COLLABORATION TOOLS OF THE TRADE


Many processes within the business environment have become remote as a result of COVID-19. Selecting the right collaboration tools is a big factor in the success of remote working teams.

We know that everyone loves Microsoft Excel and its flexibility, but it’s essential to understand its limitations and risks when used for collaboration. ‘Ease of use’ is just one of many critical factors in selecting the right collaboration tools.

Below are some tools worth considering, if not in place already:

Electronic Kanban Boards

  • Microsoft Planner – a very user-friendly tool useful for simple tasks, quickly set up buckets for Backlog, To Do, Doing and Done. On the other hand, it does not have an option to assign, e.g. “@name” or accepts posting images within the comments.

  • Trello – Boards are flexible, shareable and provide plenty of space to add detail to each task. Since its acquisition by Atlassian, it has had its capabilities enhanced, mostly regarding its connectivity to the company’s suite of products (Jira, Confluence, and others).

  • Asana – A useful web and mobile tool that offers a free plan. Despite its lack of reporting functions, it has a heap of features which is great for medium to large teams.

  • Jira – Probably the most powerful of the board tools, it is fantastic because it is so easy to learn and it will synchronise with virtually any other software you can find. However, it does create a new version of what they call “schemes”, which means that new projects are often not sharing settings and standardising them can be challenging.

  • Azure-DevOps – A robust tool which enables arranging complex systems into manageable workloads, it is a much more advanced version of Planner, and it can be easily managed as part of the Office365 subscription you might already have. Still, when compared to Jira, it has a much more limited marketplace, and it is not as popular.

Team Communication

  • Microsoft Teams with Whiteboard – One of the great things about Microsoft is that there are so many additional integrations that can occur across each of their tools. Whiteboard is an example of this, which permits participants to draw and write together on a shared digital canvas.

  • Slack – An excellent alternative to email and provides options for guest accounts for people outside your team. As it is platform-agnostic, it can integrate into a multitude of different systems. Like Teams, it has video and audio options and screen sharing. It is difficult to find things in Slack though and may be considered by some as disorganised.

Knowledge Sharing

  • Confluence – A potent tool, which allows the team to share not only their knowledge, but what they are working on, meeting minutes, project information, or even personal blogs. It also has multiple templates for Spaces (sections) and Pages which can streamline the content creation.

  • SharePoint Wiki – A popular tool with almost infinite capabilities, SharePoint is a big name on the market. On the other hand, it has a document-centric approach and still not a user-friendly wiki.

Video Conferencing Options

  • Zoom – Very easy to set up and use. Currently free for meetings up to 40 minutes. Questions around the security of this tool are yet to be fully understood.

  • Microsoft Teams (in conjunction with the Meeting Owl) – We have already briefly touched on Microsoft Teams and its many integrations, and video is one of these too. Pre-COVID we would integrate Teams with the Meeting Owl by Owl Labs. As workers return to work together in the office setting we may see more use of this moving forward.

Documentation and File Sharing

  • Microsoft OneDrive – Cloud-based, it has many fantastic business integration features. The speed of syncing documents to your local computer drive can be a challenge, and given today’s environment, we need to be confident that the information stored online is the most up-to-date.

  • Google Drive – Another cloud-based solution, it relies heavily on Google’s Suite of online tools (Gmail, Google Docs, Hangouts) to be used to its full capacity, inducing teams not to store in the cloud, but to work online directly.

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