eWEEK’s Top Vendors: Project Management/Collaboration Tools

eWEEK TOP COMPANIES: Collaboration tools allow teams to synchronize and share files—videos, documents, photographs, audio and other types, such as data logs and specific industry formats—to get work done more efficiently. Here is eWEEK’s evaluation of the leaders in this important IT segment.

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When the COVID-19 pandemic has passed and we’re all back into regular routines, three of the lasting memories of this first half of 2020 will be the following: 

1) masks that we all had to wear when we traveled in public; 

2) the frightful global and national number of victims of the virus; and, when it comes to IT ...

3) the incredible rise in usage of collaboration tools in business, as employees set up remote offices at home and used tools such as Zoom, Cisco Webex, Microsoft Teams, UberConference and dozens of others to meet and get work done.

Overall, if any concept defines this new-gen digital age, it’s project management and collaboration. The ability for groups to communicate and work together is vital for companies to compete. A key aspect of collaboration revolves around sharing content, which becomes more complicated to use by the day. As a result, content collaboration and project management platforms play an increasingly important role in the enterprise.

These systems allow teams to synchronize and share files—documents, photographs, videos, audio and more. Many of these newer-generation platforms also offer tools that offer file analysis and workflow management. This makes it possible to apply analytics, inventory unstructured data, handle backups and versioning, and tie in security and compliance controls. Today, most CPPs incorporate robust mobile apps that also allow access by smartphone or tablet.

Selecting the right tool set for your business

How does an IT manager select the right type of project management or collaboration software for his or her enterprise? It takes a little research, because the leaders in the segment all have their strengths and weaknesses. What makes these tools so powerful is that they include content repositories and they support dedicated folders for projects. Most incorporate drag-and-drop interfaces, granular controls, and the ability to embed notes and other items in folders and files. Many also include robust APIs that allow these cloud services to operate with other services, thus extending the power and flexibility of the software.

Key Functions in Collaboration Platforms

File sharing: The ability to share files is usually built into the messaging component of a team collaboration tool. Most solutions will integrate with a business content management system to store files automatically.

Document collaboration: Document collaboration tools enable users to create and edit documents with others in real time. These documents can be stored within the app or housed externally using another integrated content management system.

Messaging: Collaboration tools usually feature an instant messaging system among employees. These tools enable one-on-one or one-to-many real-time messages.

Search: Team collaboration software can archive files, projects, or conversations so collaborators can return to them at a later date. They also have intuitive search features, so users can quickly track down the content they’re looking for.

VoIP and video conferencing: Some team collaboration software solutions will offer VoIP or video conferencing or will integrate with another provider, giving users the ability to change communication methods seamlessly without leaving the app.

Task management: Task management features enable users to create tasks and organize them by status, priority, and department. This can include Kanban boards, Gantt charts and workflows.

Calendaring: Many team collaboration solutions will offer individual and team calendars that autofill with tasks and projects made within the app. Calendars can also integrate with outside email solutions as well as project management and task management software.

Plenty of products from which to choose

There’s certainly no shortage of vendors, products and approaches in the space. Of course, selecting the right vendor and SaaS platform is hyper-important. To that end, eWEEK has surveyed the marketplace and identified 10 of the top vendors for project management and content collaboration. We assembled this vendor list and the accompanying information from several sources, including the Gartner Magic Quadrant (MQ) for Content Collaboration Platforms, Gartner Peer Insights reviews for Content Collaboration Platforms, TechnologyAdvice.com, G2 Crowd, IT Central station, vendor websites and other online sources.

Here are the list of segment leaders, according to eWEEK research:

Microsoft

Redmond, Wash.

Key Solutions: Microsoft Teams, Office 365, OneDrive for Business

Value proposition for potential buyers: Microsoft has emerged in the last few years as a popular choice for a content collaboration platform. Microsoft Teams platform is now being used by over 500,000 organizations by end of 2019, and usage is shooting up in the first half of 2020. Office 365 has more than 200 million business users. Naturally, OneDrive for Business--the company’s personal cloud storage app--is optimized for use with other Microsoft solutions, including Office 365, but the product also supports more than 320 file types, and accommodates video streaming and other tasks. SharePoint? Oh yes--plenty of businesses are still using that long-entrenched platform, too. But the time will come when SharePoint is phased out.

