What are the best online collaboration tools for virtual teams in 2019? Our team analyzed the most popular solutions on the market and came up with a list of 15 best collaboration software systems you should consider for your company.
Managing a virtual team poses a challenge that’s unique from a traditional team. The most obvious, of course, is the lack of actual contact or face-to-face interaction. The importance of face-to-face meeting can never be stressed enough. They facilitate a better understanding of interacting parties through non-verbal cues and body language. Conversations in these situations also tend to be lighter, therefore, presenting new opportunities, along with the fact that different social interactions take place during such meetings.
Access and advances in cloud technology make interacting with virtual teams more “face to face” than ever. It’s the next best thing, and for some, virtual team management has become the order of the day, especially when cost and talent sourcing come into play.
In this guide, we line up the 15 best online collaboration tools for virtual teams. These tools share communication, project management and document management features among them, designed to move tasks and projects from initiation to completion. We also highlight the unique features of each of these collaboration tools software to help you match your priority needs with the right product.
Using even the best collaboration tools software is no guarantee your virtual team will be efficient and productive. Not the software’s fault though. For example, if you’re handling a global virtual team, one of the common costs is gender and cultural misunderstanding. But in reality, the prevalence of gender and intercultural misunderstanding can be managed.
You can avoid common virtual team issues when you keep in mind these factors even as you get your hands on the best technology there is:
monday.com, formerly Dapulse, is the top cloud collaboration software. It helps you streamline the process of contributions from team members, from ideas to solutions and insights. The software is built on a social collaboration structure that makes it easy and quick for members to swap insights. There’s hardly training required; the software is intuitive even for the least technologically savvy.
The software also organizes progress data in an intuitive way that makes it simple to monitor projects and daily activities. It uses rows, called pulses, to keep all communication in one board. You can mention users or groups, comment or thumb up a team member’s work and get notified via mobile or desktop in real-time. Likewise, it lets you drag and drop files in one location and share this centralized knowledge bank with your team.
Also, advanced scheduling feature for tasks and projects ensures against manual entry errors. The software notifies you of overlapping schedules or approaching deadlines, which is helpful to manage shared resources or keep a close tab on deliverables. Also, the IM chat tool is so simple to use. You can easily search for relevant information.
monday.com is perfect for online collaboration and project management. It is sleek, powerful, and will get a ton of work done. You can try all its premium features at no cost when you sign up for monday.com free trial here.
Wrike has consistently been in the top three of our lists because it is one of the most scalable cloud project management solutions fitted with collaboration tools that can keep your team in sync and updated with each other’s tasks and activities. Its 3-Pane Project View makes it easy to see the big picture in one glance while allowing you to drill down to details of individual tasks. This means project leaders can cut to the clutter of daily activities, yet maintain control on specific areas that require attention, such as bottlenecks or issues. Likewise, the whole team can communicate via the activity stream using @mentions, giving all users direct access to each other for urgent issues.
Wrike is just as easy to adopt for a single project as handling multiple ones simultaneously. It uses folders and tags that allow you to organize tasks and subtasks in a hierarchy across one or more projects. Once you log into the system, the left pane on the dashboard shows the folder structure, while the middle pane shows the specific project’s tasks. The right pane, on the other hand, details the individual tasks, while an activity stream lets you scroll up and down for the most recent activities.
This simple setup means you can focus on overall progress to aid you in strategic decisions, while still keeping a hands-on control over each team member’s progress. You are also within earshot of each individual team member, so communication is fast and clear. For example, a user can send you a direct request or idea and, with your approval, can be shared at once with the entire team for action. Even non-Wrike users, like suppliers or a creative agency, can be invited to participate to give everyone clear visibility and clarity.
Likewise, Wrike forms enable you to simplify and prioritize work requests including issue/change requests, creative briefs, and proposals.
Overall, Wrike is a reliable tool for virtual teams for task management, task prioritization, workload management, and interactive Gantt chart timeline. You can sign up for Wrike free trial here.
Smartsheet is an enterprise collaboration tool that is accessible from any device and browser, making it ideal for virtual teams. It combines the time-tested use of spreadsheets with the ease of a visual timeline and basic collaboration tools like file sharing, Gantt charts and discussions.
The software also lets you automate workflows and can be customized to unique processes. For extended capabilities, it integrates with important productivity tools and systems like Google Apps, Salesforce and Box.
Other key features include email integration, version control, task management, project hierarchy and web forms. You can sign up for Smartsheet free trial here.
Clarizen is an enterprise-grade, collaborative work management software designed to help businesses of all sizes simplify work and increase accountability. A leap above the traditional work management solutions, Clarizen offers features that enable users to drive focus, increase effectiveness, and respond expediently to all project-related issues. The platform allows all businesses, including those operating in multiple locations, to gain full visibility into projects and budgets by connecting people, work, and business with transparency and full context.
Clarizen is ideal for businesses looking to connect the planning and execution cycles. Notably, it’s built for organizations that want to improve how employees collaborate and how plans are conceptualized and implemented to support the company’s goals. With Clarizen, project teams get the perfect opportunity to collaborate and deliver higher Return on Investments (ROI) even on constricted timelines.
If you want to investigate the features closely, you can easily sign up for Clarizen free trial here.
Zoho Projects is a free online collaboration and project management tool that scales to paid plans. The free app features the software’s core features like project feeds, task management, and document sharing. It’s good for one project with 10 MB storage capacity.
On the other hand, the paid plans provide more advanced features. For example, you get an intranet-based project wiki to place all related project data in one place, which you can share with all team members. You also get an hourly task and subtask tracker to keep you in the loop in real time. This tool is useful for bug tracking and similar break-fix tasks that require immediate resolution.
The software also features standard project management tools like Gantt Charts, project reports, and time tracking.
