With so many great apps out there to help you and your team collaborate, communicate and organize projects better, how do you choose which one to use?
A key aspect of successful collaboration is good communication. However, "good communication" means different things to different groups of people. For instance, a company-wide email may be fine for a small business, but if there are hundreds of employees the responses may be overwhelming! Communication needs also tend to vary depending what industry you're in. In other words, when choosing collaboration tools, the size and context (and thereby the communication needs) of the team must be taken into account.
We’ve put together a list of our favorite collaboration and organization apps below, grouped by team size and focus:
Microsoft Teams is a great solution for larger teams (or groups of teams), especially if you already have Office 365. Teams offers multiple ways to communicate from VoIP, messaging and even calling! For groups working in web development, Teams is great because it connects nicely with Vscode and allows for file storage and integration with all Microsoft apps and many others. Teams for Educators even allows teachers to make assignments and quizzes, leave notes, and grade student’s work via the Assignments tab.
Trello is a web app that allows users to make lists, but it’s much more than the post-it notes you use for grocery lists! Trello uses the concept of Kanban, a lean method for management that pairs work with the available capacity, eliminating overwork and focusing on tasks that need to get done the soonest. While this is lauded by big teams and execs, kanban concepts also work well for personal tasks and time management. A big plus - Trello is free and easy to use!
Monday.com is a web and mobile app platform that combines aspects of various lean systems to manage workflow, track projects and enable team collaboration. It has a simple individual pricing structure and smart looking aesthetic, making it great for mid-sized teams in every field from marketing and sales, to retail and HR. Like nearly all the platforms listed here, Monday integrates with other popular apps like Slack, Teams, Salesforce and many more!
Asana is a software-as-a-service that lets teams create projects, assign tasks, set deadlines and communicate all in one environment! This can be helpful if you have a lot of different tasks, dependent tasks or people who might bounce between projects. Asana is free for individuals (great for organizing homework assignments for students) or priced per user with a discount if you commit to annual billing.
While many other platforms offer meeting and video chat features, if you work for a larger company (especially one that handles medical data like a healthcare provider, and insurance company, or even a veterinary clinic) GoToMeeting is a great option that is very scalable and is HIPAA compliant across all of it’s plans! Unlike Zoom, GoToMeetings doesn’t have a free tier, but it’s plans are cheaper and allow more users than its competitors.
Slack is a popular platform that offers all the modern expectations for team communication - instant messaging, file transfers, threads, and integrates with most apps nicely. While Slack is free it does impose a limit of 10,000 archived messages - starting at under $10 per month/person you can unlock features like unlimited messages, group video calls, and even HIPAA-compliance in their enterprise plans.
Adobe Creative Cloud is a suite of design tools including Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and over a dozen more applications. At first glance, this collection of softwares may not seem like a collaboration tool, but several of the programs offer sharing and multiple-user-editing. We’ve heard of groups of photographers shooting weddings, syncing all the photos to Lightroom, all while one person picks and edits them in real time!
Milanote is a straight forward note-taking software that also allows you to upload files and drag-and-drop pictures to quickly create moodboards and mindmaps. A favorite among students, Milanote is free up to 100 notes then just under $10 monthly for the unlimited pro plan.
Discord started out as a platform for gamers to connect and chat with many channel features seen in services such as Slack. Since leaving its beta, Discord has drawn the attention of many groups outside of its original target, namely because of Discord’s great VoIP, video chat, and screen sharing capabilities. This program is free to use, but you can pay more for perks like better streaming quality, a feature originally aimed at gamers, but now equally suits educators and designers.
Nearly all of us are familiar with Google’s email, search tool and web browser. While it might be overlooked as a tool for organizing and collaborating with, Google’s G Suite offers many ways to communicate - such as email, video chat via Meet as well as allows simultaneous contributors on files in Drive, which makes it great for small teams to knock out content. G Suite starts at just $6 per month/user, but if you are thrifty and don’t mind smaller Meet groups or don’t need a professional domain name, nearly all of the tools in G Suite can be used for free with a standard Gmail account!
Final note: when picking and pairing these tools and apps for your team, it’s important to consider the size of your group and the scalability of the service (many of them offer enterprise pricing too). Ultimately, choose what works best for your team's specific needs -more often than not, that may actually mean using several different apps.
When using multiple apps, having a system in place to ensure consistency across the organization and that the team knows which apps to use for what project, as well as being able to easily distribute a set of apps to new team members, is a good idea.
Desktop.com offers a novel solution to organize your apps, web apps and links - all while having them conveniently tucked into one single icon or tab.