While other software companies are trying to offer the One True App for project management, Monday.com is moving in the opposite direction.
Monday has just launched a new form-building app called Workforms and a collaborative whiteboard app called Canvas. While they each can integrate with Monday’s flagship project management software, they’re both standalone products with their own pricing, development teams, and roadmaps.
The approach stands in contrast to rivals such as Airtable and Asana, which have focused on building monolithic project management tools with an expanding array of capabilities. It’s also an answer, of sorts, to modern document editors such as Notion and Coda, which have gradually fashioned themselves into all-in-one tools for project management.
Eran Zinman, Monday.com’s co-CEO, says that, by offering different tools for different jobs, the company can make each product better while attracting customers who otherwise might not have considered the company’s software.
“The fact that each one is independent will allow us to go deep into each one of them . . . and also capture new audiences,” he says.
Monday.com started with forms and whiteboards because both are gaining traction among businesses and make sense as standalone products. Zinman notes that people often search online for new ways to create forms and whiteboards, so it’s an opportunity to draw in users who aren’t yet looking for full-blown project management tools.
After all, Monday.com proper doesn’t always offer instant gratification. While its array of interactive charts, graphs, and dashboards can be powerful, the software involves an extensive onboarding process, and figuring out the best way to use it can take time. The new apps are a way to start with something simpler.
“Now that we have these unique, independent tools, it just helps with the onboarding,” Zinman says. “You know exactly what you’re aiming for.”
Zinman also notes that offering the two apps outside of the Monday.com platform has some technological benefits. In Canvas, for instance, the team was able to focus on supporting up to 100 collaborators at a smooth 60 frames per second. Not being tied to Monday’s core service made that easier.
“I think it wouldn’t be possible if we built it within the platform, because we have all those constraints of using our existing technology,” he says.
Right now, both of the new apps are fairly basic. Workforms, for instance, offers just four templates, versus the hundreds provided by competitor Typeform. Canvas provides only a bare-bones set of tools for drawing lines, boxes, and shapes; some alternatives, such as Miro, offer ready-made templates and a wider range of drawing tools, while Figma’s Figjam whiteboards support charts and code blocks.
But Roy Mann, Monday.com’s other co-CEO, says the company is committed to improving the products over time, and he stresses that each team has complete autonomy. The new products are “like startups within Monday,” he says. “They have everything they need to run separately, move fast, and make improvements.”
To bundle or unbundle
Even if they’re independent in some ways, both products will still lean on integration with the core Monday.com platform—what the company calls its “Work OS”—to stand out.
In Workforms, for instance, users can view form responses in a table that’s powered by Monday itself, and they can pull the chart directly into Monday for further collaboration. Users can also tie charts into Monday’s automation tools–for instance, to send notifications when someone fills out a new form entry. While Monday is fine with people using Workforms and Canvas on their own, Zinman believes they’ll eventually gravitate toward the broader platform.
“People are often very specific about what they need initially, and over time they want more aspects, which they’ll discover through the ability move between different things that we offer,” Zinman says.
The resulting strategy looks somewhat like that of Google and Microsoft, but in reverse. Those tech giants spent years building up successful suites of productivity tools, and are now trying to make them feel less siloed from one another. Monday, meanwhile, is starting with a monolithic project management tool and branching into new apps. (In a nod to the app grid that appears on Google’s websites, Workforce and Canvas even have an icon in the top-right corner for switching between the company’s products.)
While some of Monday’s competitors are still focused on one app that does everything, Zinman argues that this won’t last. In addition to citing Microsoft and Google as examples, he points to Atlassian—which acquired Trello in 2017 to complement its Jira, Confluence, and Bitbucket products—as an example of how companies will eventually want to branch out.
“I think it’s more of a phase,” he says of companies offering just one app. “Over time, I think more players that will be able to grow significantly will build a more complete ecosystem.”