Microsoft’s collaboration software division, with the company already having its products well-embedded in most offices, has been increasing its sales by nearly 20 percent per year over the last couple of years.

Key values/differentiators:

  • Teams is a new-gen brother of the company’s standard SharePoint application. 
  • From a professional’s review on Gartner Peer Reviews: “Microsoft Teams is a great tool for internal communications. I particularly like the way the chat pulls up and always provides the most recent chats; this is quite useful. I believe the recent chats help a lot when you've been on vacation or out for sickness. It also syncs up with Outlook to immediately see availability for potential meetings. I believe the video conferencing feature has great quality in the picture, but the audio without a doubt could improve, since it doesn't remove background noise. The Teams section is great to follow up on certain projects and maintain a good thread on all the information being exchanged."
  • Teams and OneDrive are available as standalone apps or as part of the cloud platform. Both versions securely store and sync data with desktops, browsers and mobile devices. The result is a solution that provides access to files anywhere and with anyone inside and outside an enterprise.
  • OneDrive for Business includes powerful file search and storage tools and integration with Microsoft SharePoint. It also includes Microsoft Flow, which enables basic approval, feedback and a variety of other document workflows.
  • Using APIs, it also supports add-on products that further enhance the platform. 
  • Gartner described Microsoft as a “Leader” in the 2019 Content Collaboration Platforms MQ. The product garnered 4.3 out of 5 stars at Gartner Peer Review, where it also earned a Customers’ Choice 2019 designation.

Who uses it: any size enterprise, any vertical:

How it works:  cloud service

Score:  4.5/5.0

See user reviews of Microsoft OneDrive

Google Drive and Docs

Mountain View, Calif.

Solution: Google Drive

Value proposition for potential buyers: Google Drive is a public cloud solution that can be used as a standalone collaboration platform or bundled with Google’s popular G Suite. The platform supports most file types, including Google Docs and other Google native formats. It includes strong and intuitive-to-use administrative functions, secure storage and transport, and native data loss prevention (DLP) with information management tools.

Key values/differentiators:

  • Google Drive has been described by professionals in product reviews as “the perfect program to do anything related to: spreadsheets, graphics, text documents, presentations.”  Also in Google Drive, users can store projects in the cloud, at a maximum of 10GB. You can access your documents in a single click; you also can also access documents offline. All types of documents have the function of sharing with another person, and the best thing is that they can edit it in real-time. 
  • Google Drive also includes document scanners (via mobile devices), offline support and versioning capabilities. The result is intelligent and easy-to-use content collaboration for groups and individuals, who can access files and other data via clients residing on web, mobile and desktop clients.
  • The solution is particularly useful for organizations operating in the cloud. The platform operates in real-time and includes extensive logging and controls. 
  • Gartner ranked Google a “Leader” on the 2018 Gartner Content Collaboration Platforms MQ. The product was rated 4.6 out of 5 stars at Gartner Peer Review. It earned a Customers’ Choice 2018 designation.
  • A most important upside is the fact that users get a lot of storage, which can be used for security, and the initial limit is huge (100GB). It is secure and linked to your Gmail account, so it's very easy to access and use.
  • Should be noted: Although the automated process is useful, it is only advantageous for users of Android, not iOS.

Who uses it: Enterprises of any size

How it works: subscription cloud service 

Score:  4.6/5.0

See user reviews of Google Drive

Slack

San Francisco, Calif.

Solution: Slack

Value proposition for potential buyers: Slack is an enterprise software platform that allows teams and businesses of all sizes to communicate effectively. It is intuitive to learn and use, has many optional functions and is scalable to any size organization. It essentially is an internal social network, based along the lines of Twitter and Facebook. It takes only a few clicks to get it installed and running, and it is easy to use thereafter.

