Exploring Online Collaboration Tools
June 18, 2019
June 18, 2019
Project management: Collaborating remotely with multiple partners is facilitated by sharing information – things like task lists, message boards, schedules, etc. A number of websites offer these services on the cloud. Perhaps the best known is Basecamp, but this space has become quite competitive, with players such as Zoho and Project2Manage also vying for your business. The business model of these companies is usually to offer you some 'lite' services for free, and then have you pay a monthly fee for scaled-up service.
Video-conferencing and screen-sharing: By now most of us have seen how video-conferencing on Skype or iChat can make interactions with friends and family more intimate, but many businesses still have not realized the full potential of this as a collaboration tool . Screen-sharing is an important feature on both these free applications; it let's the other person see what's on your screen, be it text, images, or video. iChat (Mac only) goes one better than Skype, and actually allows both parties to control the same computer. This facilitates creative discussions, since both parties can alternate control and show what they mean by drawing their concepts out.
More robust meeting services such as Cisco's WebEx and GoToMeetings / GoToWebinars allow meetings or presentations with video and screen-sharing for hundreds – or even thousands – of people, usually for a monthly subscription fee.
Timesheet: Whether your workers are on-site or working remotely, they need to fill out a timesheet in order to get paid and track expenses. Again, software-as-a-service providers step up to the plate. The company we use and are quite happy with is Paymo.biz. They have a number of options on how to report information and clock your hours, including punch-in timers and a desktop widgets. Paymo also integrates well with Basecamp. Other companies in the same space include ClockSpot and GetHarvest.
Real-time document sharing: When collaborating on writing a document with another person, sometimes it helps if both of you can see the edits as you're making them. If the parties all have a Google account, then GoogleDocs lets you do this quite easily. You can import from a number of different file types, maintain the formatting enough well, then export back out. Not only can you work on text documents, but also presentations, spread sheets, forms and drawings. If it pains you to pry yourself away from the Office suite, Microsoft offers the Office Live service, which also allows the sharing and online editing of documents without abandoning the interface you're used to.