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6 Collaboration Tools For Productive Teams

Kristen Craft | May 21, 2019

Let’s face it: tools power modern business. From task delegation to better tracking and reporting, the right tools keep teams accountable and productive.

Yet in spite of their advantages, a surprising number of organizations still suffer from fear of the cloud. These companies rely on email and other legacy systems to communicate. And their collaboration efforts? Clunky at best.

At worst, these organizations lose millions in productivity costs. The average knowledge worker spends 14 percent of their workweek communicating and collaborating internally according to McKinsey.

With this much time invested in knowledge sharing, organizations can’t afford to keep teams tethered to Outlook. To squash inefficiencies, improve the allocation of resources, and remain competitive, high-performance teams embrace cloud-based collaboration tools. To join them, read on.

Our recommended collaboration toolkit

Each of the following tools can excel at handling specific business needs once you’ve figured out what works best for your organization.

Slack: Configurable communication

Slack is much more than a 1-1 instant messaging tool. It’s a platform where real-time conversations can include an entire team, a subset of individuals, or the whole organization.

As a result, teams who use Slack enjoy improved access to timely information.

Let’s say someone from marketing has a question anyone from the engineering team can answer. Instead of sending individual messages to specific teammates, users can ping a dedicated channel of relevant team members to maximize the reach of their message. If others need this information later, message search functionality empowers them to find it.

Channels can also serve as notification hubs, alerting users to routine issues like new support tickets and critical issues like site-wide bugs. However you use it, powerful integrations ensure teams can do more than goof around with Giphy.

Google Drive: The MS Office replacement

Google Doc helps busy teams break free from their inboxes. When someone creates a document, it’s immediately shareable with the rest of their organization, enabling others to access it without checking their email or downloading a file.

Editing functionality and version history also play an important role. There’s no need for time-wasting back and forth when everyone knows they’re working with the latest version of a document.

Then there’s Google Drive, the cloud-based storage where teams can organize native documents and upload and store external files. Microsoft Word may have some additional features (we’re looking at you, Excel), but when it comes to working on and sharing documents within a group, none rival the advantages of a cloud-based system like Google Docs.

Make your life even easier with the Tettra/Google Drive integration. Use Tettra as the hub for all of your scattered Google Drive files, so no one has to waste time hunting around for the info they need. Reference or even embed a Google Doc within a Tettra page for easy access.

Trello: Project management with an approachable interface

Like post-it notes on a whiteboard, Trello’s system of boards, lists, and cards offers an intuitive, visual way to manage high-level tasks. Based on the Kanban system, Trello lets teams organize projects using sprint, agile, or scrum methodologies. Many organizations also use Trello for content management.

Whatever your preferred framework, successful project management on Trello usually features:

  • Operational boards with status-based lists (To Do, In Progress, Done) that enable users to slide cards to the appropriate list as they make progress.
  • One task per card (or task singularity) to streamline workflow and prevent any misunderstandings about what “done” means.

But one of Trello’s best collaborative features is context: Users can leave comments directly on tasks that remain for future reference––right on the task itself.

GitHub: Dynamic source code repository

Github is more than a repository for source code. It’s a powerful project management tool for developers that fosters collaboration by design. With Github, your engineering team can share updates on their projects, merge source code, keep multiple revisions of code, and review changelogs from one integrated system.

In addition to saving time, this allows individual developers to contribute to and review projects with full transparency––a game changer for teams with multiple people working on the same codebase.

And for collaboration with other teams, outside engineering, try leveraging the Tettra/GitHub integration. You can reference and share metadata about your projects directly from a Tettra page. This facilitates inter-team collaboration, given that non-engineers rarely use GitHub.

Amplitude: Product analytics for the people

Growing a business without product analytics is like making your way through a cave without a flashlight. Amplitude solves for this by combining user-based insights with features that promote meaningful collaboration within product teams.

The platform achieves this in a few ways. Notebooks allow users to create media-rich stories to illustrate data, findings, and product ideas they can share with teammates.

Team Spaces keep all analyses, dashboards, charts, and Notebooks for a given product initiative in one place where members can raise concerns, make contributions, and stay in the loop.

Team Spaces can also integrate with Slack, pushing automatic updates to people where they’re already collaborating.

Zoom: Robust video-conferencing

Zoom is the swiss army knife of video conferencing. Combining HD video with increasingly important features like screen sharing, content sharing, and local recording make it an obvious choice for organizations in need of an end-to-end conferencing solution.

For starters, Zoom makes meetings more accessible. Only one person needs to download it––everyone else can click the meeting link to jump in from their phone, desktop, or tablet.

Zoom can also enhance collaboration during meetings. Whether toggling between participants to share screens, or making use of shared touch screens with whiteboarding, Zoom offers more ways for participants to exchange ideas than most video platforms on the market.

How to maximize your collaboration toolkit

Getting the most from your collaboration toolkit means driving the right kind of adoption. Here are a few tips to getting started:

Define clear use cases

Successful implementation of any new tool starts with knowing what business problems it’ll solve.

For collaboration tools especially, this means defining exactly how and when teams will use them. It also means training staff on use cases to maximize team and organizational success.

On the flipside, defining clear use cases can help to discourage people from falling back on hold habits, like using email to discuss a Trello task.

Delegate account ownership and management

Naming a few gatekeepers for each tool reduces unnecessary friction that can hurt adoption. New employees will always need accounts with appropriate permissions, and existing employees will occasionally need help with account-related issues.

In addition to managing accounts, gatekeepers should encourage people who engage most with a tool to share feedback about how it’s working in the wild.

Remain attentive and agile

Embracing feedback is crucial to process improvement. If you notice a pattern of similar complaints, it’s usually indicative of a problem.

Your use case may not fully align with the way a tool works, or perhaps a bad implementation or misunderstanding about the way a tool works is to blame.

Use feedback to identify the source of the problem and fix it––whether it means reconfiguring your set up or choosing another tool.

It’s always better to course correct than remain married to a process that isn’t working.

Invest in a hub

The problem with great purpose-built tools often becomes having to log into multiple systems to grab relevant information. It’s not quite as bad as Outlook purgatory, but software silos can also erode productivity.

While many collaboration tools integrate with one another, the best way to fully combat siloed systems is with a single hub that promotes visibility across all systems.

A knowledge management system like Tettra keeps everything organized and in one place, enabling teams across the organization to document everything from product specs to marketing campaigns to support processes. When integrated with Slack, all of this great content becomes searchable and shareable, drastically reducing the duration of everyday information quests.

Tools like Tettra empower your team to spend less time communicating and documenting issues and more time fixing them.

Making collaboration work beyond tools

The best tools in the world won’t make a difference without a motivated team. To foster success in the long term, organizations must build a culture of collaboration. There’s no quick way to do this, but documenting your team values is a good start.

Take the time to write down and share your company operating system and core values in a place everyone can access. Define what it means to be collaborative. What does this look like day-to-day? What does it sound like? Why is this a value you support? Promoting collaborative behavior as critical to everyone’s success will help the whole team achieve more.