Organizing remote work and running efficient remote teams is now a hot topic more than ever. What used to be a nice-to-have-option turned into a necessity for companies worldwide. Even though remote work enthusiasts feel excited, switching to an entirely virtual mode might be a challenge as well. How can technology help you keep the ball rolling? Here’s our selection of 10 best collaboration tools for remote teams.
Let’s face it – working remotely isn’t anything new. Over the last decade, we have been experiencing an explosion of tech solutions, desktop, browser-based, and mobile apps dedicated to getting the job done virtually.
It’s not only because there’s a vast army of freelancers – software developers, designers, marketers, copywriters – out there, and the hype for digital-nomad lifestyle has been on the rise.
Many software companies, like Zapier, have entirely trusted remote work model as a foundation of their business.
However, for plenty of others, working from home has been an employer branding perk and a sexy-looking benefit, while the office work has been still the core.
Right now, facing the wild spread of the coronavirus, a transition from onsite to online is becoming a must. However, if you go to your LinkedIn wall, you will notice as many posts about concerns and challenges of running virtual teams, as posts saying: “finally! We can do all our work online”.
In this article, we are going to highlight 10 project management apps and best team collaboration tools you should make friends with to stay in the game and run your project efficiently, entirely in a remote mode.
Best collaboration tools for remote teams
How can remote teams communicate well? What are the best project management tools for working remotely?
Here it goes:
It's an absolute must-have platform for software companies of all shapes and sizes. Whether you plan to build a simple mobile app, design a stunning computer game, or develop a sophisticated IT system, Jira Software is a top choice to bring your agile team together.
Available in a server and cloud version, Jira strikes as a comprehensive tool for managing the product development with an Agile approach in mind.
What can you do with it? This flagship Atlassian product will help you to manage multiple projects by planning, assigning tasks, tracking issues, and reporting all the work.
Jira is an agile environment where business stakeholders, marketing or IT directors, scrum masters, and software developers get on the same page when it comes to developing products from scratch.
It helps to understand and put projects in perspective by creating Epics, building Roadmaps, and storing to-dos in a Backlog.
By getting Jira onboard, you can:
• monitor your teams work progress by checking Scrum or Kanban boards;
• create and assign issues;
• manage Sprints;
• define Story points;
• estimate the time required to get the job done;
• upload and share files;
• add comments;
• prioritize and hierarchize tasks.
But the real beauty of Jira lies in fact, that you can easily power it up with compelling plug-ins available in Atlassian Marketplace. And there are tons of valuable apps to juggle with.
OK, we can easily say that Jira has become synonymous with a product development management software and an agile tool par excellence. Confluence, on the other hand, another world-renowned racehorse from the Atlassian stables, should be on the top of the list for every marketing, product, or HR team, regardless of the size.
As soon as you try Confluence, you will never go back to organizing your teamwork with spreadsheets and other documents scattered all over the place. Instead of getting lost and lose your precious time to find a way back, you can take content creation, team collaboration, and organizing your projects and move it to one open workspace.
Not only can you place any of your projects in a dedicated space and break it down to specific pages and let all your team members access it quickly. The sexiest part of Confluence is the set of available templates such as:
• Project plan;
• Meeting notes;
• Product launch plan;
• Marketing plan;
• How-to article;
• Competitive analysis;
• Marketing campaign and more!
Exchanging zettabytes of e-mails has been a pain in the neck for businesses, managers, and employees for far too long. Luckily, we all can now save long hours of our time, by switching team communication to collaboration hubs like Slack.
With over 12 million active users daily, Slack brings remote teams together and helps to get everyone on the same page. Going through never-ending e-mails chains is frustrating and ineffective.
With dedicated channels on Slack you can:
• Gather up people devoted to a specific project or a task;
• Share your ideas and get feedback in real-time;
• Upload files;
• Pin important messages to get back to them whenever you need it;
• And make your teamwork fun by using emojis.
Slack helps to build a team spirit, solve issues as you move along with a task, move your work forward, and save your inbox from the tsunami of unnecessary e-mails.
Last, in the days of the video conferencing explosion, Slack serves that too. You can quickly call any of your teammates, make an instant conference, and share your screen to show others what you’re working on.
Initially dedicated to small teams and even for personal use, Trello has taken the stage conquering the hearts of millions of users worldwide. This application stands out as an eye-catchy and lightweight alternative for sophisticated collaboration platforms.
Trello has brought the principles of Kanban to life and visualized workflows to help managing projects and tasks from the idea up to implementation and collaborate with your teammates as you move along.
How does it work? This collaboration tool allows you to handle any (professional or private) projects by creating boards dedicated to each one. Each board breaks down into good-looking columns with cards for every task to work on. Each column represents simple stages of a project and stuff:
• You need to do;
• You’re in the middle of doing;
• And you’ve already done.
