Business moves much faster these days. No longer is the Friday office memo the best way to communicate with your team. Whether you’re a team of two working from your respective homes, or a multi-floor operation in a downtown high rise, businesses of all sizes are turning to cloud-based communication tools to collaborate and work more efficiently.
The great thing about cloud-based communications is that everyone stays up-to-date on multiple projects simultaneously. Never again will co-workers have to ask for status updates and email different forms of the same documents back and forth is a thing of the past. (Of course, that’s if you don’t lose your connection to the cloud, but that’s another story.)
Here are five cloud-based communication tools you can use to immediately improve your business communications today.
Originally created to increase productivity among Facebook employees, Asana claims to create teamwork without email. It combines task lists with intraoffice messaging and link and file sharing. Tasks can be separated by project, assigned to individuals within your team and followed by others, even broken into subtasks. You can assign due dates, and chat within the task to separate conversations so you don’t have to go hunting for email chains or notes.
Asana can even be used as a meeting agenda tool. All of the members of a team can create their own tasks within a meeting agenda and they can be checked off as they are discussed.
And don’t worry, if you still like email you can set up email alerts for all updates to tasks you follow. Even responding to an email creates comments that can be seen in Asana.
You may have seen HipChat’s ads featuring Gary Cole’s Office Space character Bill Lumbergh. His character is stuck in the ‘90s, and he doesn’t understand how communication works now. HipChat combines an instant messaging service with live video conferencing, for easy and fast communication.
With HipChat, you can have one-on-one chats with every member of your team or group chats to conduct larger conversations. You can even see when co-workers are online and available or in a call. Hipchat also stores all shared documents and links, and collects them all in one place for easy search and access.
Slack is another intra-office messaging program that combines the features of text messaging, email and file-sharing all in one place. Much like HipChat you can communicate with your whole team, or one member at a time.
What is most exciting about Slack, however, is the way it integrates with other cloud-based services and websites. You can share and view Dropbox and Google Drive files in-app and connect with Asana checklists. Sending an email to your mailing list? You can share your test emails from Mail Chimp and get them approved through your whole team. Share SoundCloud and Twitter links and they will show up in-chat. No matter the task, Slack has an integration to help you get it done faster.
Basecamp manages projects between multiple departments and teams with ease. You can quickly create task specific checklists and personnel groupings to keep the people who need to know in touch without overwhelming those who don’t.
Basecamp is especially helpful when managing contractors and subcontractors on a project. This way they can easily keep in touch with each other, and updated on the status of the project. Are you planning to re-design your website. Keep the HTML expert and graphic designer in the loop with the manager in charge.
Like the tools above, Nimble collects and keeps as much information as possible in one place. Unlike the tools above, Nimble is client focused. It uses your contacts and calendar to keep track of interactions you have with your clients and potential clients. It tracks emails, offers and deals they have received, and even tracks their social media use. Do you want to get to know your customers better and connect with them? Nimble is a great tool to do just that.
Cloud-based tools like these are great for real-time collaboration and information gathering, but entirely rely on internet connectivity. These tools allow you to get more done quickly, but outages can cripple your business. Before you make the leap into cloud communication services, you have to make sure that your internet is always on and available. For more information on Allied’s always-on internet solutions, click here.