Key values/differentiators:

  • Slack stays working in the background; it’s a little tricky to turn it completely off.
  • Teams in Slack work together in channels that can be organized by project, department, office location, or anything else, really. This makes it easy to follow the topics that are important to you. Public channels are open to anyone on your team so marketing can see what designers are working on, sales can see what’s on the product team’s roadmap, and new hires can easily get up to speed instead of starting with an empty email inbox.
  • Slack connects to the tools and services you already use and centralizes your notifications, files, and data from 400+ different applications. This means no more searching through emails for that one follow-up, constantly switching between different tabs and dashboards, or juggling dozens of tools – each with their own login. Slack helps your team work smarter by providing all of the information and context you need to make effective decisions quickly.
  • Everything you share in Slack is automatically indexed and archived so your company can create a comprehensive knowledge base with zero effort, simply by working in Slack. And, Slack’s search makes it easy to find the information you need, whenever you need it.
  • In addition to creating chat rooms, Slack also allows the user to customize them; this aspect is quite convenient when conducting interviews. 
  • Slack exceeds the limit of emails in terms of number and size of files. It fits with many applications. It is available on all operating systems. 
  • Users can divide conversation groups to complacency, and its file import system is efficient. 
  • Should be noted: The Slack application is not as sustainable as its computer version, and sometimes video calls stop for no reason. It would be very useful if users could record shared files and conversations in calendars to keep an agenda, since they do not properly record everything that is shared. 

Who uses it: Enterprises of any size; 

How it works: cloud service, used by subscription

Score:  4.8/5.0

See user reviews of Slack on TechnologyAdvice.

Box

Redwood City, Calif.

Solutions: Cloud Content Management, Box Platform

Value proposition for potential buyers: Box has emerged as a popular provider of content collaboration services. It offers a variety of specialized products and solutions designed for different verticals and different users. Box operates its own data centers in the US and elsewhere; this includes regionalized storage through AWS, IBM and Azure.

Key values/differentiators:

  • The platform is very intuitive to use and integrates seamlessly with Microsoft Office 365 and Google G Suite. It also offers content streaming, real-time editing, machine learning, lightweight workflow and analytics—along with intelligent autoclassification and data extraction.
  • Strong security controls make Box a popular choice with businesses. Among other things, the platform features customer-owned encryption key management (Box KeySafe) along with regional content storage implementation (Box Multi Zones).
  • The company holds numerous compliance certifications and supports regulations such as GDPR. Gartner ranked Box a “Leader” in its 2019 MQ for Content Collaboration Platforms. It received 4.6 stars out of 5 at Gartner Peer Insights, where it was bestowed a Customers’ Choice 2019 award

Who uses it: Enterprises small to large; any vertical

How it works: Cloud service

Score:  4.7/5.0

See user reviews of Box

Cisco Webex

San Jose, Calif.

Solution: Webex Web Conferencing

Value proposition for potential buyers: WebEx, now part of Cisco, provides on-demand applications for collaborative business on the Web. These applications enhance high-touch business processes, such as sales and training, with Web-touch interactions. As an on-demand provider, WebEx facilitates both internal and external collaboration. Applications are delivered over the WebEx MediaTone Network, a global network specifically designed for the highly secure delivery of on-demand applications. WebEx applications support multipoint video conferencing, Web conferencing, telework and application remote control.

Key values/differentiators:

  • Overall: Cisco Webex gives users the opportunity to have a lag free teleconference with anyone in the world. While it had some connectivity issues in its earlier days, it’s now known for stable connections and tons of features. It became a big favorite during the first half of 2020, when many more people were working at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Pros: Webex offers video feed for every participant; enables users to record the meeting for later use; allows many voice connection options; users can call in using any type of phone, or connect via your computer audio (analog or digital). 
  • Enables users to connect to a meeting via a web app, desktop app, or android app. There is no video lag when sharing your screen, as long as you have a fast and stable connection
  • Integrates with Microsoft Outlook, calendars, office, and web browsers.It allows you to save a profile with your professional details so you don't have to enter them on a per meeting basis. 
  • Be aware of: The web application had some connection and volume bugs some time ago, but they have generally been fixed with additional investment and development by Cisco Systems. 
  • Most employees use this tool on a daily basis to solve enterprise customer issues, to present business reviews to main clients, and for numerous other use cases. Some companies also use it for training sessions when they don't have rooms available.

