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Collaboration Software - The Top 5 Choices in 2018

Collaboration Software - The Top 5 Choices in 2018
Business
Collaboration

July 27, 2017 | Matt Lovato

The 5 Best Plug n Play Collaboration Tools

Plenty of online services have taken the liberty of calling themselves "collaboration software" simply because they offer one or two useful features, but few of them can be classified as stand-alone team collaboration platforms. With tools like Slack, team leaders are forced into cobbling workflows together using multiple apps, and in one way or another, this gets expensive... quick.

In our opinion, only platforms that combine communication with project management tools, file sharing, and real-time document editing deserve to be called collaboration software. In other words, they must be plug & play, and this narrows the list down quite a bit. Moreover, collaboration software must be able to play nicely with more specialized online tools, like customer service portals, CRMs, and marketing automation.

Here are the top 5 plug-n-play collaboration tools. We know you probably don't have time to thoroughly test each platform, so we've added some informative demo videos to help you speed up your evaluation. Enjoy!

#1. Samepage

STRENGTHS

It quite literally puts your team (via text & video chat) on the same page with content you're working on or sharing together. Its intuitive and beautifully designed real-time environment is very effective for task & project management, online meetings, and rich document co-editing - and by rich, we mean you can add almost anything to a page:

  • text & links
  • fully functional tasks & calendar events
  • video
  • images
  • files, both natively or synced from other cloud file storage apps
  • spreadsheets
  • Google maps
  • surveys
  • diagrams
  • html snippets

So when all of the digital assets you could possibly need are next to the team's chat history or video call on a single project page, you rarely need to leave Samepage to hunt down project assets or conversations. In fact, if you're really trying to consolidate your workflows into a single app, Samepage also connects with Zapier to help you bring email and content from over 700 different apps into Samepage automatically in the form of comments, tasks, or full pages. You can also extend this collaborative environment beyond your team or organization. Samepage makes it just as easy to work with customers, contractors, and others outside the organization. Its privacy controls are exceptional.

To summarize, Samepage's biggest strength is probably its ability to act as your team's live-action headquarters for task management, file sharing, rich document co-authoring, and team communication. We've ranked it in first place because it puts a living page at the center of collaboration, and this offers far more flexibility than centering everything around tasks, files, or basic chat.

WEAKNESS

API lovers with needs that exceed Samepage+Zapier will not be satisfied with how locked down Samepage is. Although we hear from the developers that an API is coming in the near future, that time frame is likely too vague to satisfy.

PRICE

$7 per user per month (billed annually), or $8 per user per month (billed monthly)

APPS

Desktop: YES

iOS: YES

Android: YES

Samepage Demo

#2. Confluence

STRENGTHS

Confluence is part of the Atlassian product suite, so it integrates with other Atlassian products easily. Similar to Samepage, it has a real-time document editing core, instant messaging features, file sharing, and a granular user/group system. Its greatest strength, however, may also be its greatest weakness. If your team has sufficient technical/administrative resources, you can customize the platform, especially in terms of user permissions, editing rights, etc. Most other platforms avoid this level of complexity, but if you're a large team with very detailed security or workflow requirements, this may be what you need.

Assuming you're the type of team mentioned above, you may also be interested in their open source add-ons marketplace. Here, third-party developers have amassed hundreds of installable plugins to help you further customize your Confluence environment. Some popular examples include diagram drawing, table filter and charts, and Comala workflows.

In summary, Confluence is an excellent collaboration tool for those who have the technical resources to manage it properly, in which case it serves as a great project management tool without making tasks the center of the universe. We've ranked Confluence second because of its flexible collaborative environment and its ability to handle extremely complex business requirements.

WEAKNESS

As mentioned above, it's not the most intuitive platform. The visuals are very basic and not very informative, which compounds the problems that come with complexity. The first team in your organization to start using Confluence will likely battle a steep learning curve unless the team has a technical administrator with prior experience to guide them.

