Don’t Choose Your Team Collaboration Tools Without Reading This First.

Best Collaboration Tools

Don’t Choose Your Team Collaboration Tools Without Reading This First.

April 9, 2019   Instant Messaging

Solid team collaboration is the cornerstone of any successful enterprise. The ability of employees to actively contribute to one another, build off each other’s ideas, and work together towards common goals is vital to producing tangible team momentum and long-term viability.

Yet according to a recent survey, while 3 out of 4 participants stated team collaboration as “very important,” 39% of employees reported collaboration levels at their workplace as too low.

While there are many tried and true methods to enhance teamwork – from efficiently organizing and running meetings, establishing clear team goals and objectives, and executing effective team-building activities – every team could benefit from a little added support.

So how do you boost team collaboration? And is there a secret sauce that some teams have at their disposal to help them collaborate more successfully?

Thankfully, in the golden age of productivity hacks and team collaboration tools, myriad solutions exist to help boost teamwork around your organization. More on that in a bit though!

So what’s first then?

It’s necessary to do a bit of homework. This ensures you don’t simply choose the latest or trendiest tech, but rather you make a choice which sets your team on a path of more powerful and meaningful collaboration.

Focus on the long-term benefits of any investment

There’s no such thing as a free lunch. The same holds true for your team collaboration solution. If you’re serious about upping teamwork around your organization, remember that success not only comes at a cost, but that the best investments take some time to pay dividends.

Ask yourself what you expect to change upon using the tools. Your answer could focus on:

  • A reduction in the amount of mistakes made
  • The speed in which your team finishes tasks
  • The efficiency in which they complete projects

Of course you expect a payoff from investing in team collaboration software. But don’t hesitate to allocate resources to the problem. And be patient.

Diagnose the collaboration situation

Diagnose the collaboration situation

Before diving into the latest tool, you need to diagnose the root of the problem.

For instance, determine whether your team suffers from:

  • Poor planning and/or organization
  • A lack of the right people in the right positions
  • Overly large groups or teams
  • Too few conversations
  • Inadequate transparency
  • Distributed or remote team members

While your diagnosis depends on these factors, the solution you choose ultimately varies as no two collaboration tools solve for the exact same problem. Some focus on smooth and secure team communication and collaboration, while others emphasize quick synchronization and sharing or a plethora of extra features and integrations.

Most importantly, include your team in the decision-making process. They’re your source of truth on the matter! Basing your choice on their needs is the best way to ensure success.

Choose a tool that answers your team’s needs

Once you’ve established the root cause of your team’s collaboration issues, it’s time to choose a solution. Given the abundance of tools on the market already, as well as those being released almost daily, it’s not a question of whether the right solution exists, but rather how to find it.

Do your homework. Involve your team. Pick their brains. Which tools are they keen on? And read up on enterprise collaboration solutions. Most provide trial periods so you can test drive the platform, its features, and its functionality with your team.

Unless you’ve honed on a single issue that’s slowing your team down, choose a tool that’s adaptable – a self-hosted solution that you can tailor to your specific team needs and administer in a way which suits your organization. This gives you the opportunity to experiment with various collaboration approaches until you settle on the right formula.

collaborative tools

Now what about the solutions?

Google Drive

When it comes to collaboration, Google is the undisputed heavyweight, by now likely having surpassed one billion users. The cloud storage and file sharing tool for both ordinary consumers and G-Suite customers allows users to collaborate on documents and then access them from any device.

Google recently revamped Drive, unveiling Google One in 2018. For paying customers, Google One offers a few new benefits in addition to Drive. Users can share their data storage capacity with up to five family members as part of a “Family Plan,” one-tap access to specialists for 24/7 support, and gain credits on Google Play and deals on hotels.

Some of One’s key features include the ability to:

  • Store files and then access files from any device
  • Create files with Docs, Sheets, and Slides
  • View previous versions prior to editing
  • Share files with others; as well as comment and collaborate on them
  • Store and edit photos
  • Scan documents with the Android app
  • Take advantage of numerous integrations

With Drive, Google provides 15GB of free storage for Android users or those who have a Gmail account.

After that, Google One offers users a wide range of plans from 200 GB for $2.99, 2 TB for $9.99 per month, and all the way up to 30 TB for $300 per month.

Available on: iOS, Android, macOS Windows, Linux, Web

Dropbox

Google Drive may be the heavyweight when it comes to cloud storage, but Dropbox is no slouch, reporting 500 million users despite increasing competition.

In fact, Dropbox founder Drew Houston invented the synchronization model mimicked by many cloud storage solutions. But Dropbox remains the leader, utilizing block-level transfer. Full files are only transmitted when they’re first added to the sync folder. When edits are made, rather than transmitting a new file over the old, only the changes get copied by breaking up files into 4MB blocks. And that affords Dropbox faster synchronization than Google.

Dropbox is geared towards the everyday user regardless of device, operating system, or preferred browser. In fact, Dropbox is often lauded for its intuitiveness. Simply create a Dropbox folder and then drag and drop your files. You can even drag and drop your entire PC or Mac into Dropbox, making your data available locally or via the cloud.

