Team collaboration is a broad concept. As a result, there are many different kinds of team collaboration tools on the market.
Some of these tools offer video and chat communication, while others provide robust project management capabilities.
We noticed that when you search for team collaboration tools, most review websites only provide a catch-all list, but in this blog post we’re going to explain the different types and how they work.
Specifically, we’ve divided our list into the following categories:
You can use the links above to jump to a section if you’re only interested in certain types of collaboration tools.
But first, let us start by introducing ourselves and explain why we’re interested in team collaboration and how our tool Gmelius plays in this space.
As we discussed in a recent article, email by itself has limited use as a collaboration tool for modern teams. It’s challenging to track projects, assign responsibilities, or discuss threads privately in an email chain. These are all features that any modern company needs, and the simple one-to-one messaging of email doesn’t provide them.
But, in that same article, we explained how various other software tools that attempt to resolve these challenges all end up creating more channels to communicate through.
So the modern worker has to first check their inbox, then Slack, then their project management tool (Trello, Basecamp, etc.), and sales teams then need to sync everything with their CRM.
People end up creating these webs of “synching’ through apps like Zapier to try to fix this:
Tracking down a previous conversation, file, or information meant an exhaustive search through several different tools—leading to a loss of productivity and annoyance for team members.
Meanwhile, as we argue in that article, email is still king. Despite all these other team collaboration tools, we’re still using our inboxes as the central hub.
We asked ourselves: what if all of these project management and team collaboration tools lived in your inbox?
This is why we created Gmelius. It can transform Gmail into your company’s collaboration workspace and help your team manage projects, handle customer queries, and optimize outreach right from their email inbox.
Let’s explore some of its features.
Now that we’ve properly introduced ourselves, let’s walk through how we manage the different categories of project management.
With Gmelius, you can do project and client management, Kanban boards, email notes, labels, shared inboxes, and email delegation.
As an example of a feature that helps with project management without leaving your inbox, we have shared labels, which help consolidate your internal communications.
With them, everyone on the team can easily see the different conversations that have happened around a particular client, project, or vendor. No more need to ping coworkers on Slack for “that one email” or file.
Also, the shared inbox feature is for people who want to take it a step further and share a specific inbox so anyone can respond or send from a specific account (like [email protected] or [email protected]). This is particularly useful for those that use their Gmail inbox as a ticketing or help desk software.
The usage of project management software often revolves around task delegation. Many times the task is based upon an email that the client or vendor sent. Email delegation allows you to delegate specific emails to individual team members.
It also helps eliminate the long and often confusing “forward:” and “cc” email chains that can occur as emails get passed around internally.
We also built a Kanban board directly inside Gmail. With it, you can instantly convert emails into task cards and share the board with your team. You can also add notes, due dates, and track the progress of your tasks visually inside the board.
A lot of workplace chat occurs around different emails. For example, an email comes in from your boss and you end up chatting about Slack about it. That instantly silos the conversation and information contained within.
Instead of having a conversation about the same subject in two different tools such as Gmail and Slack, you can instead use the email notes feature to make notes from within Gmail and even add it to the Kanban board.
You can also assign a task such as “client requested ‘X’, please handle.”
Gmelius also offers complete email outreach functionality. Track emails, create campaigns, and manage sequences from right inside Gmail!
First, let’s start with project management and document collaboration tools. This is typically what people think of first when they hear “team collaboration”. These tools either help you keep projects, tasks, and communication in line, or share documents, version control, or all of the above.
Project and document management tools are important because they allow for transparent and efficient project management from a single dashboard. They also help you and your team members communicate more effectively as you collaborate on your projects.
Chatter is a social media and collaboration tool designed for enterprise-level companies. It’s free for Salesforce users and allows employees to communicate and share ideas within the walled garden.
In addition to increasing productivity and fostering a social media environment, Chatter helps cut down on unnecessary emails through their easy-to-use messaging system. Users can also look up historical conversations and view them without having to piece together an email conversation.
Google Docs allows for the creation, editing, and cloud storage of online documents. In addition to editing features such as word count, spell check, and translator, it also allows for team collaboration through a comprehensive stack of internal tools.
Users can share documents and assign access levels with other team members. A robust change tracking system helps keep things organized even when several people are working on the same document.
It allows users to collaborate in real time, so that no updates are lost in an “old version” of an important document.
Box helps teams of all sizes manage content and collaborate through an easy to use interface. It’s highly secure and supports a wide range of compliance requirements such as HIPAA, HITECH, and FedRAMP/FISMA, to name just a few.
Many teams use Box as a storage repository for files, documents, images, and videos. Everything is securely stored in the cloud, which means if you have access to a web browser, you can download your files from anywhere.
Box also integrates with over 1,400 apps—including Slack and Microsoft Word—and has a very robust app for both iOS and Android.
Asana is a robust team collaboration and project management platform. Its intuitive design gives users the tools they need to stay focused on the projects and milestones that matter most.
