What’s that sound? It’s the sound of the modern, collaborative workforce. Chances are, you’re in an office right now. Or maybe you’re working alone, but communicating with teams across the country.
Pause and think for a minute: isn’t this amazing?
It’s fascinating to watch the online collaboration tools of the workplace evolve right before our eyes. A short generation ago, many people used a version of Microsoft Office that required a download to your computer, and to share anything you were excited to print out pages for your boss one office over.
That was the only way for them to see it! Crazy. And now we’re in an era where communication, review, approvals, task management and more are only a few clicks away. Because collaboration tools keep changing and the possibilities continue to expand, it’s always important to review a list like this to ensure you stay on the cutting edge and find the best tools to improve your team collaboration.
Note: For more tips check out our guide on how to be more productive.
Project Management & Productivity
If you’re looking for top-notch project management and productivity software, that was made for everyday people, not official project manager types, then ClickUp is your choice. As a top-notch productivity platform, you’ll be more organized than ever before. Here are some of the features that place it a cut above the rest:
- Assigned Comments – Instantly create and assign action items for yourself or others.
- Multiple Assignees – Collaborate together on a single task – if your Space allows it.
- Custom Statuses – Customize your workflow with statuses to fit each individual project.
- Rich Text Editing & Markup– With ClickUp’s intuitively beautiful rich formatting interface, there’s no need to limit a task to only basic text. And use markup language as you go, right inside ClickUp.
- Three Different Views – List View, Board View, and Box View offer the perfect view for developers, managers, and everything in between.
- Priorities – Create custom priority levels, and organize tasks based on their importance to a project.
- Notepad — Need to jot a quick reminder? Or take notes during a meeting? You can do it right inside ClickUp.
- Task Tray – Stop the tabs! Minimize your top tasks and leave them at the bottom of your browser window. You can return back to them when you’re ready.
And it’s easy to try. You can start with a forever free plan right away!
Don’t believe us? Here’s what Merchant Maverick had to say:
“Remarkable. It is smooth, beautiful and, most importantly, intuitive… ClickUp is on its way to being a household name in this industry.”
ClickUp is suited for waterfall, agile, or whatever model works best for you and your team on any given project. It puts you in the driver’s seat and adapts for your own personal approach and the approach of anyone you’re collaborating with.
A project management tool should serve the user’s style, not govern it, and ClickUp is designed for just that purpose.
What are you waiting for? Try ClickUp today.
Monday (formerly known as Dapulse) has grown in popularity because it’s a very simple tool to use. It gives you a great high-level overview of the status of your work, which makes it an appealing option for a lot of people. From the main dashboard of Monday/Dapulse, you can add new rows or tasks, assign tasks to team members and view your project timeline. However, there are a few drawbacks…for instance, if you add in more than 20 tasks it becomes unwieldy. And there are no recurring tasks or a great way to collaborate on tasks, such as assigning more than one person to help you on a project. Also there’s no forever free version, only a free trial.
Basecamp is a perfectly adequate project management tool in many ways. They have a top-notch messaging platform that promotes collaboration, a handy universal search, a central place for files and a simple task management that’s great for small team collaboration. Basecamp also has a great a portal for outside clients to discuss work with the main project team, without altering any of the plans.
See how ClickUp compares to Basecamp.
Asana is one of the leaders of modern project management, having taken a very complex and rigid framework for a collaboration software solution and made it beautiful and easy to use. In many ways, they brought project management and collaboration to the masses. But that doesn’t mean there are no problems with Asana.
In fact, Click has addressed some problems that Asana overlooked. The multitask toolbar allows you to make changes in bulk. Super rich editing is perfect for getting more creative with a task. Need to assign a task to more than one person? No problem.
In a very similar way to Asana, Trello has also changed the face of project management tools by taking a different route, by offering card and board views. This popular Kanban-style look has really taken off with Scrum and Agile teams or as a personal to-do list.
Trello is simple. With boards, you can get a quick view of any project and see who’s responsible for completing each task. One issue with Trello is that they depend on lots of integrations. Now, that’s not necessarily bad–but what do you actually get? It’s a basic framework with lots of add-ons. You’re always on the hunt for new integrations and solutions, instead of choosing one productivity software that can really do the job for you.
