Your Guide to the Best Team Collaboration Software of 2021
Full Disclosure: We independently review the products and services that we share on VoIP Virtual. While no company can buy our editorial integrity, we do form paid partnerships with some of the providers mentioned here in exchange for more prominent positioning on the site. We may receive compensation if you click through these links and sign up for services. Nevertheless, our opinion is not influenced by these partnerships, and the presence of a provider on this page is not an endorsement of their services. Cloud-based team collaboration software makes it possible for your company to communicate and collaborate using real-time messaging and conferencing tools. Compare prices and find the right features for your business.
|HEADQUARTERS||Belmont, CA||Vancouver, Canada||San Francisco, CA||Mountain View, CA||Redmond, WA|
|LANGUAGE AVAILABILITY||English (US), Chinese (Simple and Traditional), Spanish, French, German, Italian, Russian, Portuguese (BR), Japanese, Korean, Dutch, Danish, Swedish, Finnish, Norwegian, Turkish, Czech, and Polish.||English||English||English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese (Brazilian), Russian, Spanish, and Turkish.||English (US), Chinese (Simple and Traditional), Spanish, French, German, Italian, Russian, Portuguese (BR), Japanese, Korean, Dutch, Danish, Swedish, Finnish, Norwegian, Turkish, Czech, and Polish.|
|TYPES OF SERVICE OFFERED||Team Messaging, Video Conferencing, Chat, Phone||Chat App||Project Management, Team collaboration||Collaboration, Project Management||Project Management, Team Collaboration|
|MOST POPULAR PLAN||Office Premium||Standard||Premium||Business||Office 365 Business Essentials|
|MONTHLY COST||$19.99||$6.67 per active user per month||$8.33 per user per month||$24.80 per user||$5 per user per month|
|MONEY BACK GUARANTEE||30 days free trial. Cancel anytime.||No||No||No||No|
|FREE TRIAL||Yes||No||No, can use Free Version to try out||No||Yes|
|MONTH TO MONTH OPTION||Yes||Yes||No||No||Yes|
|ANNUAL PREPAY DISCOUNT||Yes||Yes||No||No||Yes|
|WEB BROWSER ACCESS||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Yes|
|ALL AVAILABLE FEATURES, & PRICING|
|BEST PRACTICE TEMPLATES|
|FEEDBACK IN CONTEXT|
|FILE STORAGE LIMIT|
|USER AND CONTENT PERMISSIONS|
Team Collaboration Software Makes Your Business More Productive
Keeping track of everything on your to-do list is difficult. We have a hard enough time remembering all the little things we have to do to manage our own lives. Now imagine just how much harder it is to keep track of all the tasks your business has on its plate. Numerous workers are juggling dozens of items and deliverables every day. Team collaboration software can make sure that nobody drops the ball.
Even if your business is just starting out and spreading its wings, it doesn’t take long for your team members to feel overwhelmed as the business grows. Most business owners’ first reaction is to hire more staff to compensate for the increased workload. But it would be better to have more efficient team members before you go adding more. Perhaps the existing ones can get more done. Let’s see how.
What Is Team Collaboration Software?
Team collaboration software is a term that refers to software specifically designed to help your team members work together smoothly and complete projects successfully. These programs allow users to see your organization’s overarching objectives and their individual roles in achieving them. They provide valuable information on the status of projects, deadlines, and deliverables.
Most team collaboration solutions can be run out of your web browser. Some may have apps that you can install on your desktop or mobile device. In either case, you’ll be able to see real-time updates to your project status and receive notifications that remind your crew what they need to do.
Collaboration tools are perfect for any project that involves collaboration between multiple team members, or even multiple teams. It doesn’t matter if you only have two people working on a project, or 20. You can even invite clients or third parties to participate as guests with some types of collaboration software.
Why Are Team Collaboration Tools Necessary?
Your business might be able to get things done using a mess of various tools for different tasks. For example, you have your emails open in one tab, your files open in Google Drive, and a messaging app open on the side. As you shuffle between your windows to keep business moving, one of your files gets lost in the mix. You miss an important message. You completely forget about one of your clients.
These scenarios are far too common. Your team members are only human, and the more programs and tools they need to use, the more likely they are to make mistakes. Furthermore, constantly switching between programs slows your staff down and limits their productivity. Did you know that just adding a second monitor to a computer tends to increase productivity by up to 30%?
Consolidating your tasks into a single piece of software has the exact same effect! Instead of spreading out your work, you bring it all together and make it easier for employees to get work done. It’s high time you adopt a more efficient method of working. Let’s take a look at how team collaboration software can make specific tasks easier.
Specific Applications for Team Collaboration Software
Just about every team collaboration tool will have modules or sections dedicated to the following functions. Of course, not every tool is created equal. Some have a greater emphasis on project management, while others are more focused on communications. Consider what your business does most and which of these situations is most important for you.
One of the core features of team collaboration software is a project management suite. Here you can create templates for projects if you regularly use the same workflow to get things done. Your project will be organized into phases, which you can define yourself. You can also assign a project manager and decide which teams need to work on the project.
If your team collaboration software allows it, you can invite your client into your project as a guest so they can give approval or comment on the ongoing work. You can limit what they can see so that you can still talk about them behind their back if they’re driving you crazy with edit requests.
The project management section is essential, and you should make sure you ask for a free trial to give it a test drive. It can save you tons of time, but if it isn’t flexible enough to adapt to your workflow, it may be best to find another tool.
