Need Help?

Feel free to contact me with any question about things you've read here!

Web Apps & Software for Distributed Teams

17 November 2009 Posted by in category: Internet tools with Tags , ,

3845644631_655f36e931[1]I’ve recently explained on MakeUseOf.com how to use Google Maps as a tool for distributed teams. In this post I am going to review other tools that support and improve the work of distributed teams. The tools will help you improve the way you share files, communicate, and work collaboratively with people not near you.

File sharing

One of the basic needs of a distributed team is the ability to share files. For ad-hoc teams, who do not work together on a regular basis, Drop.io is a great solution. Drop.io is a private sharing and collaboration web app. It lets you instantly create a mini site, called ‘a drop’, into which you can upload any type of file. You can annotate the file with comments or sections of text and use the chat feature for synchronized work sessions.

Teams who do work together on a regular basis should use Dropbox for file sharing. Dropbox is a software (yes, the kind you download) that creates a synchronization folder on your computer. The folder syncs any file in it with the Dropbox server (making the file always available online) and with a similar folder in your team members’ computers. This allows you to share files just like you would do if you were sitting in the same office and using the same server – in shared folders.

For a more cloud-based collaboration, use Google sites. Setting up a Google site is easy, and it can serve as an assistive tool for projects management and knowledge sharing.

Communication

Try as you might, you will never be able to avoid the need for synchronized work with team members (i.e. meetings). For that task, probably the best solution is Skype, the free voice and video calls software.

If not all the team members use Skype, you can use Tinychat for audio or video meetings. Just enter Tinychat, launch a session and send others the link. All the participants can immediately broadcast from their webcam or microphone, without any downloading. Each session also have a chat room.

To see an example of such sessions just pick one of the public chat rooms currently running in ‘Rooms‘.

Screen sharing

Alongside your call, you can use various tools to make it more productive. ShowDocument is a screen sharing tool that enables co-browsing on document and websites. Create within a single click an environment where you can show others a document, a webpage, or a YouTube video. People with whom you share the session will see your scrolling, mouse pointing and drawing.

showDocument

For a bit more stable and rich screen sharing you can download Mikogo. Mikogo is an online meeting, web conferencing & remote support tool. It lets you share your screen with up to 10 participants in simultaneously.

Text editing

For instant simulations text editing you can use EtherPad. It is a plain text editor with a very high response time for instant writing tasks.

2009-10-30_1150

Alternatively, you can just use Google Docs (which requires all the participants to log in).

Scheduling

Finally, don’t forget to schedule the meeting with an online meeting scheduler, such as When Is Good or Doodle.

If you liked this post you might also want to read 6 Web Apps to Instantly Capture, Share, Display and Meet

image by oldcockatoo

3 Responses to “Web Apps & Software for Distributed Teams”

  1. Intranet Consultant 30 November 2009 at 9:32 pm (PERMALINK)

    It may make sense to go for a comprehensive solution rather than point solutions for collaboration, file sharing, scheduling etc. This ties up your data in silos, and blocks synergies. Some examples of “total collaboration” solutions are Zimbra (on premise) and HyperOffice Collaboration Suite (web based).

    Author
  2. Peter Inchley 3 September 2010 at 5:18 pm (PERMALINK)

    I think if you are home user, then it doesn’t really matter which tools you use for co-ordinating your local kids football (soccer) team, for creating the Rotary Club newsletter, etc.

    When you are business user then the question is more difficult. The problem is, we all already live and work in silos… it is called ‘my work environment’.

    The problem is really about which systems we should use, and that comes down to corporate and/or IT policies as much as which is the right sort of tools to use.

    We have opted for Ice3 Online Collaboration (http://www.ice3-portal.co.uk), and this works well for us in our business world (with our clients and partners), but inevitably creates a silo of its own.

    I don’t know what the answer is here.

    Author
  3. Maxim Soloviev 27 March 2011 at 2:53 pm (PERMALINK)

    Awesome! Thanks for this awesome resource. I saved it so I can show my cousin soon

    Author