PRICE

$5 per user per month (Pro Plan)

$15 per user per month (Business Plan)

APPS

Desktop: YES

iOS: YES

Android: YES

Confluence Demo

#3. Asana

STRENGTHS

Asana has done a great job focusing on the day-to-day to-do list. Compared to other task or project management tools, Asana is a more flexible task management tool. It allows you to customize the way you organize and track progress on a huge list of tasks, and this is probably its biggest strength. Being a task-based project management tool, it also allows you to attach people, conversations, files, and other custom data to a task which helps provide deeper context.

You can also break tasks down into subtasks. Although this is mostly an organizational function, it really helps teams specify the granular details without exploding a team's task list. This helps drive the general consensus that Asana is one of the prettiest collaboration tools out there.

Asana also has a well-developed set of integrations with other apps. In the event that your team cannot survive in a task-based world, Asana can help you bridge the gap.

To summarize, Asana seems to be the most user-friendly task-management solution out there. We've ranked it in third place because of its intuitive, flexible, and attractive design approach to task management.

WEAKNESS

You have to be a task-list kind of team to survive solely on this tool. In other words, you'll need to combine it with another tool if you're a design team or have other more collaborative needs. But if you are the task-list kind of team, you might be slightly disappointed with Asana's ability to offer some of the analytical reporting data that other project management tools offer, such as time-tracking and other productivity metrics.

PRICE

$10 per user per month (billed annually)

APPS

Desktop: NO

iOS: YES

Android: YES

Asana Demo

#4. Wrike

STRENGTHS

Wrike's primary focus is on streamlining project management. Although it has some basic communication and file sharing tools built in, its greatest strength is in its ability to slice and dice project information into visually meaningful workload and timeline reports. This is great for a team that manages a high volume of projects and is looking for a tool to prevent responsibility overload.

The hardcore project manager who is comfortable with the typical set of PM tools will like this platform. It has an easily understandable structure of projects containing tasks, progress status, assignees, departments, etc. This kind of information is nicely represented in Gantt charts and other various timeline formats. Live co-authoring is also possible in certain areas.

Wrike also has an extensive integration list, along with its own API. So if your team has some tech-savvy ninjas at the ready, you can easily fold Wrike into an existing multi-app workflow.

To summarize, Wrike excels as a formal project management tool. We've ranked it in fourth place because of its visually powerful project management and reporting tools.

WEAKNESS

Again, you have to be a task-list kind of team to survive solely on this tool. Wrike doesn't offer much in terms of "team-based" communication. Instead, communication is confined to projects or tasks. This works perfectly well for large project-oriented teams, but for everyone else, it's a bit rigid, expensive, and possibly considered overkill for day-to-day operations.

PRICE

$9.80 per user per month (Pro Plan)

$24.80 per user per month (Business Plan)

$34.60 per user per month (Marketers Plan)

APPS

Desktop: NO

iOS: YES

Android: YES

Wrike Demo

#5. Redbooth

STRENGTHS

In terms of functionality, Redbooth finds itself somewhere between Asana and Wrike when it comes to project management. It's mostly another task-based platform with a nice Gantt chart view, and although it doesn't surpass either Asana or Wrike in their respective areas of expertise, Redbooth does move beyond task-based communication a bit, and this is probably why it competes so well in the collaboration space.

Its built-in video conferencing helps it stand out from Asana and Wrike, making it a better, more flexible communication tool that can extend beyond your team to outsiders like contractors or clients.

Redbooth keeps the pace with others when it comes to integrations, but they also have some cool extensions for Gmail, Outlook and Google Chrome, so even if you aren't using their desktop app, they get pretty close to remaining ever-present on your desktop like a true collaboration tool should.

To summarize, Redbooth differentiates themselves from Asana and Wrike by breaking out of the task list world, but not by much. We've ranked it in fifth place because although it doesn't win against Asana or Wrike for task management, it does do a better in communication, and it's slightly more affordable.

WEAKNESS

Aside from mostly being another task-based collaboration tool, there really is no singular area of weakness. Its weakness is simply that it is underdeveloped or less refined than other task management platforms and communication tools.

PRICE

$5 per user per month (Pro Plan)

$15 per user per month (Business Plan)

APPS

Desktop: YES

iOS: YES

Android: YES

Redbooth Demo

 

Well, there you have it! We hope you enjoyed the analysis. If you'd like to see a more feature-based comparison, please look at this more comprehensive comparison.

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