How to Find the Right Business Collaboration Tool for Your Team
Every team has different needs - some teams need to keep in touch across the world, others need to keep in touch less, some keep in touch just fine, and some have problems getting projects delivered on time. Thankfully there are 100's of collaboration tools with features as diverse as your team.
Well, you might not be so thankful after you try to onboard your fifth project management tool as you try to find which tools work best for you. This guide breaks down some of the key types of collaboration software, and some of the drawbacks of each.
Communication (Chat) -
What is it? Communications tools help you communicate as a team. You've probably already heard of the big ones - Slack, Skype for Business, Hipchat. These tools help you communicate in different ways: text chat, voice, and live video.
Who is it for? These tools are used by all kinds of teams. They can work well to communicate within an office, or between offices, and to help connect with external team members and vendors.
Cons? Check out #slacklash on twitter. These tools can make it too easy to keep in touch. They're also fairly limited - you'll love keeping in touch, but when you have to get work done you'll need to subscribe to other tools.
Examples? Slack, Skype for Business, Hipchat, Google Hangouts.
The bottom line - Chat alone won't solve your collaboration issues. If you want a chat app, look for chat platforms that integrate with other apps you already use.
File Sharing -
What is it? Tools that help your team share files, and keep files up to date, available from any device, and out of your email. Again, you know the main players - Google Drive, Dropbox, and Box.
Who is it for? Any team that works with files. Probably every team out there.
Cons? Sharing files is great, but with lots of options you run into storage caps, and many documents can only be edited by one person at a time.
Examples? Dropbox, Box, Google Drive
The bottom line - File sharing is a great way to take your work with you wherever you go. Be mindful of the limits of the tool you're evaluating, and look for options with multi-editing capability.
The Social Network -
What is it? Social networks, but for your office. Like Facebook for work - like the Facebook you already use at work but more productive.
Who is it for? For large teams that need to be able to navigate a large organization and find individuals with certain knowledge and skills.
Cons? You think your personal Facebook feed has too many updates to keep track of? Wait until you start hearing about everything that happens in your organization.
Examples? Facebook for work, Jive, Yammer, and many many others.
The bottom line - Do you work for a big company and need help getting to know people? Maybe you want another way to share cat pictures with your coworkers? The at-work social network might be it.
Project Management -
What is it? Project management software keeps track of all of the pieces of a project. From people, to tasks, to resources, and the schedule on which all of these pieces are suspended. Project management software helps you get a high level picture of what's going on in your organization, or in your department.
Who is it for? Do you love Gantt charts? Do you have the project management bible on your desk? Is "dependency" your middle name? Is your title producer or project manager? Then these products are for you.
Cons? If you're not one of those people, these tools can feel cumbersome to update and navigate. This tool will also be an extra tool on top of all of the other tools you're using.
Examples? Asana, Wrike, Microsoft Project
The bottom line - Project Management software is for project managers. If you're not a project manager a structured project management system won't be the key to collaborative success.
Comprehensive Collaboration Tools -
What is it? Comprehensive collaboration software seeks to provide all of the other forms of collaboration software in one package. By having all of your files, projects, and communication in one app, you spend less time switching apps and more time getting tasks done.
Who is it for? Those looking to simplify their workflow. Those tired of switching constantly from one app to another to get things done.
Cons? Comprehensive software might have everything, but they might not always have the most advanced type of feature for each component.
Examples? Samepage (that's us - you should get a free account), Basecamp, Dropbox Paper (beta).
The bottom line - Last year we conducted a survey with ORC International and discovered that 50% of SMBs use six or more collaboration tools simultaneously.* That's too many tools! If you're serious about collaboration you need a comprehensive solution that gives your team a dedicated space to get more done. Want to read a more in-depth comparison of comprehensive solutions? Take a look at G2 Crowd's in-depth comparison generated from user reviews.
*See more results from our SMB Collaboration Survey on Slideshare.
If you want to see how Samepage stacks up against a wide range of other collaboration tools: Compare Samepage.