Dropbox’s simplicity, though, is perhaps its biggest drawback. Aside from cloud sharing, Dropbox is a bit bare bones. Individuals in need of collaboration tools get Dropbox Showcase for presenting and tracking work, but that’s about it. What’s more, Dropbox only offers users 2GB of free storage. Not much in a data-driven world.

Those after more storage are looking at $9.99 per month for 1TB storage and a 30-day version history. For $19.99, a Professional plan offers 2TB storage and some more features like smart sync, priority chat support, advanced sharing controls, and 120-day versioning.

Dropbox also offers a range of business plans providing Dropbox Paper for task management, Office 365 integrations, unlimited storage, tighter security and data encryption, remote wipe capabilities, and administrative and enterprise controls; but with a three user minimum requirement.

Available on: iOS, Android, Windows Phone, macOS, Windows, Linux, Web

Trello

If you’ve spent any time looking into project management tools, you’ve no doubt come across Trello – the popular digital Kanban board which allows you to drag and drop tasks to visualize, communicate statuses, progress, and issues, and optimize workflows.

The platform offers you a choice of boards or lists, which you can further organize by teams or tasks. Within these, you can categorize tasks or projects by “to-do”, “doing,” and “done,” delegate tasks amongst team members, add deadlines, leave comments and feedback, and even get notifications as things relevant to you happen.

What’s more, Trello offers a host of Power-Ups, or integrations with other apps such as Google Drive, Jira, Evernote, and GitHub. You can even access the platform via email, meaning you can track tasks and projects without visiting the app itself.

Trello Gold for individuals starts at $5 per month, while Trello business accounts are offered in three tiers – Freemium, Business at $9.99 per month, and Enterprise, which is priced according to the number of users required.

Available on: iOS, Android, Windows, macOS, Web

Asana

No recap of collaboration tools would be complete without mentioning, Asana, one the giants in project management tools and Trello’s chief competition.

Like Trello, Asana also provides user-friendly task management which you can categorize and arrange in lists. You can also comment on tasks, pop in and out of discussions, and read previous conversations if you join a task midway.

Asana, however, allows you to view everything in calendar format to help you plan your time and tasks, or timeline format to help you gauge remaining work – ideal for large tasks.

One area where Asana outperforms its competition is by allowing users to manage dependencies, or specify which tasks which need to be completed before others can begin. This helps you to avoid bottlenecks and prevent situations where team members are waiting idly for their task. Again, this is quite helpful for larger tasks and projects.

Asana offers built-in integrations with both Google Drive and Dropbox, as well as a Chrome extension which allows you to add URLs as tasks.

Where Trello’s freemium version doesn’t restrict your team size, Asana limits you to 15 members. A Premium account will set you back $9.99 per user per month, while a Business account is fixed at $19.99 per user per month.

Available on: iOS, Android, macOS, Windows, Web

Brosix

brosix instant messenger

High-performance team collaboration is more than just efficient project management and cloud-based storage and sharing. For teamwork and productivity to flourish, real-time communication is key.

Since 2006, Brosix has provided an effective enterprise communication solution – offering teams full chat features, voice and video, robust collaboration tools, and best in class security to optimize team communication and collaboration, as well as safeguard it.

Over Brosix’s private team network, users have the option to text, create custom chat spaces, or communicate more personally over crystal clear voice and video. Brosix also features a number of tools to enhance team collaboration and productivity – ideal for distributed teams or remote workers.

Tools like whiteboard and remote desktop access allow users to create and share charts, graphs, and diagrams, as well as explain complex configurations or new software, respectively. And when paired with Brosix’s chat features, users boost the quality of presentations and data sharing and streamline problem solving.

For all their greatness, cloud-based platforms come with caveats. There’s the hassle of size limitations, as well as the risks involved with ceding control to a third party. Brosix’s unlimited size file transfer, however, never restricts file transfers due to size or quantity and always transpires over a peer-to-peer channel.

For full enterprise protection, though, security must be two-fold. You need to minimize the risk of malicious external threats, as well as mitigate internal malfeasance, carelessness, and inactivity. That’s why Brosix, in addition to peer-to-peer communications over a private team network, encrypts end-to-end all communications across the platform and offers users the ability to integrate anti-virus scanning on all file-transfers.

What’s more, Brosix’s comprehensive administrative controls allow administrators to set multiple admins, manage the features to which users have access and with whom they can chat, apply data security levels on a user basis, and monitor communications through chat history archives.

Brosix is one of the more reasonably priced solutions on the market, coming in at at $2.10 per user per month for full team communication and collaboration. At $2.99 per user per month, Brosix Ultimate offers full administrative control, LiveChat, Broadcast Message, and more.

Available on: iOS, Android, macOS, Windows, Linux, Web

The Takeaway

Fostering effective team collaboration isn’t a problem to tackle overnight. It’s a long-term, multistep process.

You need to first:

  • Focus on long-term deliverables
  • Diagnose your team needs
  • Be willing to commit resources to the problem

Importantly, cloud storage and sharing solutions come with a new set of decisions, as you’ll need to evaluate:

  • How much storage you need
  • What you’re willing to pay
  • Other features you may need
  • The security of the platform

As you can see, you need to thoroughly analyze multiple factors regarding team needs and dynamics, and then whether the tool solves these issues.

By doing your due diligence, taking advantage of free trials periods, and basing your choice on this analysis, you can set your team on a trajectory of meaningful and lasting collaboration.