You should be no stranger to collaborative work by now. Better decision making, higher customer retention, improved revenues, and increased innovation are just some of the benefits of working as a team. This is great as a statement, but productive collaboration is not an easy beast to tackle.
When you work in teams and collaborate with partners, which most businesses do on a regular basis, it can be difficult in the beginning, or when new people are added to the group, to find the right tools to collaborate productively—that is, maximizing time and minimizing confusion.
The old-school methods have flaws. Email chains can be distracting as “reply alls” flood your inbox. Attachments are easily lost. New tools and expensive software might leave some members feeling overwhelmed because of the “techy-ness.”
The ideal productivity tool for business collaboration is straight-forward, sleek, concise, organized, and offers multiple functions. And the ideal one would be free, right?
Some of the tools below have free versions, but you might need to spring for a subscription to unlock all the powers. It can be worth it if your team is dedicated to using the platform and it is conducive to everyone’s working style.
- Plays up a notepad idea
- There are personal notebooks and business ones, where you can jot down ideas, brainstorm, organize projects, etc.
- Business notebooks are shared across team members for collaboration.
- You can make notes, share knowledge, and have access to projects on-the-go (it’s compatible on multiple platforms).
- Starts at $10/user/month
Why it’s good for collaboration: it keeps thoughts organized between team members and is a place people can go for information about co-workers, job positions, company growth, etc.
- Time tracking software
- Allows you to categorize your time based on project.
- Managers and individuals can evaluate time spent on projects on a weekly, monthly basis.
- Generates reports based on usage
- Starts $5/user/month
Why it’s good for collaboration: once your team starts tracking time spent on projects, productivity increases because of awareness.
- A platform that incorporates all aspects of collaboration: social, storage, sharing.
- Has features for managing calendars, tasks, projects, document sharing
- Built-in social network allows you give feedback, share ideas, chat, and make comments.
- Online storage
- Starts at $99/month for a Standard Plan.
Why it’s good for collaboration: the integrated social, time tracking, document sharing, and task management will keep everyone on task and “in the know.”
- You can attach related files to tasks.
- Keeps a record of changes and comments on items, so you don’t have to wonder when something changed or who changed it.
- Assign tasks to members and receive email notifications of changes.
- Starts at $5/user/month
Why it’s good for collaboration: It offers real-time updates, so you can see what your co-workers and employees are doing as they do it. Document attachment to specific tasks ensures nothing gets lost.
- Email organization tool that helps you avoid emails you don’t have time for.
- Summarizes emails for you
- Plans start at $7/month
Why it’s good for collaboration: if your team prefers emailing back and forth, this tool will help everyone stay focused on important tasks at hand and not have to sift through meaningless, junk emails on company time.
- Instant messenger used for chat outside of the Gmail interface
- Compatible with your Gmail login
- Can transfer files instantly right from the chat window.
Why it’s good for collaboration: it’s a simple platform and allows your team to message each other individuals to keep track of projects.
- Has tools for organizing tasks, content management, reporting, and communication.
- Compatible on multiple platforms and multiple languages.
- Options for an email plug-in.
- Offers storage and integrates Dropbox and Box.
- $5/person/month for the Pro version
Why it’s good for collaboration: it has a really cool task reporting dashboard where you can see things at a glance and then address projects based on priorities or workloads.
- Inclusive platform allows you to manage projects, conduct discussions, manage task lists, share files, and jot down ideas.
- Sleek design
- Updates in real time
- Has features for email organization, calendar management, lists based on person, position, or team.
- Starts at $19/month
Why it’s good for collaboration: users can comment directly under tasks and have a conversation about the project at hand.
- Allows users across multiple teams keep track of who is doing what task and any given time.
- Team members can submit ideas, plans, files, and conversations and keep them in one place.
- Free for teams smaller than 15 members.
- Starts at $50/month for 15 members.
Why it’s good for collaboration: You have your work, notes, and task list all in one place. You don’t have to jump from email to platform to know the status of something or to learn more details about the project.
Finding the right tool for your team might include some trial and error. Some teams might need a full-service platform with all the bells and whistles, while other teams are fine with using a time-tracking software to have a record of billable hours.
Do you use a tool that we left off the list? Let us know and leave us a comment!