Your job as the project manager is already difficult. Limited resources, a choked-up budget, and team members that don’t have a clear understanding of goals. Prioritizing and assigning tasks gets on your nerves. Tracking tasks is a nightmare with spreadsheets and emails. Giving your teams the visibility over what needs to be done is not as easy as it should be.
To streamline your tasks and get your project on track, you need a team collaboration app. Before choosing one, you should have a clear understanding of what you need in the tool.
Managing tasks and deadlines is one thing, but actually enabling teams to understand duties themselves is how an awesome project is executed. A good collaboration app will set up your teams to increase productivity and cross deadlines faster without losing quality of work.
Two functions of team collaboration apps
Collaboration apps have two main functions: coordinating tasks and facilitating communication. Let’s look at both in more detail.
1. Coordinating tasks
Work teams get together for a purpose, not just to hang out. Whatever project your team is working on can be broken down into individual tasks that need to be taken up by different people.
When you think about the ideal way for the project to flow, your team collaboration app should let you:
- Prioritize, assign, and track tasks
- List dependencies and timelines
- Get the project’s overview and progress
2. Facilitating communication
As work is executed, communication becomes essential. Team members discuss and share a lot of information to collaborate and get to know each other. This kind of communication happens in huge volumes. Your team makes numerous small decisions that impact the big picture.
A team collaboration app that is great in communication allows you to:
- Communicate in real-time (chat and video calls) and asynchronously (threaded discussions)
- Share information as updates
- Conduct polls for opinions
- Indulge in social networking within and across teams
7 team collaboration apps for better projects
Here are some team collaboration apps and an idea of where each of them are positioned in the communication and task management standpoint.
Trello by Atlassian is a very simple and intuitive team collaboration app for managing projects. The app operates with Kanban boards to host different steps of a project. It is great for simple projects but falls short on tracking and customization. It can handle personal work management easily, but it can struggle to manage the tasks of a team greater than three or four. The functionalities of the collaboration app reach the end line real quick because of limited communication features.
Asana comes with a few more features than Trello to manage projects better. The team collaboration app stores all data and metrics about current and past projects. Its time tracking feature is loved since it can track dependencies and ensure smooth execution. The only downside to Asana is user adoption. Having so many options visible to all team members can be daunting. They get overwhelmed looking at the tool, and sometimes end up feeling disconnected to the project. Coordination is great, but the communication needs are just barely met and not fulfilled.
3. Jira Software
Jira Software by Atlassian is an advanced team collaboration app for software development teams. It provides a case management solution that makes ticketing and other use cases easy. It has every feature to track dependencies, deadlines, and priorities. It has been designed and optimized for software development and support teams, which makes it less useful for other types of teams. It can get very complex to understand, and many situations don’t require the type of complex features they have. The coordination needs are very fulfilling for selected teams, but communication is still not very strong.
4. Workplace by Facebook
Workplaces will likely have the easiest implementation and adoption. Billions of people use Facebook, and most of your workforce is familiar with the interface. Navigating through Workplace is easy, and people quickly adapt to a common communication culture. It has all the necessities of a good communication tool like instant messaging, video chat, chat rooms, and social networking. However, it falls very short on the coordination side. Integrations with other project management systems are available, but they don’t provide enough tools within the app.
5. Microsoft Teams
Teams has become the most common team collaboration app in the project management world. It covers all the basic functionalities of a great communication tool. If you operate using the Microsoft suite of apps, it integrates with all of them and gives easy access to other Microsoft apps in the same screen. However, with excessive information, comes excessive confusion. Users have to sift through a web of options to get to where they want. It is a strong communication app, but the coordination is weak unless you pair it with something like MS Projects.
Slack is the team collaboration app that is grabbing a lot of eyes lately. Slack primarily functions with communication at its core. Channels are quick to create and access. The ease of use is amazing. However, you can easily get overwhelmed with all of the discussions going on and lose track of conversations. API integrations help to integrate software systems, but Slack doesn’t offer much out of the box for coordination.
Kissflow is one of the only collaboration apps that tries to bring both communication and collaboration in the same tool. Collaboration is done through social media-style channels. The project management tool operates with Kanban boards to give maximum flexibility and visibility to everyone on the team.
The downside of Kissflow in its current format is that it doesn’t boast highly advanced features in either communication or coordination. But if you are looking for something that can do both at a proficient level, there aren’t many other tools like it.
Buying two different team collaboration apps? Think again.
Usually, teams use two different collaboration apps for communication and coordination. Whenever you have to collaborate with a teammate, you drag work outside a project management tool like Asana into a chat tool like Teams and then collaborate. Although that seems harmless, it can introduce problems that you don’t even realize.
- Work gets pulled into multiple apps
- Secluded conversations
- Misinformation and communication gaps
- Zero visibility into all discussions
Contextual collaboration is the ideal solution that brings an end to these woes.
- Have work at the core and conversations happening around it
- Reduced app switching
- Increased visibility of discussions
- Structured conversations for quick reviews and decisions
- Minimized spending on apps
Laila Azzahra is a professional writer and blogger that loves to write about technology, business, entertainment, science, and health.