Asana helps you nurture a culture of accountability in your organization. Tasks and responsibilities are clear to each member, including how they impact on each other’s outputs.
It lets you create and assign tasks within a project and follow their progress to completion using various browsers or devices. Team members can be added on demand to each task for urgent or long-term collaboration and all parties communicate in a single platform. Users are notified of their tasks or project updates in their Asana inbox. You won’t be needing to email or use third-party communication tools to keep tab of each other’s work.
As a centralized cloud platform, the software helps you map out the steps with visible tasks in each phase, leading to the project goal. You can see at once the big picture and details, which gives you full control over the project’s progress.
Trello uses boards, lists and cards to move projects and tasks from start to finish. The visual layout makes it easy to organize, prioritize or adjust tasks and schedule as the project progresses. Also, the cards act as a collaboration space to discuss, share files or comment on specific tasks, issues or ideas that the card represents.
Trello follows the Kanban method of organizing projects and how team members collaborate. The board represents one project (you can have as many boards as you want), while a list is a project stage. The cards fit into the list, with each one representing an individual task, idea, insight or any related unit element. The lists can be organized into the typical “To Do,” “Doing” and “Done” stages or customized to your workflow. On the other hand, the cards can be moved across the lists as each card is accomplished or resolved.
The software has an introductory free app for small projects that lets you use the boards, lists, and cards. It can also scale to advanced features like SSL data encryption, data filtering, developer API and voting feature for enterprise projects.
The Microsoft-owned Yammer connects your teams, wherever they are, to collaborate in real time and accomplish tasks within the deadline. All team members are kept in the loop whether it’s an urgent announcement, shared file or top-level update.
The software helps you initiate spontaneous discussions around tasks and issues and resolve them with the experts in your organizations. It can act as an internal help desk channel as much as it allows communication between your teams and specialists.
Likewise, tasks are clearly mapped out so overlapping or double tasks are avoided. With Yammer, it’s also easy to nurture your teams into a community with shared insights, practices, and files.
Citrix’s Podio is another reliable cloud collaboration software with a free app. It allows for up to five employees and teams featuring Podio apps and core features. For an unlimited number of employee seats and teams and other advanced tools, Podio scales to enterprise plans.
The software organizes content, conversations, and processes in one place, which helps the team focus on goals with clearly defined steps. You can also assign a role category for each member, for example, as workspace admin, regular or light member. As the admin, you have granular control capabilities to share or protect workspaces.
Likewise, the software permits permission-based external party collaboration, such as clients and freelancers. It can also be customized for unique workflows.
Creativity 365 is a document management software with useful collaboration tools for creative projects. We included it in our list of top 15 online collaboration tools for virtual teams because it helps teams realize concept into outputs.
It organizes data and features sharing tools that help accomplish tasks. For example, you can gather all key signatures using the software’s Pocket Scanner tool, cutting this lengthy process to just two days. The tool uses PDF Markup and can be delivered via mobile device with time and date stamps.
Aside from this tool, the software features a suite of functionalities such as a file sharing animation, multimedia editing and document conversion.
Atlassian Confluence makes it at tenth place in our top 15 online collaboration tools for virtual teams for its rich content editor that you can plug in your web browser. It’s a little tool that goes a long way to processing product requirements, project plans, meeting notes and other project-related tasks. The software allows your team to share, create and discuss in one location while giving you a centralized visibility on the project’s progress.
Furthermore, the software lets you get feedback organized in a comment thread for easy processing. It uses social media-inspired tools such as likes, comments, and mentions to gauge feedback and encourage team members to be more engaging and involved.
The software also adapts to agile projects and features custom layouts for unique workflows. Other key features to note include a knowledge base, drag and drop editing, live search macro and JIRA integration for extended functionalities.
Prezi is a cloud presentation solution that helps you create and show creative presentations using collaboration tools. It acts like a digital canvas where you can zoom in and out and pan left to right to give your presentation depth. It can be used for business and education to help you get your message across with clarity.
You and your team can work on the software using animation and effects to add emphasis on the slideshow and keep the audience’ attention. It is straightforward to use even for a new team member, whether for product presentation, educational awareness or any important message.
Key features to note include timeline templates, Android presentation and URL embedding.
Wiredrive acts as a centralized workspace for virtual creative teams where they can upload, organize and manage access project files. It allows for creating custom reels and automatic save that syncs recent updates across devices.
Users can monitor file modifications and notify other users of a new change or file for viewing. The software streamlines the creative approval process also, engaging team leaders and top-level decision makers to share their comments or stamp their yes to a given output.
The app can be used for creating galleries, custom slide shows, and other creative presentations. Key features to note include global collaboration, batch media upload, and instant file preview.
BoardDocs is a cloud collaboration tool specific to board management and designed for public school boards and nonprofits. You can use the online boards to crowdsource ideas, formulate guidelines, discuss issues or implement policies in your organization. The tool proves useful for collaborative online meetings.
You can quickly prepare agendas, meeting minutes and attach supporting files. Likewise, agenda items can be closely tied to goals lending to your project a clearly defined path and keeping a tight control over collaboration and deliverables. Video conferencing with recordings is also available in this software. Key features to note include approval trees, dynamic agenda creation, and user-defined library categories.
Social Tables is an online event collaboration software that links both planners and venue owners to work closely together for planned occasions. The app allows virtual teams to work in the cloud across event stages, from planning to execution. It’s a useful tool if you’re conducting events outside of your state or region.
It features guest management, table charts and seating plan using an intuitive design that requires no coding skills. Because the app gives you visibility and tracking tools, guests are better managed and check-ins are smooth. As a testament to its reliability, the app is used by leading industry names such as Hyatt, Sheraton and Harvard Business School.
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