Even before the global pandemic disrupted everything in its wake, online collaboration tools were worth their weight in gold.
From team communication to project management to anything and everything beyond: if you need to get something done with other members of your team, you can be sure there’s an app for that!
This is the essence of what collaboration tools are, and what they do: they allow you and other members of your team to collaborate harmoniously.
But which ones are worth your time, effort and maybe even your budget? We've rounded up the best team collaboration tools around, across a range of functions.
Communication Collaboration Tools
Team collaboration is only as strong as your team’s communication, and luckily, there are so many free online collaboration tools to choose from!
Here are our favorites:
- Slack: A set of online collaboration tools across instant messaging, chat, screen sharing and more. You’ll enjoy Slack’s numerous (and seamless) integrations, perfectly designed for all kinds of team collaboration.
- Flowdock: If you're looking for a remote collaboration tool that allows you to keep an eye on whole team notifications cross-platform, then Flowdock is well worth your time. We really love how it aggregates notifications across social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), project management apps (Asana) and other customer service channels.
- GoToMeeting: Looking for team collaboration tools that are a little more versatile and reliable than Zoom or Google Hangouts? GoToMeeting allows you and your team to schedule meetings, chat and share screens.
Project Management Remote Collaboration Tools
Just as important as collaboration tools for managing a remote team, project management tools are invaluable.
- Asana: One of the agile world’s favorite tools, Asana is presented in a range of displays (Kanban, anyone?) with full functionality: add to tasks, add followers to different cards, monitor deadlines, add graphs such as sprint burndown, and more. It integrates with virtually every other app you'll ever need and is a fantastic option to keep all team members aligned.
- Trello: One of the simplest free online collaboration tools, you can use Trello via its web app, browser version or mobile app to simply and easily drag and drop different tasks (‘cards’) across projects (‘boards’). It's an incredibly easy way to manage User Stories and Sprints in general.
- Jira: A Dev team favorite, Jira allows teams to remotely collaborate on tasks, projects, Sprints and more. Although it doesn't have a free version, it's well-loved by enough Dev teams to make it a winning online collaboration tool in our books, not least for its excellent dashboard and integration with every useful tool you might need during a sprint.
Development Collaboration Tools
During the entire Sprint cycle (from the initial planning, to creating user stories, running a Sprint retrospective, review and then continuing the cycle), no man is an island, and no task is one person's sole responsibility.
Having a range of online collaboration tools to allow all stakeholders to work together can make all the difference between a Sprint that runs, and a Sprint that runs as successfully as possible.
Our favorites are:
- GitLab: The all-in-one DevOps platform with all the team collaboration tools developers need. There’s a free version too, although for the extended functions like roadmaps, merge approvals, burndown charts and more, you’ll need to go premium.
- Codingteam: A solid set of remote collaboration tools with which developers can write, share and QA their code collaboratively for a transparent overview and promoting teamwork.
- Google Docs: Across GSuite’s helpful collaboration tools for business tools ( honorable mention to Google Sheets), every team member can access, edit and share all the files they want and need.
Choosing the Best Collaboration Tools for Your Remote Team
Of course, every team’s needs will differ according to a range of factors and circumstances. Here’s what we recommend you take into consideration when choosing remote collaboration tools for your team:
- The size of the team, and the roles and stakeholders in it. For example, a smaller team may be able to make do with a set of free collaboration tools to fulfill their needs, while a larger team will likely need a paid set to access all of the features they need.
- The type of collaboration tools needed. We've given you three different options above – communication, project management and development online collaboration tools – but even within these there is a range of different features and functionalities you might need (or not) and look for (or feel they are unnecessary to pay for).
- The ease of use and integrations available. Online collaboration tools are a fabulous way to enhance productivity and connectivity, but only if they serve the purposes you need them to serve. Our tip? Look for collaboration tools with a range of useful (or automated) integrations, to help your collaboration processes run more smoothly.
The Bottom Line on Team Collaboration Tools
Regardless of where your team may be working from, one thing's for certain: in order to function efficiently and produce the best work and outcomes possible, collaboration tools are a necessity. Knowing exactly the type of team collaboration tools you need and what purposes they will solve for your team's work can go a long way in helping you find the exact right ones for your team.