The collaboration service Wrike is rolling out today. It's an online task database for groups, with a special power: You can enter shared tasks just by e-mailing people and copying to email@example.com.
That is about the easiest way I can imagine to create and assign tasks. It's even easier than using Outlook's own Tasks list, which actually is not a bad task manager for small work groups (it's awful, though, if you're trying to work with somebody who's not on your Exchange server).
I also like the way Wrike signs up new users: When you send somebody a message and cc Wrike, the recipient is automatically signed up. The system sends them a follow-up message with a temporary password and a link that gets them on the system in no time. This makes Wrike very viral, which is not something you often see in a business application.
Once logged in to the Wrike site, you're supposed to be able to do a lot more with your tasks: Put them in categories and groups, sort by due date, attach files, and so on. Those features weren't showing up for me in the beta today, though.
Wrike reminds me of Smartsheet, which I covered last week. Both products have fairly straightforward interfaces to group task lists, and they use e-mail very effectively. Smartsheet doesn't (yet) have Wrike's cool assign-by-e-mail feature, but both systems can send alerts to taskmasters (and task watchers) via e-mail.
Wrike was a hit at Le Web 3 conference in Paris this week, according to my spy there, Cathy Brooks of the Guidewire Group. Also, the Wrike team has a video demo that reviews some of the features not yet in the public beta.