10,000ft is a sister firm to Artefact, a contract product development firm based in Seattle. 10,000ft CEO Martijn van Tilburg is a user experience designer who formerly served as Artefact's senior design director and earlier in his career worked on the design of Microsoft Office and SharePoint. When the contract product designers succumbed to the temptation to build their own product, they started with one they found useful for organizing their own work.
Described as "less about the day to day task management, more about strategic, long term resource planning," 10,000ft is easy to see as part of a broader trend of focusing social software on getting work done, along with software services like Do.com and Asana.
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"Philosophically, tools like Asana and 10,000ft overlap," van Tilburg said. "They also think that as teams get more distributed, work will get done in online teams and groups. But we are thinking more in terms of a high-level plan recorded in 10,000ft, as opposed to day-to-day work planned out for team members." You can post your status in 10,000ft, as you can with many other social tools, but it's meant to be a tool you might use a couple of times a day to update your work progress, rather than something you stay logged into all day, he said. "We want to make the planning aspect as lightweight as possible so you have more time to actually do the work."
10,000ft provides a timeline view of who is working on what, but it's not as detailed as the Gantt charts used in project management. Rather, it's intended to give an overview of who is available and who is busy, with drag-and-drop controls for stretching or squeezing the length of an assignment or reassigning people from one job to another. Individuals sign into the tool to record their time, in a manner that makes it easy for them to confirm they worked the block of time they had been budgeted for or record any variance. For those working against billable time, or an internal billing rate, the system can then cost out their time. A supervisor or project manager can look at the sums of the time and cost records to quickly see if a project is over budget or behind schedule.
"A typical scenario is a project is in trouble and we need another resource. This lets us see, 'do we have someone available or we need to hire someone,'" said Jeff Gelfuso, product and strategy leader for 10,000ft.
As of a briefing a few weeks ago, 10,000ft claimed to have about 1,600 users signed up for 30-day trials and it is just started converting them to customers. Accounts range from $50 per month for 10 users to $800 per month for 100 users, with deals negotiable for larger organizations.
Every company needs a social networking policy, but don't stifle creativity and productivity with too much formality. Also in the debut, all-digital Social Media For Grownups issue of The BrainYard: The proper tools help in setting social networking policy for your company and ensure that you'll be able to follow through. (Free with registration.)