Top 5 Web-Based Collaboration Tools for Small Businesses
BY: BRIAN HUGHES ON THURSDAY, JULY 02, 2015
Whether your project team members are in the next cubicle or three time zones away, affordable web-based collaboration tools are empowering small businesses to manage diverse teams. Sure, you may already be a master at using Google Docs, but what about managing project deadlines, task assignment and video conferencing? From online meetings to project management, here are five budget-friendly web-based solutions for improving your small business’s productivity.
The problem: Managing a diverse team of freelancers.
The solution: Redbooth.
From designers to writers, freelancers increasingly fill important niches for small businesses on both short-term and long-term projects. But managing a creative brainstorming session when half the team is scattered across the country and multiple time zones can be difficult. Redbooth makes it easier by creating virtual workspaces where team members can connect via HD video to remotely share ideas and brainstorm. Redbooth’s Gmail and Outlook plugins plus full Google Drive and DropBox integration make sharing (and saving) ideas a snap. For small businesses, pricing starts at $5/month with a free 30-day trial offer.
The problem: Your project to-do list is spiraling out of control.
The solution: Producteev.
When you’ve got 10 different project to-do lists, keeping track of who’s done what (and what’s top priority) can be a struggle. Put an end to your to-do list blues with Producteev, which has a real-time workspace that functions like a to-do list. Add collaborators, assign tasks, run status reports and managing deadlines. Producteev is my personal favorite solution for tracking projects with big to-do lists and keeping everyone on the same page.
The problem: Getting everyone in the same place for a meeting.
The solution: ClickMeeting.
When your client’s in Seattle, your project leader is in Chicago and your office is in Boston, getting everyone together for a quick in-person meeting doesn’t make logistical sense. While I’m a fan of free virtual meeting services like Google Hangouts and Skype, Click Meeting offers helpful extras that make for a streamlined, easy meeting. These include a use-friendly layout with quick links for the webcam, participation list, chat box and presentation for easy desktop sharing. This powerful hosting platform also doubles as an easy-to-use webinar service plus moderated Q&A chat.
The problem: Project task management emails have taken over your inbox.
The solution: Asana.
Still trying to track project tasks and communication via email? Let’s be honest: figuring out what needs to get done and finding the right information in an email can be next to impossible. Did Alex send that status update yesterday or this morning? Did Sarah add a new task to the project list? With Asana, team communication has been reimagined from the ground up. Conversations with project members are tracked in one place so everything that is discussed can be turned into actionable tasks. Even better, since Asana has an easy-to-use iOS and Android app, you don’t have to be chained to your computer to update a project status.
The problem: You’re missing out on the bigger picture because of all the details.
Your solution: 10,000ft
Get the bigger picture for your small business, teams and projects with 10,00ft. Know who works on what in real-time, see when team members become available, and track project budgets and time spent. Spot who is available to work on projects, schedule upcoming project assignments, and view the weekly “forecast” to know what to expect. Collapse the schedule to instantly see who has availability and who is overbooked (or who is on the road, in meetings or on vacation). Best of all, 10,000ft makes it easier to identify potential bottlenecks and shift priorities, preventing lost time and productivity.
Web-based tools for small businesses can make it easier to collaborate on projects regardless of time zone or location. And it’s not just workplace collaboration that will benefit; these tools are also beneficial for improving work-from-home productivity, especially with more team members (or yourself even) telecommuting to work. I’m partial to apps like Toggl that help me better track my hourly time dedicated to each project.
What web-based tools or apps do you find most effective for enhancing your small business’s productivity? I’d love to learn more about your favorites here.
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