If you like folders, then Wrike is for you. They nest each of the project tasks and subtasks into more and more folders. If you’re trying to see what is where and who is working on what with top tasks for the week, Wrike’s dashboard and reporting is very solid for that. But like I said: folders. That seems very mid-90s to me, but hey, some people like it. Wrike only offers one type of view and you’ll be using the search function a lot, which is great actually.
Check out this blog post if you’re interested in learning more about Wrike and Wrike alternatives.
Filestage is a creative project management solution that allows you to review and approve content and streamline your creative processes. The software will work seamlessly with your existing workflows by offering different (internal and external) review steps. You can quickly get visual feedback from co-workers and clients. They can merely annotate videos, designs, and documents and add change requests.
Reviewers don’t need to sign up for an account but are able to comment in their browser directly. Even if you’re running huge projects, thanks to Filestage’s documentation system, you can keep track of all versions and comments. Filestage offers a free 14-day trial to help you get started.
Week Plan is a task management software that makes teams more productive and effective. Inspired from 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and OKR (Objective Key Results) framework, Week Plan is designed to make your team more effective.
Week Plan allows you to prioritize your goals and objectives, key results you want to achieve and the high priority tasks that will get you there. This enables in prioritizing each day on tasks that will drive the best impact on your organization’s goals.
Trusted by over half a million users, Week Plan provides native integration with Google Calendar, Outlook Calendar, SMS integration and over 400+ apps via Zapier. Besides web-based delivery, Week Plan provides purpose-built apps for Android, iOS, Windows, Gmail and Chrome.
At ClickUp, we use Slack as our conference line as well as text communication tool. It’s success is well-known, and it’s helpful to filter messages and conversations via channels. This keeps things organized and helps others stay on topic. Replies also help where you can take a conversation or comment deeper. The dangerous part of Slack as a collaboration tool is that you may include too many details or info about a project, and then things could get lost. We’ve integrated our Slack with our tasks in ClickUp so we know exactly what we’re referring to. Their app integrations is one of the reasons why Slack has become such an essential tool for collaboration and chat.
Note: Looking for productivity apps on your phone? Check out this post!
Welp, this is the Slack killer — or at least Google hopes it will be. It’s Google entering the business communication arena, not just messaging with your friends from college. I’m sure some businesses already use GChat to talk with colleagues, but Hangouts Chat adds channels and group functionality. The real killer here is the (potential) seamless integration of Google Docs, Sheets and Drive files. How much easier would it be to edit a document in real time with Hangouts Chat? And what if Google killed any Slack API integrations? We’ll see how this plays out. Anyway, if you’re a heavy Google user but haven’t hopped on the Slack bandwagon, here’s your chance.
Welp, Atlassian had to kill HipChat, because it wasn’t living up to its name. Now, they’re hoping to compete with the cultural phenomenon(?) that is Slack with Stride. What makes Stride different? You can file messages away in a makeshift to-do list, asking for action or decision. You can also go into “Focus Mode” which is a way of muting everyone around you. Atlassian is capping their API somewhat too so not every GIF maker under the sun can integrate with it. I’ll see say one thing: if Stride is anything like JIRA then I don’t want anything to do with it. Maybe you’ll feel differently?
This longtime leader is easier to use than GoToMeeting and gives you the chance to have meetings, online demos or webinars in one platform. Advanced features include selective screensharing–some participants can see the presenter’s screen and others can’t. If your company uses Microsoft Outlook, then this is a top selection: it’s easy to schedule directly from Outlook with the Zoom plugins. It also has breakout rooms, meaning participants can gather in side video conversations without ever losing the main feed. This is very helpful to discuss the material when running a large webinar or training session.
Appear.in has simplified the process of logging on and video conferencing with your team. It’s taken away the clunky logins of competitors and instead directs you to a simple URL. Users can have their own “room” where you can then invite others. You can claim the URL as your own (like in your own name) or set up specific spaces for teams and departments. And there’s no extra software to download; everything happens right in your browser making real-time collaboration as simple as possible. For a browser-based application, it’s remarkably stable even while handling that much data. I’ve used it to conference with team members from across time zones and across oceans. It’s a top collaboration tool that you should definitely add to your arsenal.
Google makes things simple of course, and often gets the job done even without offering too many features. You just share a link with your team and go (as long as they’re signed into Google of course). There are no extra plugins or extensions and you can join directly from a Google Calendar invite. This also makes it simple to join from your mobile device, something other players still have an issue with. Google Hangouts is a great choice for quick team online meetings. Webinars and other presentations won’t necessarily work here.
