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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Alternatives to

Our organisation uses, or rather, it did until the founders sold the company to SalesForce. Whilst they are "excited" about this news (whilst pocketing a few quid no doubt), it does leave those of us using their technology - well - a bit buggered.

You see, they are discontinuing the service. As soon as the calendar hits 25th July, 2012, they will wipe out the data. Lord knows why SalesForce doesn't want to keep the data, and just keep the service going, but it doesn't. So we are in a bit of a pickle.

Having looked for alternatives, I was quite shocked at how few there are on the market. Thinkfuse is so simple, so laughably simple, that I would have thought there would be loads of alternatives. It is basically a fairly poor web editor where you write up a report every week for your manager. You get some reminder emails, and the manager gets a nice dashboard to view your reports. Well, a simple dashboard at any rate.

If I were Theo on Dragon's Den, I'd be thinking "barrier to entry - zero - I'm out...". But it seems this market has passed by many web types. There are lots of heavy weight online tools out there, which have status reporting as part of projects, but not many that have team status updates.

Here's some I have found:

This seems to be a recent tool, and is currently running in beta. This means it's free to sign up, although once it exits beta it will be a paid for service.

There is a short video tour that shows you around the product.

It is different to Thinkfuse in that team members submit their reports via email (in Thinkfuse there is a web-based interface to do this). Two emails are sent; one for "Things achieved" and a second for "Things planned". This many be a good way for your team to do this, if they are wedded to email, but if you are trying to encourage more collaborative tools, perhaps it's not for you.

The manager can then view a rather nice PDF report, that really looks quite flashy. It would certainly be very good to forward on to senior management "as is".
Of course, getting it to look that good for you will need nice photos of your team (tough if you run a development team) and a bit of design flair. Still, it's a good thing to have.

There are also iPhone and iPad interfaces if that floats your boat, as well as standard web interfaces.

This site is a bit more organised than Thinkfuse and Weeklydebrief. Employees are encouraged to organise their activities into categories, shown in the screen shot below:
As you can see, there are Goals, Tasks and Accomplishments. You can add your company's logo to the dashboard, as set preferences to see the information how it best suits you.

It's not too clear on the website how it works, but it appears that status reports are centred around the information in these three categories.

Again, different from the more freestyle entry in Thinkfuse, but may suit some better.

There is a short video to watch, to try and glean more information.

This is also in beta, which means it's free but is limited to 10 users in a team. It will convert to a paid for service at some point.

If you scan to the comments below, you can see Shane  @ 15five got in touch suggesting his company's product. I checked out their website, and it didn't help me much, but have found some good reviews on the web which helped figure the product out.

15five is based on a simple concept; it should take team members up to 15 minutes to write their report and a manager 5 minutes to read it. The manager assigns questions which can be one line answer, multi line answers and so on. The employee gets an email notification and fills in the report on the web. The manager has a dashboard and can then review them.

There is an emphasis in hierarchies too. So in our example, once the manager gets his reports, he can submit a report to his director, who then submits his report to the CEO. That's quite a neat idea.

There is a 4 week trial period and the price is $99 a month for up to 20 employees.

For more information check out an thorough report over at appstorm and also an article from a real-life user over on the Inc. website. Also, email Shane who I'm sure would be happy to help out.

Many thanks to Scott who posted a comment telling me about his solution over at

Teamly gets you to enter your top 5 daily, weekly and monthly priorities (great for fans of the Nick Hornby novel High Fidelity!). Managers can see all the priorities set. Comments can be recorded by both managers and their reports. Priorities can be made private.

There is an ability to mark priorities according to their status, so the manager can see what everyone is doing. There is some basic reporting packaged too. For a user workflow, check out A video tour is available from the home page.

There is a free to use, ad supported option or to remove the ads and access some more features for $8/mth per user.

I can see this being a good solution for some, but for others, it could feel like micro-managing if a boss insists on daily goal setting. The red / amber / green colour coding might induce panic in some employees, which might be a good or a bad thing!!

