As we all have smartphones nowadays, we may also have all the right apps to help us wake up, remember the tasks of the day, and keep us up to date with our schedules, emails, and social media. But what about the collaboration with co-workers, and what about the handling of agendas, notes and papers regarding meetings?
The amount of digital collaboration tools out there is vast and we are taking a closer look at some of them in this blog post. Perhaps you are already using one or more tools in your organisation – and if not, it is simply a matter of going through the market and trying out the various options. Several apps and tools have a basic free edition with the option of in-app purchases whereas the more professionally targeted ones come at a cost but will often supply a free trial.
Google Docs offers an office pack with online access to text editing, spreadsheets, and presentations for multiple persons working via a browser. Several people can work in a document simultaneously and you will see changes made by others in real-time, with the system auto-saving regularly to minimise the risk of losing data.
Google Docs support various formats such as Microsoft’s .doc and .xls that you are familiar with from Word and Excel, and the service includes support for the OpenDocument format, as well as it is possible to upload and read .pdfs. Your files are automatically stored onto Google’s servers, and using the service requires an active Gmail account.
The service that has been dubbed an email killer has got real traction the last few years, regardless of whether the killing bit holds true or not. The keywords of Slack are an intuitive user interface, well thought out integrations with various other programs, and a powerful search function.
The flawless integration with services such as Dropbox makes it easy to share relevant documents with collaborators, and the anatomy of shared as well as private channels consisting of the relevant people makes Slack the perfect choice for communicating to only relevant people with an interest in a given matter.
Trello is the modern version of the old-fashioned noticeboard with notes of all colours, shapes, and sizes. You create a board for each project or assignment and apply a card for each underlying task. The people associated with the project are then assigned to each card by simply dragging-and-dropping photos of the person in question onto the card.
Whenever a task is finished, the according card is dragged to “Completed” allowing everyone to follow the progress of the project.
Created by Danish entrepreneur Tommy Ahlers and subsequently sold to Citrix, Podio has received quite a bit of publicity. The American tech giant noticed and took an instant liking to the system that has often been called the Facebook of your workplace as it is in fact a social company intranet.
Podio is based on social work forums enabling collaboration on projects and assignments, and the system offers integration with other tools such as Evernote, Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive, Sharefile, and Dropbox.
Dropbox is a storage service storing your files in their cloud. This means that you can always access your work, and provided you are online you will always have access to the latest version of a file. In case you need to be offline for some time, say on a train ride, you have the option of downloading the file onto your computer or mobile device and access your work regardless of internet coverage.
One of the great strengths of Dropbox is the ability to share files and folders with others. External collaborators can be granted access to a restricted part of your Dropbox being able to access only what you choose to share with them, and you can even share documents with people not having a Dropbox of their own.
Differentiating from the above-mentioned tools, Assistant is created specifically for meetings.
With this app, you’ll never have to write meeting minutes or forget action items again. Assistant is basically a virtual meeting secretary that uses speech recognition and machine learning to record, analyze and structure your meeting. Later, all meeting participants will receive a summary by email. The Meeting Minutes contains an overview of the meeting's most important keywords. Do you need to refresh the memory? Simply click on a keyword and repeat the specific sequence that is relevant to you. In addition, the Assistant highlights your decisions, tasks and photos – as well as personal notes and audio bookmarks.
Therefore, Meeting Minutes do not look like a "traditional record", rather an optimized overview of the meeting that increases understanding and memory. Because the information is automated, the question, 'who’s assigned to what task' will never go unanswered.
Regardless of the solution you choose, you can get help – it is simply a matter of checking out the market and trying out options.