Top 15 Online Collaboration Tools for Virtual Teams

Wrike: Top Collaboration Tool

USER SATISFACTION 99%
OUR SCORE 9.7

What are the top online collaboration tools for virtual teams in 2018? 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. 

What are the top 15 online collaboration tools for virtual teams?

  1. Wrike
  2. Monday.com
  3. Smartsheet
  4. Zoho Projects
  5. Asana
  6. Trello
  7. Yammer
  8. Podio
  9. Creativity 365
  10. Atlassian Confluence
  11. Prezi
  12. Wiredrive
  13. BoardDocs
  14. Social Tables
  15. Samepage

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 meetin, said Michael Massari (Senior Vice President of National Meetings and Events) in a Forbes interview, is still the best way to gain attention, engage and collaborate with the other party.

We won’t argue with Massari’s point, but 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 the future of work, to managing a team, especially when cost and talent sourcing come into play.

In this guide, we line up the top 15 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.

A Few Tips to Remember

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 cultural misunderstanding. But in reality, the prevalence of intercultural misunderstanding is manageable, as noted in Trends in Global Virtual Teams study by RW3.

Source: RW3

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:

  1. Make sure everyone has a clear role and scope of tasks.
  2. Have a well-defined process from task assignment to submitting the output.
  3. Commit to regular communication, not just during emergencies, to continuously gauge team morale.
  4. Create a virtual water cooler where team members can casually share best practices, ideas or simply get in touch with each other.
  5. Have 1:1 relationship with each member on top of group engagement.

1. Wrike

Wrike is our top in the list because it’s one of the most scalable cloud project management solutions with excellent collaboration tools that 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.

USER SATISFACTION 99%
OUR SCORE 9.7
Wrike won our Best Project Management Software Award for 2017

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 members, 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 simplify and prioritize work requests including issue/change requests, creative briefs and proposals.

Overall, Wrike is perfect for virtual teams for its task management, task prioritization, workload management and interactive Gantt chart timeline. You can sign up for Wrike free trial here.

What is unique about Wrike?

  1. 3-Pane View. The software’s signature feature, it allows you to see the big picture on the left pane (folders), the tasks for individual projects on the middle pane and the individual task details on the right pane.
  2. URL-based requests. Work requests such as change/issue, proposals and creative briefs can be shared at once via URL, allowing even non-Wrike users to view and collaborate on the task or issue.
  3. Interactive timeline. A Gantt timeline chart is updated in real time, giving you the most recent progress status for each completed task as it happens.
  4. Activity stream. Lets you see the most recent team and individual activities in real time; it also lets you communicate directly to a user via @mention.
  5. Document management. The software integrates with the most useful document management systems like Google Docs, Dropbox and Box.

2. Monday.com

Monday won our Supreme Software Award for 2016

Monday.com, formerly dapulse, is a popular 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 technical 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.

As with the simplicity of an IM chat tool, a particular information can be searched quickly within the platform. You can sign up for Monday.com free trial here

  1. What is unique about Monday.com?
  2. Social collaboration. The platform has the simplicity and intuitiveness of a social media network. Team members can quickly swap insights, discuss issues or share files in a place.
  3. Pulses. The software gives all team members one location to be notified of tasks or issues, discuss or share insights. Pulses are rows on a board that acts as a single place for team interaction specific to a project.
  4. Searchable platform. All project-related information from discussions and task assignments to file attachments are quickly searched across the platform.
  5. Single-glance timeline.  Lets you quickly see who is working on what, allowing you to gauge  deadlines against real-time progress or evaluate workload versus team’s running capability.
  6. Client-friendly. Allows you to invite clients into the system via permissions, lending to you transparency and credibility.

3. Smartsheet

Smartsheet won our Expert’s Choice 2018 Award.

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.

What is unique about Smartsheet?

  1. Familiar to spreadsheet users. The interface is built around spreadsheet functions, so nearly anyone can quickly adapt to the software’s UI with little trouble. Creating sheets is straightforward.
  2. Flexible access. Files and data can be accessed from any browser or device.
  3. Configurable processes. While it can automate repetitive workflows, it can also be customized to fit unique processes.
  4. Highly organized. Worksheets can be arranged using folders and workspaces.
  5. Built-in communication tools. Features live chat, social media integration, email integration and alerts & reminders to keep everyone in the loop.

4. Zoho Projects

Zoho Projects won our Expert’s Choice Award for 2016.

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 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.

What is unique about Zoho Projects?

  1. Free app. Includes project feeds, task management and document sharing with 10 MB storage space that’ ideal for one project.
  2. Bitbucket- and GitHub compatible. Workflows and rules can be customized to fit code changes you created in these leading software development platforms.
  3. Project planning. Makes it easy to break down complex projects into milestones, tasklists and tasks for easy monitoring.
  4. In-depth insights.  Its Gantt charts provides detailed visual insights, helping you track who is free, working or burdened with tasks.
  5. Third-party collaboration. It allows you to invite suppliers, clients or consultants into the system for extended collaboration.

5. Asana

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.

What is unique about Asana?

  1. Individual responsibilities tied to goals and milestones. It ties together team member’s tasks with project milestones and goals so everyone can see how their work impacts on the entire project.
  2. Visual boards. You can apply kanban to visually move stages from start to completion.
  3. Single platform. Integrate your emails, tickets, files, discussions and other communication items with Asana to have a unified collaboration platform.
  4. Big-picture calendar. Lets you spot holes or overlaps in the project schedule and adjust it where needed.
  5. Priority tasks. Lets you customize fields in a way that prioritizes urgent issues or tasks and monitor them closely for immediate resolution.

