We hear it all the time. “Yeah, there’s an app for that.” It seems that, for every task you want to do, there’s a digital application that goes along with it, from organizing your recipes to promoting world peace.
If you have ever tried to coordinate your web team and client stakeholders, you know that often, email just doesn’t cut it. Emails get lost, deleted, lose their history trail, and can be disjointed. So when trying to get web teams and their clients to collaborate, what is the killer app that helps get everyone together?
The answer…none (at least, none that I’ve seen). No one single application is perfect at fostering true collaboration from the inception of a project through to completion. A good tool used by creative designer and client to cement the vision for a Web site is probably not the same tool that will help a QA tester communicate bugs and issues to the core tech team.
We at Beaconfire use a few tools for different phases of a project. Here are some examples of how Beaconfire uses some of its tools to foster collaboration.
Central Desktop – Keeping the communication open
Central Desktop is a collaborative software suite. It offers task lists, document version control, milestones, and calendar creation. Central Desktop is the key tool we use to get all interested parties for a project on the same page. All of our documentation, deliverables, and discussion around them are tracked in Central Desktop. The software set up is very organized, the documentation versioning is top-notch, and the discussion tool makes sure we are all on the same page. And for those of us who can’t give up the email, Central Desktop allows you to email directly to the collaboration workspace.
OnTime – Making it work
When it comes time to get down to the nitty gritty — the extreme detail that goes into making your vision come to life — most collaboration software doesn’t speak “tech.” Once a project gets into development, we often bring our internal teams together to collaborate with a piece of software called OnTime. Like Central Desktop, OnTime can do many things – Project Management, Task Management, Helpdesk Tracking, etc. But for us, its stand-out features, customizability, and ability to record information at great detail make it ideal for assigning development tasks and bug tracking.
OnTime does have a customer portal, to allow clients and other collaborators in on the QA action. Usually, the level of detail we go into in OnTime is beyond the interest of those not directly involved in development. This is why we love Central Desktop for external party collaboration, and OnTime for the internal, detail-oriented collaboration required for the development and QA phases of a project.
ReadyTalk – Making it stick
Phone conferencing software is ubiquitous in today’s world. But these tools can be used for much more. When our clients are all over the country (or in some cases, the world), and we need to have a 1-2 hour training, we will record our ReadyTalk conference. It synchs the phone conference with mouse moves on my computer, and after the conference, converts it into a Flash movie. So not only has ReadyTalk allowed us to train and collaborate in real time, but also to have a handy training reference.
Confluence Wiki – Living and Learning
We have many projects going on at once. Whenever we learn a valuable lesson from our project work, rather than making our colleagues sift through all our Central Desktop discussions or OnTime bugs for our particular project, we post a lot of our lessons learned, quick tips, and gotchas on our internal Wiki, Confluence.
It’s also not a bad way to put together the dishes list for our upcoming Thanksgiving potluck.