Team members can instantly know where each project stands along with what deliverables they owe by looking at the calendar view. This is especially helpful for organizations who utilize freelancers or contract workers as it can cut down on unnecessary email chatter.
Basecamp is designed to help teams of all sizes communicate more efficiently, stay on track, and increase accountability.
They accomplish this through their robust and easy to use platform which offers the same functionality as Slack, Asana, Dropbox, and Google Suite all combined.
Users can give their clients access to Basecamp to keep deliverables and collateral in one easy to find place.
ClickUp helps reduce the confusion and clutter that is sometimes associated with project management software. It accomplishes this through an intuitive and easy to use dashboard where tasks are intuitively laid out.
There are three different ways to manage and view tasks which enables both a high and low-level perspective from the same dashboard.
This modularity is extended further through add-ons called “ClickApps,” which are designed to allow each team to customize their workspace.
Formerly known as Dapulse, Monday.com is a robust task management tool that helps end users stay on track with their deliverables. The simple interface helps new users get up and running with only a small learning curve.
Users can also create highly customizable dashboards which can highlight essential insights and allow them to stay on track. Monday.com also integrates with many different tools such as Gmail, Mailchimp, and Slack, to name just a few.
Wrike enables teams of 20 or more members to collaborate efficiently on large projects with many proverbial moving parts, such as a 500 item task list.
Interactive Gantt charts, project calendars, and Kanban boards are just some of the many features that enable large teams to manage huge projects efficiently.
Wrike is highly customizable and allows each user to stay on track and see the bigger picture.
Kanban is a specific type of project management tool with certain use cases and benefits such as the ability for teams of all sizes to maximize efficiencies, limit scope creep, and help visualize the overall project.
Kanban boards make excellent project management tools for software developers and project managers alike as they can help visualize production bottlenecks and allow for the optimization of workflows.
Trello helps teams get organized by using boards to manage individual projects. It gives users the ability to assign tasks and see where projects are at a glance.
The simplicity of Trello is what makes it attractive to teams. There is almost no learning curve, and users can access from any computer, phone, or tablet with an internet connection.
Trello comes with multiple useful features such as email notifications, SSL encryption, deadline reminders, and archiving of card records, to name just a few.
SwiftKanban provides powerful, agile project management functionality for teams of all sizes. It sets itself apart from competitors such as Trello by combining Kanban and Scrum boards to create extremely efficient workflows.
It can also perform risk assessments, delivery forecasting, and capability analysis. SwiftKanban also helps users manage and optimize all aspects of a project through their highly customizable board designs.
KanbanFlow focuses on lean project management and enables users to connect and strategize efficiently utilizing a highly intuitive and easy to use interface.
It also offers time tracking functionality, including the Pomodoro method, which is working for 25-minute sprints, then taking a short break, then working another 25-minute sprint.
Volerro gives teams a workspace from which they can collaborate on various projects. It’s handy for organizations that require content collaboration as it supports the management of many different types of office documents, videos, and audio files.
Volerro provides a robust and intuitive workflow management platform that will help all team members stay on task as the project moves forward.
LeanKit is a Kanban board that makes use of the powerful Lean technique. It offers intuitive visualizations for team members that can help manage processes and workflows.
LeanKit also integrates with over 250 different 3rd party platforms such as Salesforce, Zendesk, and Google Docs. It’s especially useful for developers as it can connect with MS Project Server, GitHub, Oracle Primavera, and Jira.
Video conferencing and workplace chat tools fill the live call and instant messaging hole that email often leaves in teams.
Certain tools, such as Slack, offer additional functionalities—such as reminders and custom channels—to help organize project workflows more efficiently. They can also connect with a huge ecosphere of third party tools which allows for greater workflow efficiency.
Slack helps both internal and remote teams collaborate more efficiently through a robust set of project management tools. Updates and deadline reminders help keep Slack users on track throughout the day.
It connects with a wide variety of 3rd party apps such as Asana, Basecamp, and Jira, to name just a few. Users can create various custom channels—which is a powerful and easy way to keep track of multiple projects and/or clients.
Slack has an app for PC, Mac, iOS, and Android to help keep your team members connected while on the go.
Note: We’re releasing a Gmelius Slack Integration soon, stay tuned or join our email list below to learn more when it’s released.
Skype is a popular video and chat conferencing platform that teams can use to communicate and collaborate in real time.
Users can connect and call from any country in the world without having to pay long distance phone charges.
Users can also use Skype to call landlines and mobile phones. This functionality costs extra and is dependent upon the country you’re calling.
Although Google+ was shut down completely in April of 2019, Google Hangouts still exists and is an excellent way for teams to communicate without ever leaving their Gmail account.
Now part of the GSuite of tools, Google Hangouts allows users to chat as well as share live video from their webcams. It offers a wide range of features such as HD video, auto screen focus, as well as many screen sharing options.
Zoom is great for hosting conferences, webinars, and teaching online courses. It offers many features, such as HD video, screen sharing, and cloud or local recording.
