The internet has ushered in a level of collaboration unimaginable to workers of decades past. Today we're taking a look at five popular tools for collaborating with your team to get things done.
Photo by ralphbijker.
Basecamp (Web-Based, $US24-$149 per month)
Basecamp is an easy-to-use, all-in-one collaboration dashboard for your team. To-do lists, calendars, brain-storming white boards, chat, and file sharing are all integrated into your Basecamp portal. All the information for your team and the projects you're working on can be easily reviewed from the Overview tab to give you a quick at-a-glance view of how things are progressing, due dates, and recent activity. Basecamp plans range from $US24 a month for a small volume of projects (limit 15, 5GB of storage) to $US149 a month for large companies (unlimited, 75GB of storage).
Google Wave (Web-Based, Free)
Google Wave is the new kid on the collaborative block. Google Wave just isn't a new collaborative tool, but a new way of collaborating—so much so that it is initially confusing to many users. Google Wave merges elements of tools you're already familiar with: email, IM, social networking and wikis. A wave is like a real-time collaborative document that also doubles as a living archive of the project you're working on. One of the interesting features of Google Wave is that when you're new to a given project, you can "play" the wave to see how the development of the project has unfolded and what branches and forks discussion and planning have taken. Want to get a better grasp of Wave? Check out some of our previous articles like this video on Google Wave, Google Wave 101, and check The Complete Guide to Google Wave by our own Gina Trapani and Adam Pash.
Microsoft Office SharePoint (Web-Based, Variable)
SharePoint is a diverse set of tools created by Microsoft for doing everything from managing a project wiki to sharing documents and files to group collaboration. It isn't the kind of tool you'd deploy for a small project with only a handful of participants, but for enterprise-level project and portal management, SharePoint offers a host of tools that are well integrated and customizable.
Google Docs (Web-Based, Free)
On the scene long before Google Wave, Google Docs provides an easy to set up collaborative office space. From text documents to spreadsheets, Docs allows you to quickly and easily create and share documents with anyone. Google Docs certainly isn't the only cloud-based document collaboration service, but thanks to ease of use, no fees, and additional features like the ability to edit offline using Google Gears, it has won over a sizable share of the market.
Email (Cross-platform, Free)
Sometimes the best collaboration tool isn't the one with the most bells and whistles, it's the one that the most number of people are familiar and comfortable with. A significant number of people reading this article right now were born after email was invented, and it's been around long enough that even people born well before email became a popular communication tool are quite comfortable using it. It has its limitations—we've all certainly been annoyed at attachment limitations and other matters—but email has played a huge role in workplace collaboration for more than forty years. Can't believe your favourite tool didn't make the top five? Let's hear about it in the comments.