5 Free Web Tools to Ramp up Team Collaboration

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handshake 5 Free Web Tools to Ramp up Team Collaboration

Team collaboration online can be a painful thing: dissociated emails, scattered attachments and miscommunication can make even the most angelic of teams devolve into an unproductive mess. Whether you’re working on a school project or a multi-million dollar investment portfolio, if you’re pining for a way to get your team to work together effectively on the cloud, here are a few nifty solutions for you:

1. How To Stay On Top Of Things With Your Team With Your Mobile Device

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With the increasing prevalence of the iPhone and Android, it’s hard to ignore the possibility that your colleague or potential business partner has a smartphone or tablet in his or her possession; especially if you’re working in the fields of design, software or entertainment. Do and Asana are two of the most innovative social productivity apps to ever grace the App Store, and are excellent tools for helping the whole team stay updated all the time.

Where they excel is in their innovation of providing an on-the-fly platform where team members can be brought up to speed 10x quicker than you normally would be able to. With push notifications, a chat client, a to-do list, and a desktop app, you can just imagine how much faster tasks can be communicated along among your team members.

2. How To Keep Track Of Your Project’s Progress At a Glance

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Trello is a unique and innovative method of team planning which gives you a visual representation of the multiple projects that your team is presently working on. It works by acting as a sort of pin-board which allows you to pin “Cards” (which you’ve presumably categorized by your different projects) onto it, where you can track the progress of everyone’s individual tasks in all the projects at one glance. Think of it as providing a bird’s eye view of your entire to-do list.

Using the proprietary Card system, you can organize people, dates, tasks and plans as and when you need them in a visually stimulating way, similar to how you would use a regular physical pin-board to organize your work flow, except with the added power of social networking.

By this, it means that when a team member has completed his or her task, they can update you via their own Trello, or even suggest better ways of performing the task by editing the original Trello. To put it simply, it’s a way of archiving all those pesky emails on updates and suggestions in a logical and coherent way for everyone.

3. How To Draw Diagrams & Flowcharts In A Collaborative Environment

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Diagrams and flowcharts make for excellent feedback tools on historical performance or as teaching guides; unfortunately, creating them using Microsoft Visio can only be best described as “suffer now so it’s easier later”, putting off many a fresh entrée and robbing valuable time from even the most task-oriented team manager. Thankfully, there’s Cacoo, a free online diagramming solution which caters extensively with the layman in mind.

Firstly, it makes diagram and flowchart drawing a breeze (compared to Visio), enabling you to produce visual feedback for your team in an efficient manner. Secondly, it provides a cloud-based platform so that everything you create gets instantly shared among team members. And thirdly, it allows for real-time collaboration on your diagrams – so your team can work at different workstations on the same diagram – instead of having to meticulously pass a completed sheet from one person to another, saving time and frustration and improving communication at the same time.

4. How To Have “Face-To-Face” Conversations With Your Team Members

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If you missed Google Wave, and want an alternative, Co-Meeting provides a very similar experience. While the features provided are not as in-depth as Google Wave, it definitely harkens one back to similar feelings of productivity, and is as great a communicative tool in almost every way. As far as recommendations for online team-collaboration go, this is on top of my list.

5. How To Share Files With Team Members… Without Email!

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Tired of sending emails with attachments back and forth, and losing track of half of them, half of the time? I don’t doubt that anyone who regularly uses a computer for work hasn’t experienced this kind of dilemma, and it’s high time we found a way to overcome it.

The solution comes in the form of Dropbox, a highly innovative desktop client which automatically uploads anything you put in its allocated folder upon the moment you click ‘save’. This is like magic for a single user – and with the ability to share Dropbox contents with other Dropbox users, it creates a web of inter-connected people with a host of amazing benefits.

For one, everything you edit from the moment you click ‘save’ gets instantly uploaded to the cloud, so your team members have instant access to the most updated form of documents or spreadsheets at any point in time. Secondly, this completely negates the need for thumbdrives, saving precious time (and for particularly sensitive information, money) as you work on-the-go to meet pressing deadlines. If nothing else, it’s completely free, and creates an extensive network with which to share your assignments, financial reports, to-do lists and what not with your team members in a completely hassle-free way.

This post was written by Aaron Pek