Increasingly, technology-based experiences are shaping how small businesses interact with their customers. It can be difficult to create a personalized experience, especially if you’re trying to create engaging online and digital conversations.
Cloud based collaboration tools can help to make the life of the small business owner easier, especially when you have employees who work remotely or across different time zones.
Here are some tips to find the best cloud-based collaboration tools for your team.
Understand the basics
When you store something in “the cloud,” it means your data and information, the software and services is being stored somewhere else instead of locally onsite.
Using cloud based collaboration tools means you can remotely connect with your employees no matter where they are located for real time collaboration.
Why should you consider using cloud-based collaboration tools
Having a digital hub to facilitate online collaboration creates more transparency, which can help create better accountability, improve team productivity by problem-solving more quickly and ensure the security of a project by allowing team members to house sensitive data in a password protected management system. A McKinsey Global Institute report found business owners can raise the productivity of their knowledge workers by 20 to 25 percent by using social technologies and 61% of the workweek is spent on three tasks: communicating and collaborating internally, reading and answering emails, and searching or gathering information.
How to choose a collaboration tool
Before choosing a type of cloud based collaboration software, think about what features you want and who you want to use it.
Do you want software that will…
- Manage tasks and projects
- Offer private communication
- Manage documents and content
- Take notes
- Offer video conferencing
Most collaboration tools offer multiple features, so request a demo or a free trial to compare how easy the software is to use for you and your team.
Traveling is expensive. That’s why many companies have gone to virtual meetings with some of these collaboration tools.
WebEx. Need to video conference in a team and do screen shares? Host online meetings quickly with this program.
GoToMeeting. Get HD video via multiple feeds and webcams. One of the best features is its ability to allow a presenter to opt into a participants machine and take over if they are having trouble.
Zoom. Another option to video conference or host webinars. Unlike GoToMeeting, there’s also a softening filter to “touch up my appearance” in real time, a green screen option to change your background and the ability to annotate via its whiteboard option.
G suite. Use Google Hangouts to combine voice or video meetings and schedule calendar invites.
Skype for Business. Connect up to 250 people via Skype’s video conference tool.
We’re all drowning in emails and text messages. An easier way to cut through the clutter is offering a private or customized messaging system.
Slack. This communication channel is used by a lot of business owners. Instead of emailing or texting you can share messages by focusing discussions based on the topic and purpose. Create tailored and targeted discussions via various channels. Use hashtags to search topics.
Flowdock. Offer your team real-time chat capabilities by organizing conversations via different threads. There’s also a video chat option.
Yammer. Create internal communication chains and share documents with this Microsoft-based social tool that is tied to Office 365.
Zoho. Track tickets with real-time notifications, assist customers via email, phone, chat and social media.
HappyFox Help Desk. Many startups look for an alternative to Zendesk. Like Zoho, this is another help desk collaboration tool that PC magazine has rated an editor’s choice for its ability to handle multi-channel ticketing from various emails and social media accounts.
Besides tracking tasks, most project management software offers a way to create a knowledge base for your company.
Milanote. If you’re a visual thinker, milanote helps organize ideas and projects into visual boards, like “the Evernote for Creative” says Bryan Clark, US editor of The Next Web. Write notes and to-do lists, upload images and files, save
Trello. Create boards on here to visually manage teams, tasks and deadlines. Each board can be easily moved as the task is moved toward completion. Employees can be added or removed as the project transitions.
Basecamp. Create to-do lists with notes, files and comment on tasks while storing documents and scheduling due dates.
Asana. Structure your team’s priorities and deadlines and then get a snapshot of tasks, details and who is in charge during each stage of a project.
Monday.com (formerly Dapulse). Track projects, manage work flows and team communication in this highly customizable management platform that more than 70,000 organizations use. “We see the future of software in the workplace as a seamless connection of cloud-based tools,” says Monday.com cofounder and CEO Roy Mann.