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Collaboration may be the defining word of working practices in the digital era. But what tools can help support collaboration?
We have gone from the letter, sent by post, to the email, to instant messages. But there is one thing that these forms of communication have in common, they require a reply. Collaboration tools often mean that people can work on the same proposal, spreadsheet, presentation, or model, simultaneously.
A message used to be a distinct thing, for example a message containing an instruction or a request; now messages can form part of a document – for example suggesting that ‘this sentence be put in bold’ – or ‘how about if we say…’
Now, applying collaboration tools, multiple people can work on a document, a project, even an idea or design, making changes or suggesting modifications. It has become a truly interactive process allowing parallel work, rather than one person suggesting a change to a document, to have to wait for someone else to make that change, and then for other people to consider the revised changes.
But what collaboration tools are especially useful?
Yammer: Creates a single destination for messages, files, and updates, ‘where everyone has a view of what’s going on without all the usual back-and-forth.’
BinFire: For managing remote teams. It says: ’You need a place to have everything in your project organised and accessible. Nothing is lost, forgotten or overlooked. Have everybody in your team work from one great virtual office.’
Basecamp: Tool for managing a project: organises projects, internal communications, and client work in one place, creating what it calls ‘a central source of truth.’
Proofhub: Project management software to ‘plan, collaborate, organise and deliver projects of all sizes.’ It emphasises better planning and collaboration, enabling a project to stay organised and on time delivery.
Twproject: A good tool for splitting tasks between members of a team, supports prioritising of tasks, and keeps an up to date record.
Wimi: Can be used to centralise documents, tasks, calendars and discussions.
Slack: A messaging app designed for teams or communities – enabling members to communicate via a specific URL – it includes a chat room organised by topic, private groups and direct messaging.
Appear.in: A video conversation tool, in which up to eight people can engage in conversation – all each person has to do is call up a specific URL.
Skype: High quality video conversations for up to 10 people.
Google Hangout: Supports video conversation between large numbers of people.
Trello: A project management tool, a kind of to do list for multiple users in which progress updates can be communicated in real time, using a system of virtual cards.
Asana: Like Trello for managing long lists of things to do, but does not use a card system, some say it is better when the number of tasks are quite large, say over 10.
Dropbox: Provides access to all documents, files, articles from multiple gadgets. Supports creation of shared folders.
Google Docs: Particularly useful for more than one person, supports remote working on the same document.
InVision: A collaboration tool for designers, facilitating communication between clients and designers.
Red Pen: Product targeted at designers, supports feedback on designs and projects.
GoVisually: Tool for allowing freelancers, designers and artists to share their creative work. Supports commenting on a design and allowing others to join in. ‘When others reply, GoVisually will notify you.’
ConceptBoard: Targeted at creatives developing an ad, email or website, enabling people to review content via real time whiteboards that enable everyone in a team to work together.
Concept inbox: Helps creative teams work together, and interact with clients. It enables comments and real-time annotations on videos, design, image files and PDFs.
Cage: Enables the sharing of images, supports getting feedback and work getting approved.
Marqueed: A tool for uploading images, discussing them and making revisions.
Google Keep: Enables people to share their thoughts, and ideas with colleagues and friends.
Mural: Tool for online brainstorming targeted at remote design.
MindMeister: A mind mapping tool, enables users to capture, develop and share ideas visually: the mind map editor is used for ‘brainstorming, note taking, project planning and tons of other creative tasks.’ Mind maps are presented inside the web browser.
IdeaFlip: Designed to support group brainstorming, and the development of ideas.
Scribblar: This is like a chat room that includes video, useful for brainstorming, typically used for online tutorials.