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Team Culture

Power Tools: Collaborative Apps for Organizing Your Team

We shortlist the most effective new desktop apps for increasing team collaboration, communication, and visibility.

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?

Comments (16)
  • Stephen Bates

    Nice little list. Surprised you didn’t take the opportunity to plug Action Method. I’ve been using Dropbox for a while now to store all my client files for freelance work since I often switch between laptop and desktop. I signed up for Action Method last week and I love it so far. I’ve even found myself using to keep track of non-work side projects and other things.

  • JM

    Thank you for introducing me to… amazing tool.

  • christian boyle

    LogMeIn. Immensely useful.

  • SP

    The Pivotal Tracker seems to be the answer to my dilemma. Lovely tool. Thanks for this great article!

  • Nathan Kontny

    We (Inkling) use pivotal tracker, and have been digging it. For just simple messaging we use a tool we built – Coincidentally, you can email features/bugs to pivotal from tgethr, as well as email files to dropbox using tgethr.

  • Maxime Gaudreau is also becoming a major collaboration platform. I am a real Google Docs fan but, for now, zoho is a more complete, integrated and flexible online collaboration suite.

  • Steve

    Evernote: Never loose anything, with Apps for all major platforms.

  • Robin Wong

    freemind is a good and free alternative to mindmeister, available on both mac and pc. Actionmethod, whilst nice, isn’t the most intuitive when it comes to sharing lists. Basecamp wins out for me, mainly because of it’s simplcity. Scrumy is quite a handy collaborative tool as well for scrumstyle lists with priorities and actions a focus.

  • Marius Moldovan

    I use Syncplicity instead of Dropbox and can tell it is really one of the best apps ever used. You just decide what folder you want to share and never mind the dropping of files. They det sync on your machine, online (great backup also), collaborators machine and of course client machine. Free as well.

  • Alex Kavel

    I swear by evernote.
    Works on everything, seamlessly.

  • Jm0868

    enjoy here

    i will be back soon

    True Blood DVD 1-3

  • Traveling bags

    Nice review ! I like your article and i will definitely look again……………………………………

  • Toby

    Planthat is a good nice and free alternative to pivotal.

  • free apps

    This type of practice would be acceptable if the ad content, and availability of a premium version of the app, were mentioned in the description. In too many cases, however, the app descriptions fail to mention the fact that the app is ad supported and a premium price is expected to remove the ads from the user’s experience. This type of trickery may be successful in some cases, but most of the time it merely inspires frustration on the part of the user, who will promptly delete the app in response to the disingenuous presentation of the app. Clearly a free app is difficult for any developer to justify. That does not, however, mean that app descriptions should be less than genuine, or that an app should be labeled as free, when there is really a cashtransaction in the mind of the developer. It is simply dishonest, immoral and today’s savvy users will most certainly respond to it in a negative manner.

  • Clockmeister

    Great list already. For tracking task I like asana. Good usability and great when working in teams.

  • Raymond George

    Do check Replicon’s time tracking software (… solution too. Easy to use, fast to implement and has great usability features and strong back up support.

  • Time Clock Software

    How about adding a time tracking tool such as Replicon to your list to make it perfect?

  • Carla Frett

    Mostly an organization tends to become organized when there resides proper manager to manage thing in a much better way. More over today the work force has gone so much of higher level that they too need automated tools and softwares for managing the things.

    In this wonderful list of collaboration apps I would like to add one more wonderful online tools that has been proved to be one of the best in the industry. The task management app from Replicon – that manages and tracks the tasks in a steady manner. More over any bugging coming into action gets resolved within a short span of time.

    I would like this tools as well to be added to the list of collaboration apps mentioned over here.

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