by Sean Crafts
Make life easier, improve communication, and boost project efficiency with easy-to-use collaboration tools that your team will love.
Collaboration has become an industry buzzword. We all know it’s important – in fact, 41 percent of businesses said that increased collaboration is the most important change they can make in order to be more successful with their strategic initiatives (FD I Forbes report).
In reality, collaboration will look different for all businesses depending on their environment. Project teams working remotely will need different collaboration tools than those working in the same room or building. Likewise, small businesses with contracted or outsourced vendors will need different tools than large organizations with in-house services.
While there are many tools out there that can help you improve project collaboration, these three are especially helpful for project teams wanting seamless communication, easy access to files and resources, and improved project efficiency.
1. Chat Software
Email is a necessary evil for most organizations, and it has a place in communications. However, it’s easy for modern business professionals to get bogged down by the overwhelming amount of emails in their inbox (not to mention spam). Considering the average professional typically receives 120 emails a day (Radicati Group), it can be difficult to find and sort information or even respond in a timely manner.
When project teams are scattered among different geographic locations, quick and efficient communication is essential to success. Chat software allows team members to instantly connect and communicate in the same space.
Tools like ChatWork and Atlassian HipChat allow you to turn conversations into tasks, assign those tasks to individuals in the chat room and notify team members when the task is done. And because everything is sorted by conversation, and your chat history is always saved, it’s easy to find messages and files when you need them.
Real-time chats in private or group rooms allow you to quickly check in with team members, share files and gain feedback, while keeping everyone on the same page. Chat software operates in the cloud, so it’s very easy to implement with little training necessary – just sign in and start chatting.
2. Video Conferencing
“A five-minute video meeting can accomplish more than 20 emails.” -Eric Yuan, CEO of Zoom
Sometimes a meeting is necessary to accomplish certain tasks, especially when there are multiple parties involved or the subject matter is more complex. And as the remote workforce becomes more and more common in today’s business landscape, in-person meetings can present a challenge.
Web-based video conferencing tools can be a lifesaver when it’s not financially feasible or practical to hop on a plane to meet face to face. Quick brainstorming meetings, client meetings, and even large training sessions and conferences can all happen on your computer, laptop or even a mobile device.
For small or spur-of-the-moment conversations, Skype and Google+ Hangouts are free for everyone and insanely easy to use. Full-featured tools, like Adobe Connect, come with more bells and whistles and can be customized to include file sharing, screen sharing, and interactive white board capabilities.
3. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) Project Management Software
Who wouldn’t want a collaboration tool that gives you better decision-making and a competitive edge?
SaaS environments provide smaller companies with the ability to run full-featured project management applications with minimal acquisition cost or IT support. These tools are typically very easy to deploy and use ̶ team members, clients and vendors can all jump on board with nominal training.
While the features list of many SaaS products can be quite extensive, one major benefit for project teams is the organized project workflow. Tools like Gantt charts and task tracking allow you to know which tasks are due, check the status of each task, and see who’s responsible for what. Many SaaS software applications, such as Mavenlink, offer time and expense tracking to help keep the project on budget, and resource management to maximize efficiency (and therefore, your bottom line).
Perhaps one of the best features of SaaS tools is the user-friendly interface, made even easier by Activity Feeds. Similar in function to many social networks, users have easy access to files and conversations through a stream of short, real-time updates. Each conversation is sorted by project, which is especially useful for organizations that work with multiple clients and manage many projects simultaneously.
Collaboration is a living, breathing thing; as the business landscape changes, organizations must be swift to implement smart tools and strategies that ultimately improve their business processes.
Sean Crafts is the Founder and Chief Customer Officer at Mavenlink. Crafts spent 10 years helping grow InQuira (now Oracle) from 15 employees to annual gross revenues exceeding $40 million. He held various positions within the company including sales, marketing, finance, operations and contracts. He also directed the firm’s Alliance and Channel Sales Division. Crafts graduated with a double major from Duke University, and holds a J.D. from Berkeley’s Boalt Law School.
Courtesy of Sean Crafts | Startup Stock Photos