The webinar functionality is what sets it apart from the rest of the video conferencing pack. The many features ensure users have the tools they need to make an impactful presentation.
Zoom can host up to 100 conference participants or 10,000 non-participating viewers and comes with a robust set of tools such as a whiteboard and voice-detection functionalities.
GoToMeeting is a video conferencing platform that many teams enjoy due to its simplicity. It’s available on several operating systems such as Mac, PC, Android, and iOS. This helps ensure that people can connect regardless of their computer or OS.
One of the downsides to video conferencing software is that many of them require a software download before users can participate. GoToMeeting allows participants to simply click a link and join the conference via their browser.
There is also a toll-free phone option for meetings. This adds another layer of accessibility as participants can dial in from their phones instead of having to sit behind a computer that’s connected to the internet.
Join.me is another cloud-based app that enables meeting participants to instantly join a video or audio call via their web browser as there’s no software download required.
The user interface is simple yet powerful enough to host large team meetings. The recording option is excellent and allows the meeting leader to save the call locally or in the cloud.
Join.me also allows for a toll-free phone dial-in from over 40 different countries. This helps ensure that your entire team can connect, no matter their physical location.
UberConference is a cloud-based video and chat conferencing tool. It’s designed specifically for teams who need robust conference calling software that can remove the need for expensive VoIP solutions.
It also integrates with a wide variety of third-party platforms such as Google Docs, Dropbox, and Evernote. This will allow meeting participants to mark up documents live on the call.
The only potential downside to UberConference is that there is no option to save video recordings to the cloud. Users can get around this by connecting their Dropbox or other cloud storage platforms.
TeamViewer offers video chat and conferencing features that allow team members to connect remotely.
One of the most powerful features of this software is the remote desktop access. This is great for companies who have remote IT tech teams and also works well for those who are teaching interactive online courses.
Finally, we have time tracking tools. For certain teams, they may not be necessary, but we think it qualifies as a type of team collaboration tool because it’s useful in helping track the amount of time that team members spend on individual projects. For teams with several contractors or agencies that track time for clients, these are often indispensable.
Some time tracking tools also have invoicing and billing functionalities which can significantly help reduce the time spent on tabulating hours and billing at the end of the month.
Harvest allows users to track the time they spend on projects. Users can log time on their own, or use the built-in timer app and export that data to many tools such as Basecamp, Trello, and Asana.
Harvest also provides customized reports as it compiles timesheet data. Instantly see where time is spent and where projects are in relation to the budget. Users can also send out custom invoices and receive online payments.
Calendar helps you improve your productivity and time management by offering a way to connect and share your digital calendars in a smart way. You can use the desktop or app dashboard to access your calendar as well as connect other calendars like Google, Outlook, and Apple. Smart scheduling leverages a machine learning algorithm to learn your schedule and help automate event creation, invitations, revisions, and cancellations.
Users can share and sync their schedules with each other. The time slot features enables event creation and invitations in a matter of seconds. Customization and various calendar views are also included in the free basic plan. The paid versions include more features, such as meeting transcriptions and a suite of analytics tools.
Clockify is a time tracking tool designed for both teams and freelancers. It helps keep track of both employee timesheets and billable hours and offers automatic or manual time logging functionality.
Clockify is an excellent choice for teams who don’t need overly complicated time tracking tools. It’s also available on many different platforms such as mobile, PC, Mac, or via a Chrome or Firefox browser extension.
Paydirt offers simple time tracking functionality for teams that don’t require all the bells and whistles of similar tools. The dashboard provides a view of outstanding invoices, billed work, and payment/time reporting.
In addition to online quoting, Paydirt also allows for billing and payment via Stripe or PayPal. It also integrates with Basecamp, Trello, and Zapier to allow seamless time tracking, reporting, and billing functionality.
Freshbooks is a suite of invoicing and accounting tools to help teams track time as well as manage invoicing and payments.
Users can log and view the amount of time each team member spends on any given project. Freshbooks will then add all of the time into an invoice without the need for manual calculations.
Users can accept credit cards or PayPal payments—and clients can quickly pay by clicking a single button on the invoice. Expenses and invoices are all tracked and easy to look up and review.
Timely uses artificial intelligence to help automate the often tedious task of time tracking. The aim is to capture every single billable second of your work day, including phone calls and meetings. This is great for professional firms who bill by the minute.
It also has a staff roster and availability section that can help both remote and local teams with work scheduling. The easy to use dashboard also allows for KPI measuring such as billing capacity and percentages.
When it comes to choosing the collaboration tool that’s right for your team, there are a few things that you should take into consideration:
We want to suggest that you give Gmelius a try. Gmelius allows you to manage all aspects of your project and collaborate with your team from your Gmail inbox.
We have the same functionality as many other collaboration tools but won’t complicate your workflow or require you or your team to adapt to new software.
If you’d like to see all of the functionality that Gmelius can offer you and your team, you can find it in the Chrome Store.