A word on the website - it's good and the information is well laid out - but strangely no menu options are available from the home page. Click through into the tour, and you get menu options for the pricing, testimonials, etc.


I was also asked to check out siasto. It doesn't have the greatest website in the world, and what was quite odd was that in one screenshot someone seemed to be sharing with their team that they were going to fire someone. I suspect this breaks several EU working laws!

Anyhow, the tool does appear to be very project-oriented, so probably not for us.

Someone also recommended workflowy. This is a real "marmite" tool - people either love it or hate it. It seems most suited to keeping personal lists and sharing with friends/colleagues, rather than sharing them within a team hierachy. If you like lists, take a look. If you like mindmaps - avoid. It's not suited to replacing Thinkfuse, in my view, but you may think different.

I did look at binfire, but it is far too project-oriented and I also took a brief look at estatusreports, but it is software and quite complex, so not a simple, online tool.


Initially I found two comparable services, but as this blog has been read other services have been suggested. There still isn't a like-for-like competitor. which still amazes me, considering how successful Thinkfuse was. Whilst Thinkfuse was great, it was pretty simple and very easy to replicate better than they did it. Now it has gone the way of the Dodo, there is room for a simple tool to replace it.

The market seems to want to focus on helping people organise their worklists, rather than allow a sort-of brain dump. As such, there aren't any like-for-like replacements I can recommend. You are best checking out the ones above you think might be interesting and exploring from there, recognising they all force some kind of structured thinking.

Please let me know if you have any further alternatives. I'd love to hear about them!

N.B Company Websites

Small rant. Throughout this investigation, I have been amazed at how poor some of these websites were. All I wanted was some screenshots, some words on the features, maybe a short video, a pricing plan and a link to some reviews or testimonials. Only weeklydebrief and teamly actually had this (and teamly's is hidden!). The rest required looking for reviews on Google, or trying to work out from other articles how the thing worked. The websites were mainly moody photos and little content, insisting your signed up to see more.

Not everyone wants to sign up for a free trial just to see how a solution works!

Rant over...


  1. Hi Duke,

    Just came across your post and wanted to let you know about my company which is what we believe a great product that fits this niche. Check us out at
    If you'd like to learn more email me at
    I'd also love to learn what you were searching for when you googled for alternatives so we can optimize our SEO.

    Thanks a bunch!

    1. Hi Shane,

      Thanks for getting in touch. To be honest, your website doesn't say too much about your product, but what I can see is that it doesn't appear to have the open status report format that Thinkfuse has. The website needs clear screen shots, a typical user journey or a video, all of which the others have.

      The search terms I used were many, but the ones that spring to mind are "thinkfuse alternatives" and "team status report".

    2. Thanks Duke! I appreciate you adding us to the list of alternatives. We got way more attention from the Inc article than anticipated and the content on our website has suffered. I'm happy to say we're starting to clear some bandwidth and are putting more attention on the educational aspects. I don't take your rant lightly and agree that more transparent content would go a long way.

      Many thanks,

  2. Another option is the product my company has built, Teamly:

    Teamly ask employees to record their top objectives, and automate the reporting of those for management. Teamly is a practical, everyday tool that helps the end-user get work done. They can use it not just to plan long-term objectives for the month and quarter, but also use it every day and week as well.

    There's a video on our homepage:

    And there's also some screenshots here:

  3. We've built Weekdone as the most simple and easy to use team and employee weekly status reports service. It's the most zen reporting tool ever. We set out to build something really loved by employees, not something managers have to push on people. The users have found that one of the key aspects is team communication, both making sure others know what you're doing as well as giving comments and getting feedback from others inside Weekdone.

    Managers have found they can save 5-10 hours per month just from not having to chase people to send in their reports and from removing all the unnecessary back-and-forth e-mailing and inbox overload.

    We use a best practice process called PPP (Progress, Plans and Problems). It's something used by the likes of Skype and Facebook or startup accelerators like Seedcamp.
    - Progress describes last week’s achievements and finished items
    - Plans list goals and objectives for this week
    - Problems are challenges, stuck and delayed plans
    - Ideally a maximum of 5 items per section