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Editor's Note: Backpack has been retired and is currently only available for those with pre-existing accounts. This article has been archived but left up for informational purposes.
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For project managers working with spread out team members, the web based project management program, Backpack, can be a useful tool. Team members have access to a shared calendar, task lists and files. Those are, after all, the qualities of good project management software.
There are a few aspects of Backpack that take it from good to great, though. The biggest asset for Backpack is the pages function. Pages are ideal for both entirely separate projects and for separate aspects of individual projects.
With one-click, you can put just about any part of your project on the appropriate page: meeting agendas, task lists, photos, notes — you can even add files so that your team members don’t have to go hunting around to find a crucial piece of information. The page system is highly adaptable with a shallow learning curve. Even if some members of your team struggle with the computer, you’ll be able to explain pages in Backpack.
In addition to pages, Backpack has integrated communications and scheduling. The calendar tool is easy to use, and can be exported to any other calendar you use (Outlook, Google Calendar, etc.).
The messaging tool — called the Newsroom — may be a significant shift if you’re used to email, but for group communication, it’s an improvement. Posting a message to your project’s Backpack allows every member to see it — no worries that an email accidentally went to spam. Furthermore, the Newsroom lists recent changes to your pages. You can see at a glance how your project is progressing.
Backpack offers a number of options, allowing project managers working with smaller groups to save some money. There are three different levels of Backpack commitment: Pro ($99 per month), Plus ($49 per month) and Basic ($24 per month).
The price correlates to how much space on Backpack’s servers you will have access to, as well as the number of user accounts you can set up for members of your group. The Basic plan limits you to 6 users while the Pro account allows you up to 40 users. There is also a Backpack plan for only one user — the Solo Plan, costing $7 per month.