7 useful collaboration tools for freelancers and professionals
Online collaboration is becoming increasingly important, mainly due to the rising demands of professionals and freelancers to make the most of limited time, and the difficulty in getting key stakeholders around a table at the same time.
There is an array of excellent collaboration tools that can vastly improve productivity, reduce travel time and expense, and allow freelancers to work with organisations worldwide. Here are seven collaboration tools that could help you and your business.
1. Google Groups
Google Groups enables like-minded people to discuss, debate, point to helpful sources and answer questions without any constraints. Users can rate posts in terms of helpfulness, and look at answers from similar-themed topics, whilst ensuring all responses are delivered from an easily-filtered e-mail source. It allows users to quickly get together and get talking. The fact it integrates with the free to use Google Drive is an added bonus.
This tool allows you to conduct meetings with up to ten attendees, with no fee. Online meetings can be held within your browser. In addition, the tool integrates with Skype to give you analytics of your meetings so you can see how participants interacted with your content. Paid members can enjoy other features, such as sharing and recording.
Essentially, Co-op is similar to a basic forum, incorporating tools that allow participants to work on related projects simultaneously. One huge benefit of this approach is that, rather than interacting at the present moment, clients can sit aside until a co-worker decides to interact with them. Some of the best tools include link sharing, time tracking, agenda exchange and updates of your project's status. This allows you to rewind time to find out who updated or completed it and when.
This is a private social network, designed specifically for small businesses. It comes as standalone open source software, enabling anyone to create their individual private social network. It behaves just like any social media channel; you can craft groups for smaller projects, share media, 'reshare' files between members, and much more. In addition, it has an open API, enabling you to add other functionalities and features to it as your needs grow.
Stixy is a communal area for post-it-style ideas. It is designed for personal projects, especially for designers or any professional who wants to gather resources, make notes and comments on files and add to-dos. The 'drag n drop' post-it notes are very simple to use and are great for managing basic schedules. Designers can use this tool to receive feedback on images.
If you don't have a dedicated conference call facility, Powwownow is an excellent solution. After signing up on their website, you are assigned a unique PIN number to share with your callers. Callers then dial Powwownow's dial-in number, enter your PIN and are connected to the same call. There's no need to book or set up billing - you are simply charged the cost of an 0844 call which is added to your usual phone bill.
Hugely popular amongst creative teams, Cage allows you to track projects, tasks and amendments as well as allowing your client to sign off on proofs and log into a secure area. The free solution includes 1GB of storage and access for 2 team members - ideal for start ups - right through to 30GB of storage and unlimited users for large businesses.
Please note: Markel do not endorse or recommend any one product and this information is intended as a guide only.