Updated in August 2018.
What began as a messaging tool for video game developers has evolved into the full-service collaboration platform we now call Slack. It presents a single unified archive with a search function and integrates with popular services such as Twitter and Dropbox. Slack has also built an ecosystem of partners, chatbots and integrations for additional functionality. Most popular for its ability to counter the reply-all e-mail chain scenario that most of us know all too well it provides persistent chatrooms or channels organised by topic.Teams who use Slack claim to see an average 48.6 per cent reduction in internal e-mail.
Salesforce Chatter is essentially an enterprise-level social network for employees to connect with each other and with their customers and partners. Built with a Facebook-style interface, the software provides access to files, business processes and document collaboration functions. Users can use an @mention tag to flag posts. Salesforce designed Chatter to be used both with mobile devices and on desktops. The product comes standard with a set of Salesforce apps and integrates with most third-party software, such as SharePoint, Google Drive and Box.
This web-based project management application was designed to make project collaboration as simple as possible. Overarching projects are set up as boards and members can add cards for individual steps or tasks, assigning them to those involved, prioritising, and adding timelines. Flexible, easy to use and visually attractive, it can be used across a range of sectors, from software project management and web design to law office case management and lesson planning.
Founded in 2008 by Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz, Asana is designed to help teams organise, track, and manage their workloads, making it easier to collaborate and work on joint projects. Slickly designed, this software-as-a-service allows teams to create projects, assign work to teammates, set deadlines, and chat about specific tasks, all in one tool. It also comes with a suite of reporting tools to help members monitor project progress.
Harvest is a web-based tracking tool, which allows you to the time and budget your team members spend on individual projects or tasks. It also has invoicing and reporting capabilities so that clients will receive automated payment reminders rather than managers being required to chase via email. Harvest’s complementary application, Forecast, is a visualisation tool which helps teams map out plans so that you can check how available coworkers are at a glance. The perfect collaborative replacement for lengthy spreadsheets.
Google’s full gamut of cloud computing and collaboration tools. The true value of G-Suite is simply the comprehensive range of interconnected tools - from email and calendar, to docs and sheets, to Google hangouts. Perfect for startups and SMEs, these collaboration tools are also free to use, with supplementary business features for when your company needs an extra level of customisation. Truly collaborative, team members can view each other’s calendars, communicate via chat, and work on documents at the same time.
Microsoft’s SharePoint is a content management system that allows users to upload and share documents, images and videos with their colleagues and collaborators. Users can aggregate and track group edits while also maintaining version control. An encrypted service, SharePoint has a number of facilities to protect the security and fidelity of uploaded files. It is a browser-based solution, so it can be accessed from any internet-enabled mobile or desktop device. SharePoint can be installed on to on-site SharePoint servers or backed up on to Microsoft’s cloud to create a hybrid system. Launched back in 2001, SharePoint is part of Microsoft’s Office 365 suite of productivity software.
Telecommunications company Powwownow may have invented the future of conference calling. Available 24/7, they offer instant, hassle-free communication with your colleagues, wherever they are in the world. The major benefit is a cost saving, as you can conference call globally, without being hit with the bridging fees common to other providers. The in-built web meeting tool allows you to share screens and notes, take feedback, and record important meetings, so no vital decisions slip through the cracks.
Designed for business, Quip is collaborative productivity software which promises to “leave email, meetings, and file versions in the dust”. At its core, it provides word processing and spreadsheet functionalities, and will allow groups of people to create and edit documents together. There is a live updating history so that team members can see edits made as and when they happen and a separate, standalone chat room to facilitate open communication. Acquired by Salesforce in 2016, you can now turn your Salesforce data into living documents.
The logically named Join.me, by remote connectivity firm LogMeIn, is an online meeting tool that requires a free download before you can use it. It provides free screen-sharing, unlimited audio and simple video-conferencing. It’s different because most web-conferencing and collaboration tools have been designed to replicate formal boardroom-style meetings, but Join.me has been designed from a mobile-first, multi-device perspective. So yes, you could use it to organise a family gathering or as a party planning online video conference, without the boardroom suit look and feel. There’s even a fun whiteboard for everyone to draw on, virtually of course.