Top 5 collaboration and team chat apps
Collaboration takes many forms
The act of collaboration can take many forms. Giving and receiving information, learning, presenting and co-editing a document, all are collaborative. When it comes to software that helps people to interact for business purposes, essentially any app that helps people to work together and interact can be said to be a collaboration tool.
You could argue that email is a collaboration tool. Certainly, going by the definition above, one of the things that email does is enable people to interact to help them achieve a shared goal.
One of the earliest ways of classing enterprise-class email software like Microsoft Outlook and Lotus Notes (if you can remember it!) was as ‘groupware’ – sharing email, calendars and contacts, elements that are vital to people in a company working efficiently together.
However, email allows for time shift. If you’re not stuck waiting for information, this time lag isn’t a problem and it can actually be desirable, enabling you to juggle tasks and work to the pattern of priorities that you want.
This is fine so long as you are not sat waiting for a reply to an email carrying information vital to the task you are working on, so you can get on with the job.
Collaboration for the way we need to work today
For the way we need to work today, it is pretty essential that a tool that truly enables collaboration provides us with the ability to interact with clients, co-workers or ad-hoc team members in real time. Video and audio communication without time lag delays is essential.
Whether you are actually working in real time on a live document. Or simply having a tele or video conference to conduct a simple meeting in real time, rich media communication has become an expectation.
Flexibility is certainly a very desirable asset in any tool designed for collaborating. Why jump on a call when a quick real time text chat will do?
The most effective and efficient forms of collaboration are able to provide greater depth than mere real time communication. They help us to be better organized and to accelerate what we need to achieve.
If we think of it as a simple layered cake, on top of collaboration, we might add a layer that enables leadership so that there is some sort of way to steer activity in line with our project management goals. In a really good tool, it would be hoped that there is another overlay that facilitates problem solving.
Perhaps one of the best assets of a good collaboration app is that it prevents the need for using separate tools. Email, file sharing and storage, conferencing and text messaging in different pieces of software is undesirable because it decentralizes communication.
When we need to be forensic or get insight from analytics, using separate channels prevents a creditable and verifiable audit trail and stops the chain of communication from being tracked. This can mean the loss of important information, or at the very least, information being misplaced.
Apps for collaboration and team chat
It is essential that we eliminate unnecessary costs from our businesses. Unnecessary travel for business, including any associated subsistence and accommodation, as well as metered communication like phone calls, all produce cost impacts and they are not always rechargeable.
It is a necessity to maximize our use of IP-based technologies to get the best value from using fixed price internet connectivity. Here we look at the top 5 apps for collaboration and team chat.
Slack puts all the communication you need together in one place. It provides real-time messaging, archiving and search for today’s teams. Breeze lets you simply and quickly integrate each project separately with Slack.
Slack lets you bring people, the right information together with the tools to get your work done. Launched in 2014, Slack is said to be the fastest-growing business application in history. Millions of people around the world now use Slack to connect their teams.
Typical use cases in addition to messaging include sharing files, kicking off a project, hiring a new employee, deploying some code, reviewing a sales contract, finalizing next year's budget, measuring an A/B test and planning your next office opening.
From enterprise Fortune 100 companies to niche segments and boutique businesses, Slack is being used by millions of people to help them communicate.Pros
- Perfect channel on which to cross-collaborate
- Get answers quickly, share updates, and create function-based groups
- Sometimes it can be a distraction if people overuse it
- Mobile version has bugs and some functional problems
Update: Stride was bought by Atlassian's competitor Slack Technologies and was discontinued on February 15, 2019.
Stride was a cloud-based team business communication and collaboration tool, launched by Atlassian in September 2017. It replaced Atlassian-owned HipChat. Stride harmonized collaborative communication and chat with the rest of the Atlassian product range.
Stride was a complete communication solution. Atlassian has designed it so that it empowers teams to talk less and do more.
It provides everything needed to stay connected but keep moving. Stride is meant to be a new kind of messaging, that turns conversations into action. The integrated collaboration tools bring people together instantly with built-in voice and video conferencing. This is designed to give people the space to focus so you can get to done, faster.Pros
- Integration with the Atlassian cloud is the primary reason to select using Stride
- Provides a written record of interactions, preventing misunderstandings about what people have said
- You can't forward messages or quote
- You need to have an Atlassian account to use the stride
Flowdock from enterprise big-hitter CA Technologies is a collaboration tool for teams. CA Flowdock integrates a team inbox and chat and it is integrated with over 50 other 3rd party tools and services. This includes Breeze, where you enable the integration under project settings.
Flowdock is hi-concept in that flows are the heart of it. Flows are open spaces for your teams to converse and collaborate. You can invite project stakeholders to join your Flow to participate in discussions, see updates from your tools, and receive catered notifications.
Conversations are organized as threads and color coded for fast referencing and visual tracking. Flowdock relies upon the ecosystem of 3rd party plugins which expand capability. The app provides updates from your preferred integrated tools in a separate area to prevent them getting caught up with your work-related Flows.Pros
- Web and mobile interfaces both work well and are easy to use
- Consistency – from laptop app to web interface, mobile app and tablet app - it always looks and works the same
- Hard to migrate Slack users over to Flowdock
- Lacks an advanced search feature
Hangouts is a work and personal crossover app, for business or pleasure. As a Google product it layers straight on top of your Google stack, so you can sign in and link up all your accounts.
Host virtual meetings and increase your team's productivity with meetings that hold up to 10 people and powerful tools like screen sharing and Google Docs. Use it to start free video or voice calls and join a conversation with one person or a group.
You can connect your Google Voice account for phone number, SMS and voicemail integration. Turn any conversation into a free group video call with up to 10 people and call any phone number in the world. Also, it lets you keep in touch across all your devices and message at any time, even when people are offline.Pros
- Simple messenger that can be accessed from almost any device
- Use it for business and personal tasks and properly organize each day
- You might not want to concentrate yet another online tool with in the Google stable
- Video quality can be variable
A flexible messenger that integrates with email and lets you store and share files easily. Fleep provides a strong emphasis on teams and projects, bring an essential extra layer to the direct the purposes of your collaborative efforts.
Features such as Tasks, Pinboard and File drawer all help to maintain a project management feel and direction by helping uses to stay organized around their purposes.
Using email addresses means that off-platform users can be kept in the loop with regular SMTP. Typical real time indicators such as message read, presence and typing indicators.Pros
- Great customer support
- Create groups specific to teams in your company in order to communicate more efficiently
- Lacks few features like filtering messages by one of the members of the conversation or sorting conversations by teams
- Android app won't give me notifications or update unless it is always running