10 Team-Focused Apps to Help Improve Office Productivity

 
 
By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2015-09-01
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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    10 Team-Focused Apps to Help Improve Office Productivity
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    10 Team-Focused Apps to Help Improve Office Productivity

    There are a number of applications out there that are aimed at boosting team collaboration and productivity, including these 10 team-focused apps.
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    Podio Delivers a High-End Collaboration Platform
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    Podio Delivers a High-End Collaboration Platform

    Podio is one of the more full-featured applications in this roundup, offering users the ability to manage not only their employees, but also engagements with clients. Plus, it includes a deliverables page to track how quickly work is getting done. Like all the other applications in this roundup, Podio works both online and on mobile. However, with all of its features, the platform is a little pricey, starting at $9 per month per employee for the basic package and jumping to $24 for extra features and better support.
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    Bitrix24 Supports Team Productivity
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    Bitrix24 Supports Team Productivity

    Bitrix24 is what has been described as a "social project management" package that works like a social intranet in a way similar to Facebook's News Feed. It gives workgroup members the ability to view team activity, "like" certain items and share workflows with colleagues. It also integrates with Facebook and Twitter, adding some additional social flair. Bitrix24 is available for free for up to 12 employees. The company's standard account goes for $99 per month, while the Professional plan, which allows for unlimited online storage, goes for $199 per month. There is no limit on the number of employees allowed to use the platform.
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    Microsoft's Yammer Does the Heavy Lifting
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    Microsoft's Yammer Does the Heavy Lifting

    When Microsoft acquired Yammer, the company said that it was buying the corporate social network for its collaboration functionality, and that's what Yammer delivers. The service lets managers assign employees to various work groups, where they share tasks and collaborate on projects. Managers are able to track workgroup progress and productivity. Yammer also supports threaded conversations and saving of documents within the platform. Yammer is baked into Microsoft's Office 365, which starts at $5 per user per month for the simplest plan.
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    Slack Wins Out on the 'Cool' Factor
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    Slack Wins Out on the 'Cool' Factor

    Slack is arguably the most popular option in this roundup among those who want to collaborate with colleagues on a platform that looks and feels cool. Slack is based around channels that include selected users. Slack groups can communicate with each other in a Twitter-like newsfeed, although direct messages are also supported. Slack also includes support for file sharing and notifications, though it's chiefly a team social network, rather than a full, high-end collaboration tool. Slack is free to small teams. The company's standard and plus plans, which add extra functionality and guaranteed uptime, go for $6.67 and $12.50, respectively, per user per month.
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    Convo Acts Like Twitter—and Then Some
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    Convo Acts Like Twitter—and Then Some

    Although many of the applications in this roundup have some Twitter-like functionality to them, Convo is arguably the most Twitter-like of the group. The service has a stream for users connected to the Convo group to send out their thoughts. Users can also annotate messages and send private messages to each other. Convo pitches its service as an email replacement among team members, but whether it can truly replace the old standard is up for debate. Convo is free for up to 20 users, but jumps to $9 per user per month for more than 20 users.
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    Basecamp Puts a Premium on Simplicity
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    Basecamp Puts a Premium on Simplicity

    If it's simplicity that a company is after, Basecamp may just be the best solution in this roundup. The app features an easy-to-use interface that includes everything from contract tracking to the ability to keep notes on clients. It also includes a client portal, so employees can collaborate both together and with clients. Basecamp prices its service around projects, charging $20 per month for up to 10 active projects. Its unlimited projects option goes for $150 per month.
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    Huddle Offers a Little Bit of Everything
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    Huddle Offers a Little Bit of Everything

    Like Podio, Huddle is designed to deliver a little bit of everything to teams. The platform includes the standard collaboration features found elsewhere, but also includes full file sharing, plus the ability to assign and track project progression. It also provides enhanced security for corporate users. Huddle is one of the more popular options in this roundup, but that also means it's expensive: Its cheapest plan goes for $20 per user per month. Its Enterprise option, which starts at 100 users, goes for $40 per user per month.
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    Skype for Business Is a Newcomer to This Field
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    Skype for Business Is a Newcomer to This Field

    Microsoft's Skype for Business has combined the best features in Lync and Skype to make for a solid collaboration tool. The service allows employees to send messages to each other, as well as make audio and video calls. Perhaps most importantly, Skype for Business has an online meeting function and lets employees share files and other information from within the app. Skype for Business is one of the cheaper collaboration tools in this roundup, going for $2 per user per month. A better plan with more features is available for $5.50 per user per month.
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    Cisco Spark Focuses on Team Communication
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    Cisco Spark Focuses on Team Communication

    Cisco Spark is based on the concept of "rooms" where employees can collaborate on a project they're working on. While the collaboration feature is important, Cisco has put a premium on adding built-in communication to the mix. Users can send instant messages and make a WebEx video call from within the application. The company also argues that its Cisco-grade security makes it a better option than competing platforms. Cisco requires that prospective Spark users contact their local salesperson to get pricing for the service.
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    SharePoint Is the Old Timer Now
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    SharePoint Is the Old Timer Now

    Microsoft may have earned three spots in this lineup, but the truth is, no other company in the industry is as committed to enterprise collaboration as the software giant. It's hard to imagine a collaboration platform roundup without SharePoint. After all, SharePoint has long been the collaboration service chosen by companies to support workgroup productivity, offering everything from document storage, a timeline of events to note-taking. SharePoint can also be extended with help from a SharePoint app store. Compared with some other options, SharePoint is surprisingly affordable, starting at $5 per user per month. A higher-end option that adds business intelligence features goes for $8 per user per month.
 

Getting work teams to collaborate more effectively can be challenging even in some of the more close-knit offices. In far too many cases, companies have departments that don't talk to each other and business divisions that don't mesh well together. When that happens, productivity and usually profitability slide down. To try to fix these problems, software developers have created applications aimed at boosting team collaboration and productivity. The apps provide tools for managers to monitor employees and to help employees work efficiently throughout the day. While some of these apps offer free starter plans, most of them carry user fees, and that's not surprising since they are designed to maximize team productivity and presumably produce a return on the applications' cost. So is that value proposition a stretch? Perhaps it depends on the company, its organization or line of business. This slide show covers 10 team-focused apps all designed to help employees increase productivity. Read on to see what's available.

 
 
 
 
 
Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Gearlog.com. Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for CNET.com, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at http://twitter.com/donreisinger.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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