Team Collaboration Tools: Why Your Business Needs Them

by Denise Hazime on October 29, 2015

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Collaboration is a hot business buzzword that can feel like just that: an empty buzzword. But in our current mobile workplace, collaboration is becoming more important than ever. Collaboration is the action of working together to produce something. In order to collaborate, we have to communicate, and email is not the most effective means of communication. Emails can get lost, we can send the wrong version of a file, and we can get email addresses wrong.

Team collaboration tools take the pain usually associated with email out of collaborating and allow you to share and communicate with your team in real time. While some pieces of software allow you collaborate within the software itself, such as Google Docs, it is helpful to have a platform that is dedicated to collaboration where links to items such as Google Docs or Sheets can be shared.

Many project management tools come with collaborative tools baked into the software. But if you have a small team and just need one central repository for collaboration, a project management tool can be viewed as too high of an investment.

However, every business eventually needs them, and it can’t hurt to consider them alongside team collaboration tools while you’re dipping your feet in the water. The good news is that most team collaboration tools are built for project management lite, and give you the option to export your spaces to more advanced tools down the road.

Slack: Lean and Free

Slack is a very simple team collaboration tool that allows you to create channels for discussing certain items. Setup is easy - sign up, you get a team URL at slack.com (e.g. yourname.slack.com) and anyone can sign in to your space just by going to your team URL and entering their login information. No downloads, and the only setup is getting your users to set up your login. Assign each client or project a channel, and share any necessary files to that channel. You can just invite users to the channel who are actually on the account, saving the rest of your team from getting unnecessary white noise.

Slack’s menu is simple to use

Slack’s menu is simple to use

Aside from its base purpose of managing conversations and sharing documents, Slack allows for a host of integrations, including Twitter, Zapier, MailChimp, and a host of other services. At its core, allowing integrations allow you to pull everything you are working on in other tools into Slack, making it a true repository of the work your company is doing. The only drawback is that Slack can look a little messy for those using it for the first time, and may take some time to get used to using. But for the price tag of free, that usually isn’t an issue.  

Podio

Podio is worth a mention as a tool which marries team collaboration and project management successfully in one tool. Project workspaces are set up, where files are uploaded and team members are added as watchers, contributors or other various different roles. Team members are communicated to by putting an “@” sign in front of their name from within the project workspace, or through a chat client that comes with the tool. While it is not free, the per user rate is inexpensive - under $10 per user depending on the desired features.

Podio is a tool which marries team collaboration and project management successfully in one tool.

Where Podio falls down a bit is on the learning curve. It offers more features than Slack, but that means that there is a bit more of a process to learning how to work with it. Once it is down though, it is a great means of communication and collaboration for teams, particularly in larger companies.  

Zoho Connect

Zoho Connect kicks team collaboration into high gear by effectively offering a social network specific to your company. It’s an out-of-the-box intranet, and is designed to be picked up easily by Facebook users.

Zoho Connect kicks team collaboration into high gear by effectively offering a social network specific to your company.

Where Slack and Podio fall down in usability and learning curves, Zoho Connect picks up by presenting users with a very similar interface to social networking sites, with a clear, concise layout. Users can be grouped together in Groups, with Streams being available for each project or client, much in the same way that Channels are used in Slack.

Zoho Connect has the added benefit of being part of the Zoho ecosystem, so if you are on Zoho CRM, Zoho Projects, or any other Zoho app, Zoho Connect will easily and quickly pick up relevant information from a customer’s profile. As with Podio, Zoho Connect is meant to work alongside Zoho Projects as the team collaboration app for Zoho, with the added bonus of being fun to use and a bit more user-friendly than Podio.

The secret sauce to any team collaboration tool is integration with your existing systems. UpCurve Cloud can ensure that all of your current tools that you use are pulled in to your team collaboration tool. Contact us today to find out more about team collaboration tools and how they can help your business become more efficient.

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Denise Hazime
VP of Alliances at UpCurve Cloud
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