For any company, one of the hardest things to get right is to have everyone communicating regularly. With different meetings, events and tasks to complete, getting all your employees in the same room for a brainstorming session or internal meetings can be a challenging endeavour. Email, while handy, is a rather cumbersome tool to use if you want to keep dialogue open so alternative methods need to be adapted.
One of the great things about this day and age is that many companies are moving towards the cloud and are now collaborating online. There are a number of online tools that will help you keep communication open and ensure that everyone is on the same page.
Before you jump right in and choose what app to use, an important thing to remember is that technology isn't going to make people want to collaborate or make it better. Instead, it's you who has to make it happen. People need to see the benefits of using these tools and realise that it's making their lives a lot easier. If it doesn't make the workload easier, faster or more manageable, then all you're doing is complicating things.
For one, think about what your company deals with and the type of interactions you go through on a daily basis. Does your company focus on quick messages, detailed explanations or are interactions image heavy? Are your employees working remotely most of the time? Do you benefit more from face-to-face interactions? The aim is to make your company more productive and this is important as a more creative team would benefit from a more visual collaboration tool like Cage, while those dealing with more general projects might be better using Basecamp instead.
When you've decided what tool you're using, you need to get your employees and colleagues to start using it. All changes need to be driven from those leading the company or teams so that people get on board with the idea. If you don't do that, then you will probably see it being used for a week or two before people regress back to their old methods.
Depending on the size of the company, you should probably roll out the new changes gradually, starting off with the most technically proficient members of your company like your IT team if you have one. Having a group to try it out and learning about it is a good way to get feedback about it.
Don't rely on people just picking it up by themselves, you need to drive it by providing resources like training, tutorials and other ways to learn so that the transition is as smooth as possible. Also, you should encourage and expect honest feedback from all employees as they get used to the new system.
Apps To Use
While there are a vast number of apps out there that could all easily be included, here are some suggestions that can help you better plan out your schedule. Remember that different tools suit different businesses so if you're using a collaboration tool that isn't working out, it's better to drop it and look for a replacement.
If your company runs numerous projects, and collaboration is getting a little confusing, Basecamp helps you keep track of all your company projects. By keeping everything on the one page, it ensures that all material and resources are easily accessible.
The social network for companies, if you wanted to oversimplify things, you could describe Yammer as a cross between Facebook and LinkedIn. But there is far more to it than just a news feed, you can create notes and edit them in real-time, upload new versions of files while keeping the older versions and see the files and notes that are being interacted with the most.
Built specifically for designers and creatives alike, Cage allows users to share designs and get contextual feedback on them. By placing annotations on your designs, you and clients can offer contextual feedback to your designers, making the entire process a lot smoother.
Alongside the usual collaboration tools you take for granted, TeamworkPM has a handy milestone tool which keeps you informed about any key goals or dates as well as a useful birds eye viewer, which lets you visualise your overall schedule and keep track of all your projects.
With the focus on simplicity, Producteev allows you to simplify your projects and tasks so you have a much easier time staying on top of things. With impressive synchronisation between smartphones and email, its accessibility and sharing capabilities means that it's well worth trying out.
If you're looking for something a little more straightforward, why not use Facebook groups? We've mentioned before that the chances of your company members being on the site is pretty high so setting up a private group can be useful for brainstorming and feedback. If you need anything more complicated than that, you may want to look at a different app.
A new addition to Google+, Communities can be made private and have something that will definitely come in useful: Hangouts. If you prefer to have group collaborations and do it face-to-face, then Google+ is a quick and easy way to do this.
Alternatively, if you're only uploading documents and images, Google Docs is another worthy tool. Allowing you to upload and create documents, it's another cheap way to collaborate with your colleagues and since Google Docs has now been integrated into it, you can store more documents individually. This works best when in tandem with Facebook groups or Google+ Communities.
- The Next Web has asked a number of young entrepreneurs what their favourite collaboration tools are.
- Philip Oakley focuses on Google products and shows the seven best services for business collaboration and planning.
- Atlassian Blogs looks at collaboration and discuss the three reasons why working together is so difficult.
- If your company leans more towards design services, Creative Blog lists the ten best collaboration tools for designers.
- Michael Corkery, CEO and CFO of Delteck, write about the ways you can get employees to use social collaboration tools.
- Aaron Rudget and Venkatesh Giri write for VentureBeat where they show how different collaboration tools suit different companies.
- Fox Business presents what feels are the four best web collaboration tools out there.
- PSFK offers a number of the "best examples that supported the theme of 'Enterprise Collaboration Tools."
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