You can keep on adding cards to the board and move them from one column to another. Each card can bring everything you need in one place:
• Comments coming from you and your team members;
• Checklist with things to be done;
• And a due date.
As Trello is a part of the Atlassian family, it has one feature that reminds of the Confluence – templates. You don’t have to sweat to design boards from scratch – there are plenty of handy templates you can choose for the sake of:
• Project management.
Apps for Jira that empower your remote experience
Agile Poker for Jira
Now, whereas Slack, Confluence, or Trello can find their way to become everyday tools for various business or companies’ departments, Agile Poker for Jira is an app created for agile (surprise, surprise) development teams.
This powerful app for Jira created by Spartez Software was from the start, an ideal match with distributed agile teams. In a current emergency lockdown, where companies and dev teams have globally switched to a remote work model, Agile Poker for Jira comes even handier.
As properly handled work estimation has a significant impact on the release dates (and therefore is a sensitive matter in terms of launching new features, or entire apps), the big idea standing behind Agile Poker for Jira is to make more precise estimations.
Making the most of inspirations taken from Planning Poker®, Wideband Delphi, Time Estimation, Game, and Silent Grouping, this toolkit brings all best practices together, to empower remote dev teams to run scrum planning the highest possible way.
And the best part? It’s fun! Watch this short video to see how it looks like.
BigPicture – Project Management & PPM
The name tells it all. This application created as a Jira plug-in is here to help you get the picture of your project management and PPM (Project Portfolio Management).
While Trello is a proud ambassador of the Kanban approach, BigPicture represents the Gantt Charts methodology. This app should be on the radar of every project manager trying to juggle multiple projects at the same time and find the way to have it all under control.
With a nice tile view, you can get a clear overview of what your team has in the pipeline. Each tile nicely shows a short description of a project and its progress in percentage.
In Gantt Charts view, you can:
• Manage and analyze your work structure;
• Make the most of story points;
• See how initial estimations relate to the actual time spent on particular tasks;
• Drag and drop your tasks to reschedule them in BigPicture and Jira as well;
• Easily link one to another if they are dependent on each other.
BigPicture – Project Management & PPM app also enables you to look after your resources more efficiently, get a project birds-eye-view by controlling the roadmap, and reduce the risks.
InVision for Jira
Building apps can’t live without a design and UX. InVision rocks the market as a stunning digital product design platform that enables you to turn your app idea into a remarkable screen design, and from there – to an app prototype, you would be proud of.
InVision for Jira is a plug-in that pairs prototypes designed in InVision with tasks created in Jira. Having that app in your toolkit will stop you from jumping from one platform to another.
All your work dedicated to creating your future software product will stay in one place – from design to writing code.
Draw.io for Confluence and Jira
We, humans, are visual creatures, there’s no doubt about it. Any complex topic, new workflow, or an advanced project has more chance to find understanding and support, when it can be visualized in a diagram.
Draw.io comes handy as an incredibly easy-to-use diagram application. Need to draw a complex infrastructure or a business scheme with no designing skills? Draw.io is a way to go, and now you can effortlessly embed your diagrams to Confluence and Jira.
Migrating your visuals is not only a fast, but also a secure operation.
Sketch for Confluence – Image editing
Remember Confluence? Having that app under your fingertips, you can create a dedicated space for any project – business, marketing, product, your camping get-away, you name it! As we underlined before, we, as humans, are genetically coded to love images. That’s why any project looks better when you enrich it with some eye-catchy visuals.
With Sketch for Confluence app, you can do much more, and most importantly - without leaving Confluence! Uploading a picture is obvious, but with that plug-in, you can crop, rotate, and edit it. Add shapes, colors, frames, text, stickers, and more!
Jira Service Desk
Jira Service Desk, one of the Atlassian’s pillar products, is closing our selection of best collaboration tools. While the vast majority of apps described above are dedicated to bringing your team together and run your projects in an elegant manner, Jira Service Desk is a middle ground where your IT department meets with the customer.
When you work on building any application, you need a platform for real-time communication with the customer, receiving feedback, and handle any bugs reported by the company who hired you to develop their software product.
Jira Service Desk is here to provide fast IT service and gather up development, operations, and support teams together, to:
• manage requests and deliver results fast;
• monitor the progress of dealing with issues;
• set as many Service Level Agreements (SLAs) as you need.
Time for your remote team to try them out
Nobody has expected that we will all be facing an immediate switch to remote work. It’s a challenge, but with the arsenal of browser-based applications, you can look after every aspect of running a project.
Project management, design, development, marketing, customer service, you name it! You can move it all forward on a work from home model.