Keep the Team on the Beam
By Dave Raffo
Team Manager 97 is Microsoft's new workgroup management application that fits neatly into the Office 97 environment and provides a way to control collaborative work. The program, officially part of the Office 97 family of products but sold separately, integrates with e-mail, Office and Microsoft Project to help keep team members and managers up-to-date on joint activities.
Team Manager ($99 per seat; 5-pack license, $469) is task-oriented, based on the deadlines and priorities that are set by and for team members. In this manner, it differs considerably from project managers such as Microsoft Project, which is based on a critical path methodology. Team Manager can work hand-in-hand with Outlook, Microsoft's new desktop information manager. It effectively extends Outlook's reach and turns it into a front end for group task management. Workgroup members can add and update their tasks via Outlook which will, in turn, funnel the information to Team Manager's master task list.
The program consolidates each team member's task information and status, and password-protects the information so nobody outside the team can access it except the manager. Team Manager consolidates status reports from individuals, and its Best-Fit Scheduling feature helps determine whether members can complete their work within deadlines. If a member falls behind, Team Manager prioritizes tasks to help get the member back on track. The program can also be used to create goal reports and to organize information for employee evaluations.