Great webinar service doesn’t have to cost a fortune. ClickMeeting’s webinars are backed up by secure data centers around the world, with massive bandwidth, a backup recovery system and more. It’s easy to get started and you can customize your webinar room, host paid webinars, engage with clients or host informational meetings for teams across your organization.
Document Collaboration Tools
What has made Dropbox one of the most fundamental and essential cloud storage and file sharing companies for more than a decade? It’s a simple experience that’s essentially frictionless. It’s like you’re storing documents and notes right on your hard drive, by dragging the appropriate files over to that little blue and white icon. It’s instantly familiar and instantly available. Also, you can send files to non-Dropbox users with a simple link–which pulls more people into their ecosystem (clever!). Dropbox has made their name on the consumer side of things, but they’ve been rapidly expanding their enterprise options.
When Google Drive added their storage suite and document collaboration tools, it was a stroke of genius. They recognized an opportunity to create simpler tools than what standard bearers like Microsoft had been offering for file sharing. And moving easily between email, spreadsheets, presentations and document creation is almost frictionless. They also offer a ton of storage for a low price, so implementing Google Drive and GSuite tools for your whole team is simple and definitely worth the price.
This is Microsoft’s Google Drive competitor. It is indispensable, especially if you work at an organization that uses Microsoft365 and the web version of Outlook. It’s easy to share documents across platforms with your colleagues and to work collaborative in a Word or Excel doc. The downside comes with proofing, editing and sharing with clients outside of Microsoft365, which is where Dropbox or Box may be a better option.
The difference between Box and Dropbox has been well-debated, but here’s the TL;DR version: Box is way more focused on security. Protecting info such as personal identification, financial data or private financial information but still sharing in the cloud is where Box makes their bones. These aren’t just vacation photos; this is for companies that deal with top-secret stuff, HIPAA health info and other fields with sensitive info–, this is important. Sharing that info is easier in the cloud yes, but it’s also easier to hack. Box gives you the convenience of cloud-sharing with increased security and encryption.
This easy-to-use browser extension is a knowledge management solution that keeps your customer-facing teams up-to-date, consistent, and confident with trusted knowledge that’s accessible in every application you use. Support teams can use this to remember product nuances, known issues, and saved responses. It’s a great way to keep responses consistent and is extremely helpful when you bring on a new team member as they can locate all processes within one easy search.
Unlike Guru, this is mostly an archive for internal documents that you and your team may need access to. You can record team meetings, memos, strategy documents, budgets and more here so that it’s easily accessible. You can also set permissions to allow access only to certain people. It’s also great for storing info about events or future plans for your team, though sometimes it can get a little unwieldy that way. It’s an Atlassian product and integrates with JIRA, allowing you to record info for product releases, feature updates and more.
Github is the standard bearer for version control and sharing your code and designs across the web. You probably know that already. Here’s what you may not know: Github integrates with ClickUp, too. Yep, that’s right!. Your favorite place to store and share code also works with your favorite project management system and productivity platform. You can see a record of any pushes you make to Github right away. Here’s more about how it works.
Help Scout actually makes customer service interactions personable. It’s a great way to file tickets, monitor customer conversations, record response times and combine group inboxes. Tagging, saved replies, and even collaboration detection helps keep your team from working on the same support tickets or giving contradictory answers. And don’t forget: Help Scout integrates directly with ClickUp!
This platform makes it easy for sales teams to generate new leads and support teams to chat with new and existing clients. A chat solution like intercom allows your team to engage with clients instantly in a personable way and put a face with the rep their currently chatting with. The best part about the platform is how it integrates with a lot of other collaboration softwares, making working together even easier!
With Support Bee, you get a shared inbox that lets your whole team respond to support tickets when they come in. If your support team needs backup or a more in-depth answer, it’s easy to tag and find the subject matter expert who can help right away. You even get unlimited tickets in their free plan. And for ClickUp users, you can create tasks to follow-up on any tickets with the simple integration.
Front is a shared inbox that allows you to manage all customer conversations within one place. With this application, you have the ability to assign messages and/or emails to teammates, write comments for internal collaboration, snooze emails to respond later, quickly chat with clients, and create templates for common questions. Front has all the necessary tools to ensure your entire client success team stays on the same page, remains on top of the bugs reported, and reaches out to the client in a timely manner.
