Tag Archives: collaboration

Six Low Friction Collaboration Tools for Marketers

How do you keep on top of a marketing program as the client and team members each change and refine their contributions? How can you avoid the jumble of disjointed email and out of synch attachments, which convert what should be straightforward project management into an exercise in detective work and archeology?cloud based collaboration

There may not be a magic bullet for this common problem, but here are six free tools which save time, keep focus and often deliver a better result. Many nifty services save time after you’ve invested in learning them. Not so with these. You can get to know any of them in a few minutes.

All these services are cloud based and this enables real-time cooperation. Except for DropBox, there’s no software or app to install. A computer and an up to date browser are all you need.

Tom’s Planner

Elaborate project plan documents may impress clients. They can also take lots of effort better spent on actually doing the project. The old “solution” was to buy copies of Microsoft Project for team members, invest significant time learning how to use it, and then try to coordinate the different versions from each computer.

What you often need is a simpler tool to create Gantt charts and enable team members to update their portions. Enter Tom’s Planner. It hits the sweet spot between intuitive ease of use and enough features. Tom’s is entirely web based and works impressively well on a variety of browsers including on the iPad.

Writeboard

A fruitful exchange often starts at a whiteboard. Suppose you can extend the collaboration to those not in the room at the time, save the conversation and keep it going? Essentially what you get is multi-user chat, which you can store, share, or export to a read only web page. Its easy yet surprisingly useful.

Flockdraw

As useful as it is, Writeboard is text only. Sometimes a “back of the napkin” sketch gets your idea across best. Flockdraw is a very basic tool. No instructions supplied or needed. With it you can draw straight lines or freehand, change the color and thickness of the pen and share the result.

Corkboard

If you like sticky notes, this ultralight website lets you share them with team members on a virtual cork board. If you change, delete or add a new note, all those with whom you share a workspace will see the updates.

Ta-Da List

A project plan is overkill for some things. In this case a task list may be enough. Ta-Da is one list you can’t simply loose or leave at home. Making it sharable and editable online may help get the items done.

DropBox

Your project will likely include more elaborate documents – graphics, layouts, brochures, word processing files, etc. – any of which go through multiple revisions. This nifty file synchronization service allows you to manage document versions and ensure that you and your team members work on the same one.

DropBox requires a free app, which is available for Windows, Mac, Android, iPad, iPhone, and BlackBerry.

I could have mentioned other tools, but all these are fast, functional, and free. You can get to know them all over a lunch hour – which may be better than a free lunch.

Getting Waved

After Bell invented the telephone, whom did he call (aside from the hapless Watson)? I was reminded of this old joke after an acquaintance was kind enough to invite me to Wave , Google’s new communications platform. Right now Wave is available only by invitation and the supply of invitations have just about run out. Yet wave is a closed system — you can only use it to communicate with others, who also have wave.

Hmmm, “communications platform”  sounds at once too techie and too general, like a lot of what passes for marketing, especially in technology. If Wave is a solution, what’s the problem and what’s it got to do with me as a marketer?

A challenge most marketers or teams of any sort face is how to be more effective in communicating and synchronizing with colleagues, clients, or partners. Email is certainly not the best solution; often it is part of the problem. Wave promises to be a better way. The short video below shows an example.

So Wave, like blogs, discussion forums, wikis and other collaborative means, provides a workbench where you can effectively coordinate with other team members. With Wave, everyone is literally on the same page.

If you’re curious, you could try some alternatives to Wave such asWetpaint, pbworks, wikidot among others. All of these have benefits, but I think they are less useful than Wave for most marketers.

Wave is not the only way to collaborate, but I find it appealing. It’s free. It’s hosted, so there’s nothing to install or maintain. All you need is a browser and an Internet connection. Like its cousin Gmail, it seems fast, reliable and secure, especially compared with standard email.

Wave is simple and relatively easy to figure out. It’s a lightweight utility with enough but not too many features. This makes it easy to use and to learn and it should not require formal training. For informal training, Wave’s YouTube Channel offers a variety of short how-to videos.

If you need an enterprise tool with numerous features, Wave isn’t it. On the other hand, if all you’ve got is email, twitter lists, and a blog, or even a “traditional” wiki, Wave could be a big step up and a way to get projects clicking instead of dragging.

Getting back to Alexander Graham Bell. Wave has started out like most Google products – in “preview mode.” This means you can’t get it right now except by invitation. You might be able to wrangle an invitation from a current user. But that back door comes with the limitation that you won’t be able to invite other users until Google expands Wave’s membership. Google is mum on when that will happen.

So, if you do get a Wave account, you can wave members of your email contact list, who are already on Wave. If none of them are, you could only wave yourself; not even Watson. To get on a list for new Wave accounts click wait. By the way, has anyone seen Watson?