Completion of big projects is better carried out through effective team collaboration. But sometimes, when collaborating with a team, confusion in roles, team vision and goals can’t be avoided, especially if members are collaborating remotely. Adding more organization and transparency into the overall picture, down to the tiniest bits of tasks, can help teams easily comprehend and follow directions without getting lost or isolated.
Collaboration is founded principally on effective communication. And while email is an effective communication tool, it is not necessarily the best collaborative tool to grace the world of work. Among other things, with email, tasks can get lost or buried under a pile of other messages, document versions can get mixed up, and collaborators may have a hard time sifting through messages to find the data or information they need to carry out their assigned tasks.
This being the case, here are five collaboration applications you can test for free to ensure teamwork and productivity:
#1. Social Collaboration
Bitrix24 is a social collaboration application that’s offered free for small businesses with a total of 12 team members. While free, it’s packed with a whole slew of capabilities that include project and task management, activity streaming, a fully functional CRM, real-time viewing, instant messaging, phone and video conferencing, time tracker, daily planner, workforce and reports management, file/document upload and sharing, among other things.
With over 25 HR tools, such as absence chart, private social network, resume storage, centralized searchable employee directory, organizational chart, leave/time-off requests, and more, Bitrix24 can also be used as a human resources information system (HRIS).
For companies of more than 12 users, upgrade starts at $99 per month for unlimited users.
#2. List Collaboration and Sharing
A to-do list at the core, WorkFlowy is a browser-based organization and task management tool that’s fast, simple and easy to use, with nearly every function available via a keyboard shortcut. Your document or to-do list is instantly turned into a web page with a URL that is shareable.
You can share parts or sublists that others can update and collaborate on with you, a feature also available during live use. For example, when taking notes, you can readily share your notes to other users as you take them. Anyone can view and edit a separate copy even without having to create their own
For those interested in the Pro version that includes unlimited lists, automatic backup of data to Dropbox, password-protected collaboration, premium support and more, upgrade costs $49 per year.
#3. Collaborative Mind Mapping
Mindmeister is a mind-mapping application that you can use alone to map your thoughts or expound on an idea, or for collaboration with other members of a team. Its visual style of mapping data online allows users to easily brainstorm with as many others in real time. Another nice feature of Mindmeister is its change history function, which is perfect for reviewing edits made to the main mind map.
With its Web 2.0 functionality, you can expect user experience to be breezy and uncomplicated, so you can be sure to integrate the app into your operations quite easily.
The free/basic application allows sharing, import and collaboration of up to three maps. Upgrades cost $5.99 per month for a Personal account, $9.99 for Pro and $14.99 for Business accounts.
#4. Visual Collaboration
If you’re into something resembling a real environment, Mural.ly is an artful choice with its post-it-inspired interface. Aesthetically pleasing, the environment is called a mural and is a charming visual stimulation for collaborators. With its real-time capability, you can see pictures of other users who are participating in your mural, much like a social media profile picture.
Borne out of videogame developers’ needs, Mural.ly was first created to find a way to create an online inspiration board out of pictures, music, videos, quotes, and the like that would also let teams to shape their ideas collectively.
The free account allows you two murals and one room with 50 collaborators. Upgrade price starts at $29 per month, depending on which of the currently available, specifically tailored products you choose for your purposes.
#5. Wiki-Style Collaboration
Previously called PBWiki, PBWorks is a hosted wiki-style collaboration solution that’s suited for educational and organizational purposes. Progress monitoring and live editing updates are made easy with IM and Twitter-like functions integrated into the system. PBWorks supports real-time discussion among collaborators even while doing live editing.
This feature also works for voice, such as in audio web conferencing, so you can collaborate with real-time audio while working on a project, all without having to go through the normal procedures required in other web conferencing tools. Sessions can be stored and recorded automatically.
A free account includes five workspaces, 50 MB of storage, 15 internal and five external users, and a free email for customer support.
Image credit: Vlado | FreeDigitalPhotos.net