This is the granddaddy of them all. Salesforce essentially pioneered cloud-based customer relationship management. How did people get company records straight before Salesforce? I guess in a folder in a file cabinet somewhere. Makes sense. But Salesforce lets team members see the activity and status for each of your key contacts, and even ranks them in priority. The big selling point for Salesforce these days is how much integration it has–it can connect to your marketing automation, to your company message board and a whole more.
Their reporting dashboard will show you how close you are to meeting your sales goals, how individual sales reps are doing and the strength of your pipeline.
Meant for small and mid-size companies, Hubspot CRM offers a clear and simple way for your sales team to track their prospects, contacts and sales without the messier usability issues of larger CRM systems (like Salesforce).
Oh yeah, it’s free to start, too. It doesn’t include product catalogs or standardized product quotes, but it does include email response templates. These will help your sales people craft interesting emails in a snap. Best of all, it coordinates with Hubspot Marketing Automation, adjusting the scores of your prospects based on what content they view or download.
NOTE: Read more about how your digital agency can you use ClickUp!
What sets Pipedrive apart is their high-level overviews. You’ll see where contacts stand in the sales process, what activity needs to take place and even use nice drag-and-drop functionality to move contacts into different stages. From there you can take a deep dive into individual accounts. Pipedrive also gives you a big picture of how your pipeline is performing, identifying your best targets and the chance of them being closed.
Close has a user-friendly interface which will shorten the learning curve for your sales team. The activity is connected directly to the contacts, and you can even make calls right from the app. It also threads all of the email conversations together in one view, and allows you to do mini email blasts in a few easy clicks–possibly taking away your need for marketing automation.
Mockplus iDoc is a powerful product design collaboration tool for designers and developers. It helps connect the entire product design workflow. It facilitates handoff by taking designs from Sketch, Adobe XD, PS and exporting into a format that can generate code snippets, specs, and assets. Main features include:
• Export designs in one click from Sketch, Adobe XD and Photoshop
• Generate accurate specs, assets, code snippets automatically
• Show design tasks and workflow in full-view storyboard
• Comment right on designs to give instant feedback
• Build hi-fi interactive prototypes with real design files
• Support uploading various types of product documents and preview online
Pass finished designs, web pages or collateral mockups back and forth for review and approval. Invision offers collaborative commenting with suggested edits. This is for the finishing stages of your work–everything is set up and almost ready to go, except for a few more tweaks here and there. It also gives you a space to talk specifically about design ideas, improving your collaboration and workflow.
Figma is the dream collaborative tool for designers and marketers alike. With the ability to draw basic shapes for mockups and wireframes, to prototyping, the ability to create high fidelity vectors and even a code pass-off. At ClickUp, we use Figma in all stages of our design process. Figma holds a likeness to Google Docs of the design world, allowing users to collaborate on the same artboard in real time. We share a library of assets approved by our designers to speed up the process between wireframe and ready-to-code design!
This designer-developer handoff tool is the most collaborative and accurate way to translate static images to interactive websites. Zeplin is the tool we prefer for passing off designs to our developers! Thankfully the ease of pushing from Figma is as simple as setting up your accounts and pushing a button! Since the marketers are the ones typically in charge of how a user thinks, the in- context communication that Zeplin offers with comments ensures very little miscommunication!
We use Frame.io for all of our video content versioning. We can comment on exact time stamps for the editor to know promptly what can be improved, and upload the new version with side by side views of the old! This tool is integrated with the Adobe suite and Final cut, allowing users to upload versions extremely easily without the need to export, and keeps video creation in context and collaborative.
Any marketer or business dev representative or product manager needs to have Canva in their workflow. I love their take on the market, by creating an in-between product that’s more feature-rich than something like a sketch tool, but isn’t nearly as complex as Photoshop or other design tools. It’s for quickly creating social media images, blog headers, charts or visually-stunning presentations in fast way. Their template options are great and handy in a pinch, plus they offer stock photos and illustrations or you can upload your own.
Don’t try to make complex design tools do something they weren’t mean to do. If you’re looking for a quick way to create mockups, wireframes and MVP designs, then Balsamiq is it. It’s stripped down for a reason–it’s only supposed to be for wireframes, nothing else. If your team works on a lot of product or feature pages, or if you work with clients who like an example of what you’re talking about without getting bogged down into color combinations, try out Balsamiq.
