Power Tools: Collaborative Apps for Organizing Your Team

Ideas don’t become a reality in isolation – teams, collaborators, and opinion-givers are a powerful part of the execution process. Here, we run down the tools we’re currently using – in addition to our own Action Method project management app, of course – to communicate and push ideas forward.
Yammer/Co-op. A one-stop aggregator for office news and beyond.
A Behance team favorite, Yammer has become our go-to tool for aggregating office conversation. We prefer to use it informally, collecting funny videos, announcing meetings, and posting product specs, but the Groups feature allows for a myriad of organizational options. Harvest also recently launched a similar product, Co-op, with some really cool upgrades. The right-side toolbar allows each user to create a focus area, as well as view the most current status on each member of a specified group. [Free]Pivotal Tracker. Bug, feature, and task tracking made simple.

Tracking, logging, and following up on bugs and new features is a crucial activity for any company involved in web development. Nonetheless, many small businesses continue to struggle with managing this ongoing task. Based on simple Agile methods, this program allows you to create “stories” to be moved through the development process. The graphic breakdown of each story into items like “feature” or “chore” make this system nicely visual, while the interactive calendar allows for both a quick-view element and long-term planning. [Free]

Google Forms. Gather and aggregate group data in a snap.

Google Forms are one of the tech giant’s most under-utilized features – a simple, streamlined way to gather data. Want to ask your colleagues to help you prioritize the coming year’s projects? Create a Form and then track all of the responses via a linked spreadsheet. Unfortunately, there aren’t any design capabilities here, so it’s not the most beautiful for client-facing stuff. That said, if you can stomach the lack of design, Forms are also an incredibly simple way to put together web surveys on the fly. (The ability to embed them directly into an email is pretty cool, too). [Free]

Dropbox. Share, backup, present, and sync files seamlessly.

This program has tons of great file-sharing capabilities. Throw a presentation into a folder, request sharing with your client, and it’s added directly into a file on their own computer (no downloading necessary). Likewise, files can be easily synced between two computers (say, home and office), or backed up onto the online system for later recovery. If you still feel you don’t have your files accessible in enough places, download the iPhone app for on-the-go reference. [2GB free; 50 GB $9.99/mo.]

Mindmeister. Collaborative flowcharts.

Whether creating org charts, workflow processes, or site maps, this program makes collaborative brainstorming easy. Intuitive, vibrant, and visual, the real-time creation of maps is made all the more simple via the system’s multiple access points: desktop, online, widgets, and mobile.
[3 Maps Free; Premium $59.00/year]

What Do You Use?

Are there any great applications that we’re missing? What tools does your team use to collaborate effectively?

More insights on: Collaboration, Office Dynamics
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