback, screenshots, files, or anything related to the task at hand. Although we don't like to use this "word processing" analogy (because it misses the point of the page), it is like a GDoc (or Word doc for older folks).

While you may not want to write essays or books in Samepage, unlike Word or GDoc, Samepage is an excellent place for information gathering, collaborative editing, and publishing of information within your team. You can do anything from posting a meeting agenda, capture customer feedback, discuss and debate new product features, etc. The page is also a great tool to write and publish any kind of internal company's document, such as a process or policy description.

Chat

The chat area is where all the discussion happens. You are probably already familiar with standard chat from products like Slack.

Page + Chat = Samepage

But unlike in Slack, where everything is about chat and no content, every page in Samepage consists of content and associated chat. Team members can view content and conversation together. Often, content is shaped based on the conversation that is happening in the chat.

To give you an example, when we are discussing a product feature, someone first creates a page with an initial write-up and maybe adds some mockup images. The page may also contain links to pages where someone else captured feedback from our customers asking for this feature.

As other team members chime in, they start posting comments, argue about stuff, and make numerous edits to the page. The page content evolves, and after multiple iterations, the team arrives at a document that represents a full feature specification, including pixel-precise screenshots. From there, we create tasks with references to this page.

The important thing is that Samepage preserves all this key context on the page, together with the conversation that had happened when the content was being created. It is easy for anyone on the team to go back and review the material and messages that led to it.

There is absolutely no way this could have happened as efficiently in Email, Slack, or Trello.

Feedback from a customer

Lastly, I want to share a story of one of our long-time customers. She uses Samepage for content and chat, and until recently, she used Trello for task management. Most of the information her team creates is in Samepage. From this information, her team was creating tasks in Trello. That meant constant juggling and switching both apps.

When we launched the first version of team boards in Samepage, we lacked some rather basic functionality. It was a bare-bones implementation, but we thought it was good enough for people to start playing with it. To our surprise, this customer switched from Trello to Samepage boards on day one. While she was aware of the shortcomings, the benefits of having all of her material under one roof outweighed the loss of some functionality.

Since then, we have added the missing functionality, but this episode alone was such an inspiration and validation that our vision is right.

If your team struggles to use several apps from different vendors, please check out Samepage. We would love to help to get your team to be, literally, on SamePage.

This article is by Martin Viktora, co-founder of Samepage.