Five Top (Free) Virtual Collaboration Tools
- PROJECT ORGANIZATION: Trello.
Trello is a very easy way to organize what needs to be done, by when, and who is responsible. You organize cards onto lists. You can label the lists any way you choose: they could be different projects, days or months of a calendar, events or locations, for example. The cards have an easily viewable front and back. The front provides a quick overview of the task, while the back contains all the details you might need: checklist, links, photos, sketches, attachments, dates, comments, etc. You can color-code card labels and filter by keywords or person. Trello keeps a record of everything that has happened, and any changes or additions that were made. To help prevent you from missing deadlines, cards change color as task due-dates approach. Trello can cut down on a lot of scrambling for files or information, as everything is available to everyone all in one place.
Pricing: Free, though of course there is a “Gold” level for US$5/month, and a “Business Class” for US$25/month, both with enhanced features.
- PROJECT MANAGEMENT: Podio.
Incredibly highly reviewed tool to communicate, organize and track a group’s work. Workspaces, tasks, chat, and unlimited access to their very cool free apps.
Pricing: Up to 5 people who share the same email domain are free. Paid plans start at US$9/employee/month.
- CHAT: HipChat
I’d call HipChat the Skype for teams. HipChat has persistent group chat rooms where team members can text ideas to one another, as well as drag-and-drop files to share and get immediate feedback. HipChat maintains an SSL-encrypted complete history of files and chat, so that if you’re away for a few days you can easily catch up with what the team has been doing in your absence. Team members can hop to a 1:1 private chat anytime, or call team members into a meeting to make decisions. HipChat has push notifications to keep you up-to-date even if you’re out of the office. It claims to be usable on any device, has desktop, mobile and web apps for quicker and easier access, and integrates with customer service apps and social media.
Pricing: Free for teams of up to five. Above that number it costs US$2/user/month. They offer a free 30-day trial.
- GROUP BRAINSTORMING: Scribblar
Scribblar is an online whiteboard, usable by multiple people simultaneously. What better way to share ideas? Whether you’re brainstorming a campaign, visualizing a graphic, or mindmapping a project, Scribblar would work well. It also has audio, text chat, and document upload.
Pricing: Free for up to two users/room. Paid plans start at US$9/month.
- SCREEN SHARING: Join.me
Do you need to show colleagues a work-in-progress? Do you need to demo a new software? We have been using Join.me in our office for quite some time. It’s a great, quick, easy way to share what you see on your screen with others. Users can talk, swap files, share their screens with each other or trade control of one another’s computers to diagnose and fix problems. You can obtain a dedicated url and desktop app, so that you can log in quickly and easily, or you can visit the site and get a url on-the-fly. Also works on mobile devices.
Pricing: Up to 10 users for free.
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