Tasks and projects go hand in hand. A project essentially is a collection of tasks to achieve a goal. So you need to be able to manage those individual tasks efficiently. That’s where the task management section of team collaboration tools enters the picture.
This section allows users to see what tasks they have pending and even which ones their fellow colleagues are working on. Tracking in real-time makes it possible to see progress, and some software even allows you to create your own status tags so that you can put funny titles like “Not even close to done” instead of “Not Started”.
Deadlines will be visible to everyone, as will the name of the person assigned to the task. The best collaboration tools will push updates to their mobile app, ensuring that your employees have to go completely off the grid to forget about something.
Team collaboration requires effective communication between coworkers. If your team can’t easily talk back and forth and discuss their work, then you’ll just have a bunch of individuals acting in their own little bubbles. You need team collaboration software with a strong communication platform.
Team messaging is a must. Make sure your software of choice allows you to send messages to both individuals and groups or teams. Instant messaging is useful, but you may also want to find software with the option to have a video conference or a voice call. Remember, the goal is to consolidate all of your productivity software into one space. If you’re already using Zoom, you might as well find software that can do that too.
Being able to leave messages or comments on tasks is another important feature. If your client calls with an important change to a project, you need to be able to deliver that information straight to the person who needs it most. Instead of getting up and moseying over to their cubicle, just leave a note on the project or task and you’re good to go!
When multiple people need to work on the same task or project, you need team collaboration tools. These allow your workers to work together on the same task in real-time. Features for this purpose include file sharing and screen sharing. If you already have a tool for this, like Drive or Dropbox, look for team collaboration software that allows you to integrate these other apps into the platform.
Collaboration tools also make it easier for new people to get involved in a project. Imagine you hire someone new who has no idea what you’re working on. How would you get that person up to speed in as little time as possible? The traditional way would be to sit them down and explain all of the tasks they have and give them a lengthy backstory of the project.
With team collaboration software, all you have to do is assign that new employee a role and a project. They’ll automatically be able to see every task that has been completed and can immediately understand your workflow. If they have questions, they’ll know precisely who to ask because their colleagues’ names are stamped on each item.
Features of the Best Collaboration Software
Having looked at the four main aspects of team collaboration programs, we need to examine the specific features within those areas. We’ve touched on some of these already, but there’s more to consider. Again, evaluate what your business needs. There is no one best tool for everyone.
Messaging is pretty straightforward. You want the ability to send messages to individuals and teams at the very least. But more advanced messaging software can do some nifty tricks. For instance, whenever you send a link to a coworker, the software can open a preview on the side or save it in a list of links for future reference.
Likewise, the best software has forwarding and the power to tag other users, sending them a notification that they’re needed or being gossiped about in the conversation. For maximum fun, make sure your software’s messaging suite has emoji and GIF support, we all need a chuckle now and then.
Video conferencing is super useful for team collaboration. Especially now that we have tons of employees working remotely, video features have never been more crucial. Ease of use is important here as well. It should be as easy as a single click for a team member to make a meeting or join one.
Screen sharing should also be included in any team collaboration package. Often this is part of your video meeting app. Mobile apps may have some trouble using this feature, so check with your team collaboration program provider to see which platforms support screen share.
When it comes to managing a project, you need to be able to see the big picture. That’s where dashboards come into play. It’s especially important for project managers and administrators to use dashboards to see what’s going on. However, they can also be useful for an individual team member.
The dashboard is typically the first place you land when you log in. It’ll show you which projects are top priority, what tasks need to get done, and include any other useful notifications. These dashboards update in real-time. Keep your finger on the pulse of your business with a smart dashboard.
Activity Logs and Project Status Tracking
Even with team collaboration tools, you’re still going to need to review your workflow and optimize your processes. While tools like these help teams to work more efficiently, if you haven’t designed your workflow properly you won’t get those sweet productivity gains.
The solution is to use activity logs and project tracking to see how efficient your work is. If you notice that certain tasks are taking too long, maybe it’s time to dedicate more people to that assignment.
Cloud-Based File Management
Whether you need a team member to share a file with another, or you simply need a safe space to store your files, a cloud-based team collaboration program is a must. You can access your files from anywhere, which is great for workers who rack up those frequent flier miles.
These features make it easy for any team member to work from home as well. Every team could use the cloud and you’ll never have to worry about missing files or accidental duplicates.
Team collaboration is impossible if the whole team can’t work together. But some people use Mac, some people use PC, and others live on tablets and mobile phones. While most team collaboration programs work from a web browser, it would be good to find ones that have mobile apps. Web browser applications rarely present themselves well on mobile devices due to the awkward screen shapes and sizes of mobile devices.
Having an app specifically designed for iPads or Android phones will make it easy for your whole team to collaborate regardless of what device they’re on. They can even turn bathroom time into productive team collaboration time!
Chances are your business already has some kind of team collaboration system, using another company’s programs. Whether that’s Microsoft 365 or Google’s offerings, you might not want to completely abandon your existing methods. Look for team collaboration solutions with features that include integrations with other apps.
Collaboration Tool Pricing
Let’s talk money. Most team collaboration programs will charge you per user per month. If you pay for the whole year upfront, you’ll get a per user per month discount. Generally, the price per user goes down as you add more users, so big businesses get a better deal.
Before you go out and splurge on team collaboration programs, ask for a free trial. Some even have a free version that you can use for an unlimited time. Of course, that’s just to get your teams hooked and chances are the free version won’t have everything you want from your team collaboration solution.
Regardless, explore your options and find the collaboration system that has the features you need at the price you can afford. We’ll help you figure it out with reviews of the top team collaboration providers.