Who uses it:  Midrange to large enterprises, any vertical

How it works: cloud subscription service or data center app

Score:  4.5/5.0

Wrike

San Francisco, Calif.

Solution: Wrike

Value proposition for potential buyers: Wrike's cloud-based solution combines task and project management functionality, friendly collaboration features and helpful integrations with popular tools, such as email, document management tools, graphics and others. Wrike allows users to manage an unlimited number of tasks and projects in one workspace.

Wrike claims its task management is among the most powerful in its class, featuring a dynamic timeline. Users can associate a task with multiple projects, drag and drop tasks to re-prioritize, get an overview of project schedules in the Gantt timeline, watch the activity stream to see what your team is doing, and drive the entire task management process via email from any client by CC-ing [email protected]

Key values/differentiators:

  • In addition to Wrike's Intelligent Email Engine, Wrike also provides the following tools to manage tasks through email: Gmail gadget (allows to create and edit Wrike tasks in Gmail interface), Outlook add-in (turns emails into interactive tasks right in the inbox), MacMail add-in (currently in alpha version).
  • Integration with Google Drive allows for attaching a Google doc to a task or project easily, or create a new one on the fly.
  • Project and task descriptions and task notes accept rich text. There are keyboard shortcuts for task management and updating the your status in the activity stream.
  • Wrike won a B2B start-up competition at leWeb3 in 2006. Wrike was named the winner of 2008 eWEEK Excellence Awards in Productivity category. Wrike won a B2B start-up competition at leWeb3 in Paris (2006) and was recognized as one of the Red Herring Top 100 Global Companies (2009), became a finalist in the American Business Awards (2011) and was one of the winners at Enterprise Connect's Innovation Showcase (2012).

Who uses it:  Midrange to large enterprises, any vertical

How it works: cloud subscription service or data center app

Score:  4.8/5.0

Citrix

Santa Clara, Calif.

Solution: ShareFile

Value proposition for potential buyers: The ShareFile platform offers robust content collaboration and synchronization features with strong native security. It supports all types of devices and includes tight Office 365 integration. This allows users to engage in real-time co-editing and versioning.

Key values/differentiators:

  • A key feature is the ability to handle file storage and shares on premises and in the cloud. The product uses connectors to integrate distributed and fragmented content repositories without the need to migrate files and data to the cloud. This flexibility makes the ShareFile platform attractive for businesses of all sizes and across an array of industries.
  • Another appealing feature is ShareFile’s ability to protect sensitive data and enact governance in a way that fits their organization’s specific requirements.
  • Security protections include automatic e-mail encryption, multifactor authentication and single sign-on (SSO). Gartner ranked Citrix a “Leader” in its 2019 MQ for Content Collaboration Platforms. ShareFile earned 4.3 out of 5 stars at Gartner Peer Insights. It received a Customer’s Choice 2019 designation at the site.

Who uses it:  Midrange to large enterprises, any vertical

How it works: cloud subscription service or data center app

Score:  4.5/5.0

See user reviews of Citrix ShareFile

Dropbox

San Francisco, Calif.

Solution: Dropbox for Business

Value proposition for potential buyers: Dropbox was a pioneer in the collaboration and file sharing space. It remains one of the more widely used services globally. Dropbox for business is a public cloud platform that delivers encrypted file storage, synchronization, sharing, versioning and management features. It offers strong security controls and IT management features.

