Collaboration as a team is full of challenges. It requires professionals to be kept fully informed, to have access to the files and documents needed and to know what work they are accountable for completing.
In today’s world, it couldn’t be easier to collaborate in business and without the need for travel and expenses.
The internet has opened a world of opportunity for working from wherever business needs to be done and with whoever is essential to the process.
But with choice comes difficulty in knowing what is best. Here we will explore the ten collaboration tools for business that might work best for you.
Of course, what is best is subjective, and it depends on what suits your style and your project.
But, before introducing potential tools, it is essential to consider the differences in collaboration platforms and what they aim to achieve.
Different Types of Collaboration Platforms
Gantt Charts are spreadsheet like charts that run as a timeline.
Cells can be shaded and rows created to represent parts of the whole project. These charts are useful for time-sensitive projects that run from a calendar.
Each task is laid out and runs end to end with other activities within the project, with the option of setting up dependencies.
It allows you to keep an overview of the project and share dates and tasks with others. Other people in the team can also see how their portion of the project relates to others in the timeline.
If you have a workflow that goes in certain stages, then a Kanban chart may be a better option. Here there are tickets or cards represent the stage.
There is then the option to move items or objects along the workflow, from card to card.
Team members who are responsible for specific part of the workflow can, therefore, click on a card to see what they need to do and how they need to proceed.
To Do Lists
To do lists are exactly as it sounds: a list of things that need to be done.
This option is a straightforward task allocation tool, with the possibility of indicating who should complete the task and by when.
If your teamwork based on direct tasks to be completed, then to do lists are the most precise way to communicate with your team.
The final option is to go for collaboration in “face-to-face” meetings via online video meetings or audio conversation, with the option to share your screen.
Message and Chat Functions
Finally, there is the option of a message board and chat options that allow for collaboration in real-time.
Platforms tend to have a mix of formal and informal messaging features, but mostly this is a means of preventing messages getting lost in private email inboxes or ideas lost in long, incomprehensible threads.
The Best Collaboration Platforms
This is a project management software that has an overview screen of all teams and then individual areas, or camps, for each team.
It’s a platform with many collaboration features, including to-do lists, message and chat boards and file sharing. It draws together a lot of the different collaboration features together in one place, avoiding the need to integrate various software to achieve the same ends.
The lack of video conferencing may be an issue, but there is Campfire, an instant message feature that allows real-time communication.
Trello uses Kanban charts to organise your workflow. Within each card, you can create lists, in which you can attach documents and send messages to each file. You can also create checklists.
The platform integrates with Slack and with Google Drive, to aid collaboration.
The huge benefit of this platform is that it is free for the most part and the workflow of a single project is visualised for all to see.
Slack is a chat app essentially but makes an excellent replacement for email for the whole team. All messages are visible for those with permission to access the channel.
There is the option to start threads within channels, which acts to organise messages in a way that email can’t.
There are integration options with Trello and Google Docs, meaning that most collaboration can happen on the platform. You can also share files and images.
Zoom offers video and audio conferencing options, with the opportunity to screen share.
The meetings are free for 40 minutes for up to 50 participants, and there is no limit on the number of sessions you can start. This means that if everyone accepts there will be a short break at 40 minutes, then you can keep going.
The platform can be used on desktops and mobile devices. On top of this, there is an instant messaging tool and file sharing.
Teamviewer is collaboration in a slightly different, but no less useful way.
It allows someone to access your desktop and from there the applications and data.
This has obvious benefits when needed an IT technician to work in your settings but can also allow one team member to demonstrate to another the idea or action that they would like to progress.
There is also functionality for the holding of meetings, presentations and training sessions.
For a lot of companies, Facebook offers safeguarding and security issues that make it necessary for it to ask employees to stay away.
Yammer is a replacement that looks much like Facebook, with the option to have profiles, status updates, like and comments – however, it is limited to your company.
The standard service is free, but with the purchase of the paid plan, there is the option for advanced support, security and administration tools – including integration with Office 356 and SharePoint.
It’s a collaboration tool that is maybe meant for more informal sharing and team building, but this is still useful in some contexts.
This project management software uses Gantt charts to track the timeline of a project.
Each row on the chart represents a task that needs to be complete, by whom and by when.
This can naturally be viewed by all team members and allows people to see where they fit into the whole project.
There is also the option to attach files to each row – organising material relating to the task. The chat function is useful but not an apparent strength of this platform.
It’s a workflow management tool, but it also handles the small details of task management well too.
It allocates people to tasks but also lets this person know who is the next person in the workflow so that there is the chance to ease the flow of the project or even ongoing work.
Each project has a task list, and each task list has a subtask. You can assign due dates, attachments, comments, tags and followers.
Asana is free for teams up to 15 people, but the downside is that it only works online in a web browser.
Podio is primarily a social network app but for the workplace, as professionals have their account that acts like a profile.
Some workspaces can be customised for teams and apps that means the group in this workspace can communicate and collaborate. This includes: chat, direct messaging, comments and tags.
There is the option to allocate tasks and responsibilities, there is a calendar and then a feed of updates related to your team and project.
Podio can be built up by purchasing apps in the Apps Marketplace – with options for integrated software that covers most aspects of a business from CRM for small businesses to business development.
Each of these apps is then customisable, with drop and drag fields that do not need an IT specialist.
Igloo is an intranet that is quickly set up and can be customised to a company.
This platform aims to track work, track discussions and manage the internal communication of a company.
You can create Team Spaces for different groups – and then upload files to this space, assign tasks, debate ideas in a forum, and much more.
Some templates can be deployed, meaning you would be ready to start in minutes. Models include those for managing projects, groups and committees.
Igloo essentially uses a to-do list approach, with the option to set milestones and tasks and allocate tasks.
There are a lot of collaboration tools for business on the market, and almost all tastes are covered.
A lot of apps work together to integrate and build the perfect platform, while some attempt to be everything for everyone.
There seems to be the need for chat and messaging, task allocation and accountability, a calendar and places for sharing files.
It is rare to find all this, and online web and video conferencing, and most video conferencing platforms make poor collaboration tools.
But from these ten collaboration tools for business, we are sure you can build the perfect combination.
Once you identify the team collaboration needs of your company, you should choose the best project management software to accommodate the needs of your project managers.