6. Trello

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 fits 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.

What is unique about Trello?

  1. Kanban method. The software is solidly designed around this visual project management methodology that allows you to track tasks and overall project progress using movable cards.
  2. Intuitive to an project size. The kanban-based platform is adaptive to both straightforward an enterprise projects.
  3. Free. A basic plan is free and lets you use the boards, lists and cards for simple projects.
  4. Voting tool. Helps you get ground feedback, helpful for shortlisting things or crowdsourcing ideas, either within the organization or involving the public.
  5. Developer API. Helps you adapt the entire system to your unique workflows or rules.

7. Yammer

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.

What is unique about Yammer?

  1. Categorized groups. You can create groups based on work, interest or your preset parameter and bundle team members with shared goals. You can also coordinate communication between groups to share expert opinions.
  2. Clearly mapped tasks. Team members avoid duplicating each other’s tasks with clear visibility on everyone’s tasks.
  3. Everyone’s connected. Frontliners and decision makers are connected through the platform, so they can directly communicate for faster collaboration
  4. Analytics-based reports. Pull off reports that processed information into insights, like identifying patterns in task deliverables for more accurate completion forecast.
  5. Knowledge base. Team members can share best practices and insights, which you can consolidate into a shared knowledge base.

8. Podio

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 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 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.

What is unique about Podio?

  1. Highly integrated. It can centralize all collaboration tools in one place, including web & mobile, meeting schedule, automated workflows, task management, data visualization and CRM.
  2. 99.99% Guaranteed uptime. It boasts of cloud access dependability and security as part of the Citrix ecosystem.
  3. Project management essentials. It includes communication tools, web forms and email integration, calendaring, document management and file sharing.
  4. Open API. You can configure the front-end to match your workflow.
  5. 24-hour support. 24/7 dedicated support available.

9. Creativity 365

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.

What is unique about Creativity 365?

  1. Document management. The platform is designed as a document management suite that allows teams to share and access centrally located files from desktop or mobile devices.
  2. Creative-specific. Ideal for creative-inclined processes from concept development to approval stages.
  3. Solid editing tools. It lets you annotate, edit, convert and do anything on a shared file using a variety of devices from easy access. The team can collaborate and build on each other’s ideas using these tools.
  4. Presentation feature. Allows you to make a presentation to a client or any stakeholder using laser pointer to highlight information. A built-in editing tool lets you tweak the presentation as suggested during the meeting.
  5. Signature approval process. The Pocket Scanner makes it easy to get the signatures of key people to move the project forward.

10. Atlassian Confluence

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.

What is unique about Atlassian Confluence?

  1. Rich content editor. You can plug it in your web browser and make adjustments to shared files in real time and during collaboration meetings.
  2. Social media-like platform. Team members are more engaged with the use of likes, mentions and comments as they’d use any popular social media network. This helps you get more feedback and nurture a culture of involvement.
  3. Centralized place. All related files, specs, notes, policies and users are in one place for easy access.
  4. Workspaces. Team members can have their own workspace with its own theme and permission or they can be grouped into workspaces.
  5. Highly collaborative. Team members can create, organize and discuss in one platform, while you get the whole picture.

11. Prezi

Prezi is an 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 slide show 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.

What is unique about Prezi?

  1. Cloud slideshow. Present to clients or suppliers in the cloud and send your message across fast.
  2. Android access. Use your Android phone to present or view the slide show.
  3. Useful integration. It works with Skype, Google Images and PDF to extend to enhance your presentations.

12. Wiredrive

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.

What is unique about Wiredrive?

  1. Global collaboration. Team members can share, discuss, approve and do other tasks that require collaboration wherever they are.
  2. Notification system. All users are kept in the loop with the latest announcements sent through the platform.
  3. Data encryption. Security is tightly monitored using encryption and permission-based access rules.

13. BoardDocs

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.

What is unique about BoarDocs?

  1. MetaSearch feature.  Any information you have entered into the system can be quickly retrieved to support the item at hand.
  2. Workflow customization. You can customize the agenda creation process with how notes are added, items are submitted and changes are tracked.
  3. Rich library. Can store as many images and files you want for your online collaboration.

14. Social Tables

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.

What is unique about Social Tables?

  1. Simplified guest management. Features an intuitive table management, diagramming and check-in tools.
  2. Collaborative platform. Links together event planners, property owners, caterers and other suppliers.
  3. Secure cloud. Client data and other sensitive event details are kept secure in the app’s cloud storage.

15. Samepage

Samepage is an extensive collaboration platform with a robust free app scalable to paid plan. It’s ideal for small and medium businesses. The free app features unlimited number of users with caps of 10 pages, 1GB storage and 30-day chat history. Not bad especially for simple projects.

On the other hand, the paid plan includes advanced features like group video calling, admin-controlled permissions, private teams and multi-team guests. The software makes it easy to pull together remote team members via cloud wherever they are. It is ideal for creative works, but can adapt to any standard projects. Other key features include group scheduling, file synchronization and team conversation.

What is unique about Samepage?

  1. Ideal for creative shoots. It gathers in one place all files and data important to a shoot, including videos, photos, text and spreadsheets. You can line up the details in a coordinated way that all team members are on the same page.
  2. Online collaboration platform. Use its page comments, team calendar, task management file sync and version control to brainstorm, edit, discuss and generally collaborate on projects and tasks.
  3. File sharing. Ideal for collaborative workspace where you keep the most recent file version utilizing its version control, page permissions management and page member access controls.
Category: B2B News, Featured Articles
Tags: Collaboration Software

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