As workforces disperse, network-based team collaboration technology has become an essential tool for brainstorming, planning, client engagement, and other essential business tasks.
Organizations searching for the best collaboration platform have a wide range of services to choose from. As 2020 gets down to business, here's a rundown of today's top collaboration tools offering the capabilities users most appreciate.
Cisco Webex Teams
With Cisco Webex Teams, all work takes place inside dedicated spaces and teams. Messaging, file sharing, video meetings, white boarding, calling, and numerous other tools are designed to bring users together by streamlining tasks and encouraging teamwork.
Richard Buxton, a director at N4Engage, a collaborations solution provider, said he likes how the spaces feature allows him to quickly start or continue conversations via text, voice, or video. He noted that the service also integrates easily with other businesses systems. "For example, if a new incident is logged in our ITSM (IT service management) platform, ServiceNow, I can receive an instant message in Webex Teams and click the link to go directly to the incident," Buxton explained. "These integrations allow me to connect to other systems without having to get a developer to write specific code."
Confluence is a project-oriented team collaboration tool that aims to help organizations and teams achieve maximum productivity. An array of APIs, apps and integrations allow the development of custom environments for each team. Confluence also features built-in safeguards, including full data backups and disaster recovery services.
"Confluence allows our entire team to have work spaces for every single client we work with," said Sharla Crawford of Gravity Junction, a marketing and Web development firm. The application helps the organization keep track of client and team meetings, outline marketing strategies, set timelines, reach goals, observe metrics, "and is a hub for resources we link out to help each brand grow," she added.
While frequently viewed as only a cloud storage and file syncing service, Google Drive also offers a suite of online Microsoft Office-compatible apps that allow users to import, export, and natively edit Microsoft Office files. As a network-based collaboration tool, Google Drive enables users to work collaboratively with colleagues on documents, spreadsheets, and presentations in real time.
"Google Drive is amazing for sharing documents between team members and is simple to use," stated Robyn Flint, an insurance specialist at ExpertInsuranceReviews.com.
Tanish Pruthi, a marketing associate at Mercer-Mettl, a job candidate assessment service provider, appreciates the tool's cross-platform portability. "If I'm away from my laptop and have to quickly access a file, I [can] do so on my mobile," he observed. "The interface is quite beautiful and intuitive on the mobile ecosystem."
An integral component of Office 365, Microsoft Teams provides a unified communication and collaboration platform that combines persistent workplace chat, video meetings, file storage, and application integration services.
There are huge benefits derived from the direct integrations into the Microsoft Office suite, said Colton De Vos, a marketing specialist, at Resolute Technology Solutions, an IT infrastructure, applications and staffing provider. "Teams excels at purpose-based communications by creating new groups based on projects, ongoing initiatives, and tasks," he explained. "You can attach files directly in chat to keep everything organized and without having to revert back to unwieldly e-mail chains."
Offering support for team messaging, file sharing, to-do lists, task management, and video chats, RingCentral Glip is a direct offspring of the RingCentral Office cloud-based phone service.
RingCentral Glip makes team collaboration quick and more efficient, especially when you have remote team members (comma) and engage directly with customers, observed Rich Brownlee, director of infrastructure and operations for dental support provider Pacific Dental Services. "Glip allows us to videoconference right in the chat and it stores shared links, which eliminates the need to search for content—all while remaining HIPAA compliant," he noted.
A pioneering and widely popular network-based team collaboration tool, Slack offers team-based public and private chat channels that enable users to focus on topics of specific interest. Customizable notification levels allow participants to stay on top of topics without getting buried under irrelevant or trivial messages.
Slack brings teams together around specific tasks, goals, and values, said Kostiantyn Keilin, a front-end software engineer at software development company LITSLINK. "Slack is good for addressing workplace challenges as it works fast, provides regular extensions, and updates that are easy to install and integrate," he explained. "Custom emoticons also add some fun to the work environment and help employees to develop their corporate culture together."
Trello’s features—including boards, lists, and cards—are designed to allow users to organize and prioritize projects in various ways. Participants can add comments, attachments, due dates and other types of information directly to cards. The service also supports a variety of automated tasks.
John Moss, CEO of English Blinds, a window blinds retailer, appreciates Trello for both its functionality and appearance. "The color coding, ability to arrange the boards in the way you like, add tags, and so on," he noted. "It reminds me of old school whiteboards and post-it notes."
Moss observed that Trello is also highly intuitive. "[This] means that when you bring new people into the collaboration you don’t need to spend ages priming them on the platform, waiting for them to get up to speed, or dealing with a lot of mistakes until they become fully conversant with the service."