Key values/differentiators:

  • One of the standout capabilities of Dropbox for business is support for almost every major file type. This allows users to view and use files directly from the Dropbox interface.
  • The platform is ideal for highly specialized workflows and team collaboration requirements. It includes robust mobile support; granular permissions; two-factor authentication, SSO and device approvals; sophisticated administrative controls; and a rich library of APIs.
  • Dropbox for Business also features a powerful administrative dashboard and remote wipe. Dropbox was ranked as a “Leader” in the 2019 Gartner Content Collaboration Platforms MQ. It earned 4.5 out of 5 starts at the Gartner Peer Review site, where it also received a Customers’ Choice 2019 award.

Who uses it:  any size enterprise, any vertical, any individual

How it works: cloud service application

Score:  4.6/5.0

See user reviews of Dropbox

Egnyte

Mountain View, Calif.

Solutions: Egnyte Connect, Egnyte Protect

Value proposition for potential buyers: Egnyte offers two flagship products: Connect focuses on team collaboration while Protect takes aim at content governance and regulatory compliance. The two products are tightly integrated. The result is a strong platform for secure content collaboration.

Key values/differentiators:

  • Egnyte includes administrative controls, content protection, analytics, lifecycle management, distributed file services, along with infrastructure and foundational capabilities.
  • The vendor delivers a highly flexible architecture that includes both physical and virtual control models within a unified environment. It supports file sharing, content synchronization, and mobile services. Security controls include the ability to identify sensitive folder and files and ensure that they are stored securely, granular access controls and real-time alerts.
  • The platform is HIPAA, GDPR and FINRA compliant. Gartner ranked the vendor a “Visionary” on the 2019 Gartner Content Collaboration Platforms MQ. The product was rated 4.6 out of 5 stars at Gartner Peer Review. It earned a Customers’ Choice 2019 designation.

Who uses it: enterprises of any size, any vertical

How it works:  cloud service

Score:  4.8/5.0

See user reviews of Egnyte

Axway

Phoenix, Ariz.

Solution: Syncplicity

Value proposition for potential buyers: Axway offers a powerful and flexible content collaboration platform that addresses a broad swath of enterprise requirements. It places content on software defined storage platforms. This approach consolidates resources while facilitating content access on any device.

Key values/differentiators:

  • Axway supports native folder and file structures, sharing and publishing tools, editing functions and mobile access. It also features real-time document protection and backup. This makes it possible to recover previous versions of files that may have been inadvertently altered or deleted.
  • Syncplicity integrates with Microsoft Office and SharePoint to further facilitate file and content sharing, and it includes strong compliance and security controls. The latter includes group, role-based and individual permissions.
  • Gartner ranked Axway Syncplicity a leader in its 2019 Magic Quadrant for Content Collaboration Platforms. It received 4.6 stars out of 5 at Gartner Peer Insights.

How it works: Cloud subscription service

Who uses it: Enterprises of any size; most verticals 

Score:  4.6/5.0

See user reviews of Axway Syncplicity

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Pricing: Collaboration software is usually bought by users on a monthly subscription. Most vendors offer a free tier for up to a certain number of users. The free tiers usually have a more limited set of features and capabilities. There are some basic free online collaboration options, including GoVisually, Trello, Podio and Google Drive, for example.

For paid plans, pure collaboration tools focused on notes, tasks, and chat start about $9/month per user. For collaboration tools that include cloud storage, pricing starts at around $10/mo. per user, and goes up based on storage size.

Other prominent collaboration software providers are: 3cx, 8×8, Adobe, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Arkadin, Asana, Atlassian, Aurea, Autodesk, Brainshark, CenturyLink Cloud, Cybozu, Dalet, Esker SA, Eventbrite, Fuze, Granicus, GreenOrbit, Huddle, IBM, Intrado, Intralinks, Mitel, NCR Corporation, Neudesic, ON24, Open Text, Oracle, Premiere Global Services, Qualtrics, Questback, SAP, ServiceNow, Skytap, Smartsheet, SurveyMonkey, Zoho Corp., Zoom.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 15 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...