Central Desktop is web-based online collaboration software that allows you to manage projects and work with clients. It also allows you to create wikis, manage a blog and a user forum.
To get started, you can sign up at http://centraldesktop.com. This guide will cover some of the software’s most useful features.
When you log in, you’ll see Central Desktop’s main features:
As you can see, the program gives you plenty of options for managing tasks, projects and communicating with users. Let’s go through some of these features:
New Project Workspace
To get started, click “New Project Workspace” from the main page. You will enter the title of your project, a description and a unique URL for this workspace, making it easy for users to go directly to the project. You can also choose to have sample data included in your project, making it easier to use the workspace for your own purposes.
Once you’ve created the new workspace, you can navigate using the top menu:
Let’s walk through those functions.
Files & Discussions
This section allows you to upload files to your account and notify chosen users. The files are then searchable by keyword and tags. You can also add them to particular folders, for easier organization.
For “Discussion”, users can leave comments on a particular item.
You can change the subscribers of a particular file at any time, download it as a PDF, email the file and/or trash it anytime.
Tasks allows you to assign work to users and track the status. You can also upload files directly to this function. That way, the file will be attached to the task and users will also be able to search for it in the “Files” function.
As you can see above, you can:
• Assign the task to an individual or group.
• Copy someone on the task
• Attach files
• Make it a recurring task
• Set priority
• Add tags
This function allows you to track progress, manage multiple tasks and more. In our example, we’ve listed a number of tasks that need to be completed by a certain date and have assigned the milestone to a user who will be responsible for ensuring everything is complete.
With the calendar function, all your tasks, events and milestones will automatically appear, but you can choose to hide any of these.
You can also sync the calendar with Microsoft Outlook.
As you can see below, the calendar shows our tasks and milestones. It’s also easy to add a new event. When you put your mouse over a day, the words “New Event” appear. Just click the words and you can add the event.
This function allows you to add people to Central Desktop. Whether they are staff, contractors or even clients, you can add them and give them specific permissions, so they only access what they need to access.
You start by choosing internal or external members. You can also create internal groups, so when you’re working on a project together, you can assign tasks to multiple people.
Here is what the permissions screen looks like. You can assign a member to certain project, give them read/write/delete/modify permissions and more.
Under the “Settings” function, you’ll find an option for “Usage Reports”:
The reports you can view are:
We have chosen an “Activity Log Report” and it will give you a list of activities in a time period specified. You can exclude yourself from the search if you prefer to see what other users have been working on only.
The report also shows you which user completed each activity.
Other Features of Central Desktop
Beyond the basics of online collaboration, Central Desktop has some other features that might be useful for your company.
A basic Central Desktop account includes Web Meetings, but you can only invite one attendee to your meeting. There are upgrade options available, if you need to host larger meetings.
To use web meeting, participants will have to download the “WebMeeting” software.
The meeting allows you to communicate through text chat and web cam. You can also use a white board, record your meeting and more.
Wiki allows you to create a knowledge base for your company. Here is a quick peek at a sample Wiki. Topics are shown, in alphabetical order, on the left and pages can be viewed and edited on the right. You can assign subscribers to the Wiki, so they can edit it as well.
Blog and Forum
There are two more communication features available and that is the blog and forum. A blog allows for more directed conversation (specific users can post, while others can comment) and the forum allows for more free discussion any assigned user can post a new topic. Blog and forum posts can be categorized, for easier browsing, helping create a further knowledge base for your company.
Time allows users to record their time spent on specific tasks. This can help you track your expenses and also allow for accurate billing of your own clients.
At anytime, you can view your Dashboard that gives you an overview of upcoming events and recent activity.
Overall, Central Desktop is a powerful online collaboration and project management tool, but may include too many features for some users. The addition of Wikis, forums and blogs may create disjointed communication and make it overwhelming for users to make sense of projects. On the other hand, these features do not have to be activated and the admin can customize the features available in each project, so this may not be an issue.