CloudApp is a screen grab app that allows you to communicate visually! You can create videos, gifs, screenshots and annotated screenshots that can be embedded into conversations inside of ClickUp by pasting the link or dragging from the Cloudapp extension. We utilize the ‘business’ subscription for communicating about website changes, answering customer questions clearly and capturing bugs in process to help the developers.
Time Tracking Tools
Time Doctor not only tracks time but also will take screenshots of your team’s computers to ensure that they’re working when they’re supposed to. This helps your team’s productivity flourish because you ensure your team is working instead of perusing the Internet in non-productive ways. You’ll also see where your team may be stuck in working or helping out a client, and learn which tasks are taking more time than they should be.
Measure time, expenses, invoicing and scheduling all within one time-tracking app. You’ll also get great reports about how your team spends their time, which projects are taking the longest and more. This will help you estimate the time spent on future projects and where you may need more resources. Another plus? Harvest also integrates with ClickUp.
What’s super nice about Toggl is their browser extension. Instead of flipping back over to start and stop time for the tasks you’re working on, you can tap a button on your browser. That’s very convenient. Each user also receives visual reports to see where they’ve been spending their time. Users can then adjust from there, to alter their schedule and their focus. You’ll also get a quick snapshot of estimated vs. actual time for a project, helping you plan for what’s next. Does it integrate with ClickUp? Oh yes.
Ever Hour is the drop-dead simple way to help your whole team measure the time they spend on projects. Each person on your team can track their time, which simplifies your payroll and also gives you an idea of how much time a worker spends on tasks and assignments. Managers and team leads will receive reports about what each team member worked on that day or week. You can drill down on specific tasks and set timers so that your team doesn’t exceed the set number of hours.
Yep, that’s right: ClickUp is not only a powerful productivity platform and project management tool, it’s an amazing way to track your time and estimates as well. Install the ClickUp chrome extension (coming soon!) and you can track your time in ClickUp no matter what tabs are open or what code you’ll working away at.
Keep track of your employees in the field or remotely with ActiTime and the ActiTime app which makes it easy to track time away from a computer. With ActiTime’s enhanced capabilities, it helps accounts keep track of all billable hours, helps team managers with project scope and lets individual contributors improve their productivity. You can also install a local version of ActiTime if your company feels more comfortable with that security, rather than just a cloud app.
Use an online booking calendar like SuperSaaS to help with events that you need to schedule. You can accept online appointments for everything from appointments to reserving your guest room. You’ll get a customizable platform that also sends confirmations and reminders. You can also set updates for how far in advance or for how often they can book. SuperSaaS is easy to customize to match your website’s design.
Other Essential Tools
Zapier automates a lot of the small tasks that you may do manually, such as archiving your email attachments directly into Dropbox, autofilling Google sheets with form entries and more. Zapier automates so many things across your workflows without any extra code. You can start for free or pay premium for even more complex workflows. Also, see what you can automate with Zapier and ClickUp.
AppOptics empowers developers, operations engineers, DevOps practitioners, and IT professionals to better manage, optimize, and troubleshoot the full stack at every layer!
To do so, it offers broad application performance monitoring (APM) language support with auto-instrumentation, distributed tracing functionality, and a host agent supported by a large open community to enable expanded infrastructure monitoring capabilities and comprehensive visibility through converged dashboards. Check it out!
Called the glue of the internet (I like that!), Integromat is more for the technically minded than Zapier or IFTTT. It can handle JSON requests, transactions, and http / soap requests, in addition to connecting your email to a spreadsheet. Integromat also logs every transaction, letting you see the exact steps it took to make something happen. Some people are into that, others are overwhelmed by it. You’ll have to see for yourself which style works for you. Here’s how you can connect Integromat and ClickUp together.
Gain more leads from website visitors and improve your cart abandonment rates with Poptin. Their tools help your lead conversion and your team doesn’t even need to know code. Just tap into one of their great templates and watch more leads roll in.
Stackify is a much more affordable application performance monitoring software than the other guys out there 🙂 With Retrace, you can quickly assess what changes were made and the impact they’re having with centralized logging and bug tracking. You’ll also get the info you need to make changes that fix the problem, rather than other types of tools that only tell you there is a problem.
What do you think? Which collaboration tools are you ready to implement right away?
Remember, no one collaboration tool or software will be a silver bullet and solve every problem, but add these to your tech stack and your team will be humming along beautifully as they get their work done, of course.